A Farewell to Teven
Virginia fans will surely miss their exuberant, selfless backup point guard
A member of the Virginia men’s basketball team for the course of 59 games, fan favorite Teven Jones averaged just 1.7 points. This season, he appeared in 29 games and scored 14 points with eight assists and only one turnover. He provided highlight-reel footage with a crafty steal and dunk against Virginia Tech — with his 6-foot frame, a victory for small guys everywhere — and, more recently, by being on the jilted end of the no-call heard round the world in Virginia’s Sweet 16 loss to Michigan State. And, of course, Teven is known and beloved for perfecting the art of the sideline shimmy.
Our days of watching him in a Virginia jersey are done. Monday night, he announced his intention to transfer to a different school, taking his enthusiasm — and his dance moves — with him.
The meager stat lines hardly do justice to Teven’s impact off the court. The Cavalier Daily’s crowning of Jones as National NaeNae MVP may have been in jest (let’s be real, though, he totally is) but the energy and spirit Teven provided his team was undeniable. His incredible repertoire of dance moves served as an expression of his dedication to the team and his genuine excitement at seeing his teammates succeed.
“This was the closest team that I’ve ever been a part of and it hurts to leave,” Jones said. From anyone else, such words might come across as just another empty cliché, but coming from Teven, we know it’s true.
Being a backup player on a spectacular team isn’t always enough for a college athlete. Though the Cavaliers won the ACC Championship this year, the team’s rise to success presented him with a new dilemma. Last year he averaged 13.5 minutes per game, but that figure dropped to only 4.3 minutes this year. Being a benchwarmer — even on a championship-caliber team — is not fun, and though he never acknowledged it, limited playing time probably took its toll on our dancing hero. With London Perrantes as the established star point guard and highly touted Devon Hall eligible to play, next season might have placed Teven on the bench once again. It’s not difficult to understand the logic behind his transfer.
So what will happen to the team without him?
In all honesty, they’re probably going to be just fine. Perrantes is a star and — barring catastrophe — will own the position for the next three years. Hall will be his backup with support from shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon and the rest of an extremely deep team. Plus, Tony Bennett is a great coach. It seems harsh, but Teven’s presence on the court will not be a huge loss. His character off the court, however, will be.
We, as fans, can only see so much. Highlight reels, team media days and postgame interviews help us understand athletes on the surface level, but we don’t get to see practices, bus rides, team meals or lifting sessions. If Teven was supportive on the sideline, we can only imagine what a positive force he was outside of John Paul Jones Arena.
Teven Jones has a rough background. Three of his family members saw athletic opportunities give way to lives in jail, but Teven succeeded where they did not. Encouragement from his mother and a year at Fishburne Military Academy gave him the discipline and character that has already carried him through two years of the demanding life of a student-athlete and will carry him through the rest of his life.
With his team-first attitude and infinite energy, Teven is the kind of player that can make a huge impact when his team most needs a lift. However, he also has a lot of talent, and simply being a good teammate isn’t always enough for a competitive athlete.
The 2014-15 Cavaliers are positioned to continue the greatness that only just began this year, but a piece will be missing. Any school he chooses will be extremely lucky to have Teven Jones: they will be getting a player with great talent, spirit and, though it hardly needs saying, some very slick dance moves.