The No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers squashed the Coppin State Eagles with a 97-40 victory on Friday night. Eight Wahoos contributed at least six points which helped Virginia add another win to their 3-0 2018-2019 season record thus far. However, Grant Kersey, the new fan favorite of the Virginia squad stole the show with one shot in the last minute of the blowout.
Who is Grant Kersey?
By now, Virginia basketball fans are well aware of the young man who has been wearing the No. 1 jersey for the Cavaliers. A Charlottesville native and Albemarle High School alum, junior Kersey has served the Virginia Men’s basketball program as a team manager for two years. A dedicated player and big-time basketball fan, Kersey always dreamed of playing in college but passed up walk-on and Division III opportunities in order to pursue his academic goals at the University of Virginia.
As a team manager, Grant along with the other managers devote approximately 20-24 hours a week to the Virginia men’s basketball team. When they aren’t attending class or studying in the library, they spend their time doing a little bit of everything to make sure the team is ready to play. Their tasks include setting up equipment, collecting rebounds, mixing Gatorade, wiping up sweat and acting as practice players in their green jerseys.
A Dream Come True
Earlier this season, Kersey came off the bench in last 45 seconds of the season home-opener against the Towson Tigers. The crowd went wild when they saw the Virginia No. 1 jersey run out onto the court for the last moments of the game.
Kersey said, “it still doesn’t feel real. I see the pictures after the first game, and they feel Photoshopped a little bit.”
Since then, Kersey has been a crowd pleaser and has had a few other moments of glory on the court of John Paul Jones Arena. In the second game of the season, when the Cavaliers took on the George Washington Colonials, head coach Tony Bennett again, let the team manager in the unnamed jersey take the court in the last remaining minute of the game. The guard drew a foul and took the ball to the line where he made both of his free throws, marking his first collegiate points in the books.
Once again, Bennett made a point to bring in the favorite man off the bench in the final minutes of the blowout against Coppin State last Friday. Kersey got the final word for the Virginia Cavaliers when he nailed a bucket from behind the arc at the one-minute mark of the game against Eagles, raising the Wahoos to 97 points. The crowd erupted with cheers as the bench full of starters went bonkers for Kersey’s first collegiate three pointer:
Bennett said, “It was great for Grant to knock that down, and I kept telling those guys to play the possessions instead of focusing on the score. He took that shot like he knew it was going in, and that was the loudest that I heard the crowd.”
The story of a team manager earning a jersey is not unprecedented in Bennett’s career. Back in 2013, Bennett let third-year Maleek Frazier officially join the roster after serving as a manager for two years. Bennett also let junior former Cavalier manager Trevon Gross spend his third year as a player for the 2015-16 season.
“I always talk about how our managers just give, give, give,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said. “They are true servants, and when you get the chance to reward that, you don’t pass it up.”
What’s next for Kersey?
As the season picks up in competitive play, Kersey will still be allowed to dress for the rest of the Virginia home games. However, this time, he will be donning a specialized jersey made to fit his stature and sporting the number 13.