A look at this year’s graduating athletes
The Cavalier Daily sports section looks back at six graduating athletes from men’s basketball, women’s swimming, baseball, men’s lacrosse, men’s tennis and football who have left a lasting impact on their teams and the University athletic community.
Men’s basketball: London Perrantes
London Perrantes committed a lot of time to the Virginia basketball program at the point guard position — the Los Angeles, Calif. native finished his career as a Cavalier ranking first all-time in minutes played, games and starts. Perrantes also finished second overall in three-point percentage at 40.9 percent and became the first Virginia player to win a NCAA Tournament game in four-straight tournaments. Virginia will miss Perrantes’ leadership and “Cali-cool” style as the senior prepares for the NBA Draft.
— Mariel Messier, Sports Editor
Women’s swimming: Leah Smith
Leah Smith is not only the best swimmer Virginia has ever touted, but she is also one of the best athletes to ever grace the Virginia athletics department, period. Winning 10 individual ACC championships and a Virginia student-athlete record of four individual NCAA championships, Smith has left her mark on the world of collegiate swimming. And if that wasn’t enough, she also represented the United States in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and won both a gold medal and a bronze medal. Smith will be remembered as a dominant swimmer who had a tenacious appetite for improvement and success.
— Ben Tobin, Assistant Managing Editor
Baseball: Alec Bettinger
Virginia's pitching staff has been riddled with inconsistencies this season, but senior reliever Alec Bettinger has been a model of consistency for the Cavaliers. After struggling as a starter as a junior, the righty has found his niche as a long reliever, showing he can lock down pretty much any opponent when the team needs him. Bettinger is 7-0 this season, sports a 2.05 ERA in 44 innings and is second on the team with 52 strikeouts. He currently has 200 strikeouts on his career, and he will likely rack up a few more before the end of the season. Bettinger will be remembered as a versatile pitcher who found ways to thrive in any role coach Brian O'Connor put him in.
— Alec Dougherty, Senior Associate Sports Editor
Men’s lacrosse: Zed Williams
With 25 goals and a team-high 25 assists, attacker Zed Williams flourished on the field this season. After three years at midfield, Williams’ capped off his Cavalier career with an impressive stint at attack. His athleticism, adaptability and soft-spoken strength were invaluable assets to the program — Williams’ will be missed both on and off the field.
— Emily Caron, Feature Writer
Men’s tennis: Thai-Son Kwiatkowski
As one of the top tennis players in the nation, Thai-Son Kwiatkowski's decision to come to Virginia was met with huge expectations. The former top recruit has done nothing but live up to those expectations the last four years. Kwiatkowski made the All-ACC first team this year and previously the second team twice in addition to winning Virginia's ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award both in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, he also won the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player award. As a potentially three-time NCAA national championship winner, Kwiatkowski will be remembered as one of the marquee players in a golden era of Virginia tennis.
— Rahul Shah, Sports Editor
Football: Taquan Mizzell
While Taquan "Smoke" Mizzell may not have had the career he envisioned for himself when he committed to Virginia as a five-star recruit, he had quite the impact on the gridiron for the Cavaliers. Mizzell is the only player in ACC history with over 1,500 yards receiving and rushing, and served as a multi-faceted weapon out of the backfield for Virginia. While the Cavaliers have options at tailback in rising senior Daniel Hamm and rising junior Jordan Ellis, Mizzell will be difficult to replace — although he will only be a short way away after signing a contract with the Baltimore Ravens.
— Jake Blank, Senior Associate Sports Editor