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BROWN: Is it time for Virginia basketball to revisit the retired jersey discussion? I think so.

A few former Cavaliers have a strong case for their jerseys to be raised to the rafters

<p>Singletary and Brogdon had their jerseys raised up in 2009 and 2017, respectively.&nbsp;</p>

Singletary and Brogdon had their jerseys raised up in 2009 and 2017, respectively. 

The Virginia men’s basketball program does not retire jerseys often. In fact, it does not occur in the NCAA much in general. Comparable programs — Duke, UNC and Kentucky have retired 4, 1 and 0 player jersey numbers this century, respectively. Two players have had their jerseys retired this century by the team — Malcolm Brogdon and Sean Singletary. Given the rarity of such an event, perhaps my postulation is abrupt. Still, humor me this. De’Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome — surely at least one of them deserves a retired number, right?

Sean Singletary, though not as familiar to many as Brogdon, played for Virginia from 2004-2008. Starting off strong by earning ACC All-Freshman honors his first year, Singletary went on to be an All-ACC team member three times and a Wooden Award Finalist. He led the Cavaliers to their first NCAA Tournament berth in six years when he averaged 19 points in the 2006-2007 campaign. Singletary was drafted 42nd overall in the 2008 NBA Draft, and his Virginia career ended with a standing ovation.

Brogdon’s accolades are immense — ACC Player of the year, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, ACC Champion, two-time All American and an alltime 111-29 record. Though a surprise to some, Virginia fans expected these performances by Brogdon to translate to the NBA. He was Rookie of the Year in 2017, and he currently leads the Indiana Pacers in points and is second on the team in three-point field goal percentage. I think it is fair to say that Brogdon, alongside Justin Anderson and Joe Harris, were seminal players in making the Cavaliers legitimate championship contenders, much to the dismay of ESPN analysts and NCAA basketball fans alike who despise their slow tempo. Of these three, Brogdon deserved the retired number. Uncommon in nature, it is objectively no surprise why “The President,” as he is endearingly referred to, had his iconic No. 15 jersey retired, and deservingly so.

Here is where it gets tricky. Brogdon never won a National Championship, but De’Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome all did. Yes, Virginia prides itself on tradition, and frankly, the nature of the program is modest in terms of tempo, recruits — though they are increasing in notability — and even our national respect. One could imagine the pomp and circumstance for Brogdon would be an isolated incident. That said, the three players listed boast extensive honors and a ring to prove it.

These three combined for a whopping 67 points of the Cavaliers’ 85 in their National Championship win, their last game as Cavaliers. They single-handedly, or perhaps triple-handedly, orchestrated a fitting ending to their storied careers — careers that perhaps warrant numbers in the rafters.

Hunter earned ACC Sixth Man of the Year Honors in his first playing season, and from there he only got better. In the 2018-19 season, he was ACC Defensive Player of the Year, a Wooden Award All-American, coach-voted National Defensive Player of the Year and a vital force in the National Championship run, sending Virginia to overtime in the championship game. Notably, he only played two years and still put on such consistently impressive displays. He was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft to the Los Angeles Lakers before being officially traded to the Atlanta Hawks, as well.

Jerome, the ever-reliable Cavalier guard, earned All-ACC Second Team in 2019 and Third Team in 2018 and even reached the 1,000 point club by the end of his illustrious Virginia career. Admittedly, it will not show up on an honors list, but moreover, we all remember that pass-fake-three-point combo versus Duke in January 2018. After an incredible run with the Cavaliers, Jerome was the No. 24 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Guy, former IndyStar Mr. Basketball — as the commentators never failed to say — and controversial man-bun owner, was the final piece of this lethal trio. The guard was a two-time All-ACC first-team and two-time Third-Team All-American, holds the best three-point percentage in Virginia history and is second all-time on the Cavalier three-point single season list. He was the 2018 ACC Tournament MVP and has the school record for consecutive made three-pointers with 11. Guy also put on an astounding 2019 NCAA Tournament performance, earning Final Four Most Outstanding Player. Of course, we all remember those free throws versus Auburn, too. Kyle Guy was No. 55 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.  

“Those are wonderful men, and I’ll miss them in many ways,” Coach Tony Bennett said of the trio.

As a fan, it would be great to see them all immortalized in the rafters, alongside the lone National Championship banner they earned, but that seems like a pipe dream. Realistically, one of these three absolutely deserves a retired number.

Ultimately, I have to propose Kyle Guy’s No. 5 be retired. In terms of consistent collegiate players, he was one of the best. Moreover, he boasts the most individual accolades among the three and uniquely holds two program records. Though drafted last out of his stellar teammates, he means so much to the program. Entering as a five-star recruit and leaving as a champion, undoubtedly a Virginia great, Kyle Guy wholly deserves to be glorified in the rafters with the other Cavalier legends.

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