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Perrantes gets personal

As graduation approaches, London lets in

<p>Senior point guard London Perrantes stands with his family during Virginia basketball's Senior Day.&nbsp;</p>

Senior point guard London Perrantes stands with his family during Virginia basketball's Senior Day. 

London Perrantes Jr. soaks in the beautiful Charlottesville sun 2,549 miles from home. The warm spring weather is a reminder of his California roots — a reminder of where he came from just four short years ago.

Although those four years have flown by and his career as a Cavalier might be over, Perrantes Jr. is not leaving entirely — his legacy will outlast his time on the court. Finishing first all-time in starts, games and minutes played, alongside an impressive career three-point average of 40.9 percent — just to name a few of his accolades — Perrantes Jr. has left Virginia with a lot to be thankful for. But those stats didn’t come without their struggles.

“Fourth year was different,” Perrantes Jr. said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself this year especially. I do that with everything that I do — but I had to find a way to just go out and play for my team and not worry about all the extra stuff. It took me awhile to get used to.”

Perrantes Jr. has proven in his fourth year that he’s capable of overcoming that pressure, even if the process isn’t perfect. With the departure of starters like Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey and NBA Rookie of the Year contender Malcolm Brogdon, Perrantes Jr. had big shoes to fill. His team needed more than numbers.

“The absence of all those team leaders he had relied on left a big void for him and obviously for the team,” London Perrantes Sr., Perrantes’ dad, said. “They were all brothers of his, so losing them was a huge change for him. But he’s the kind of kid who works through these changes in his own way and that’s what he did.”

As the lone senior on the court this past season, Perrantes Jr. felt the void they left.

“Losing the fourth-years last year obviously presented a new set of challenges — a new everything really,” Perrantes Jr. said. “I think I learned how to be a better leader for the team. Obviously we had a lot of leaders on the team last year, but I really tried to implement what I took from them when it was my turn this year.”

The challenges he faced his senior year changed him as a player and a person. He discovered how to lead but he also discovered something more — how to learn from those who came before him. While his play was not as consistent as the Cavaliers had hoped coming off of his breakout junior year, Perrantes Jr. proved that his character is consistent even when his shooting is not.

“He doesn’t seem to lose often who he is as a player and how he his as a player,” Coach Tony Bennett said. “That’s one of his best qualities without a doubt.”

He became a better leader and a better man and never lost himself in the struggles of this past season. He still wears his heart on his sleeve and has the world’s worst poker face. He’s been a star for Virginia, there’s no doubt about that, but he’s struggled from time to time. He’s passionate, but he’s not perfect. The big picture is this — London Perrantes Jr. is human.

“As a parent you want your kids to reach for something and work hard to get to their goals and achieve them,” Perrantes Sr. said. “Even though things aren’t always perfect, I’d still say he’s doing pretty well in getting to where he wants to be and working hard for it.”

The most important thing through the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, the shooting slumps and the three-sprees, is that Perrantes Jr. has never wavered in his commitment to the Cavaliers or in his character. He worked hard through it all. Despite the pressures he felt, the challenges he encountered — he turned them all into something positive.

“[This season] was definitely sort of a player development period as well as a period when I learned to lead. I had to step in and try to be the best I could be on and off the court,” Perrantes Jr. said.

Perrantes Jr. learned what it truly means to embody the Virginia basketball mantra — humility, passion, unity, servanthood and thankfulness.

“I try not to think about what my legacy will be or the things that I’ve done,” Perrantes Jr. said. “Yeah, I’ve done a lot and I’m proud of that, but all I want now is for what we’ve started to continue, for this program to keep going up. Coming across the country to play here was one of the best decisions of my life, and that won’t change no matter what I leave behind.”

He’s known for his style, his signature threes and his standing as a team leader. But there’s something new he should be known for — his ability to lead even when he is struggling and his ability to overcome imperfection and be a better man for it.

“From day one when I coached him, he was a special talent,” Perrantes Sr. said. “He still is today no matter what has happened or will happen, that’s for sure.”