March 3, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE — As he weighed his college options, Ty Jerome knew he couldn’t realistically expect to start at point guard as a freshman at the University of Virginia.
London Perrantes, after all, would be a senior during Jerome’s first year at UVA. But that didn’t turn Jerome off on Virginia. He welcomed the opportunity to serve an apprenticeship of sorts under Perrantes.
“I hoped to play beside him a little bit, and in the beginning I didn’t really get to much,” Jerome said Wednesday at John Paul Jones Arena. “I just kept working, and I’ve had the opportunity as of late [to play with Perrantes] a little bit more. But regardless, learning from him this year is going to be so valuable for me moving forward, and so is building that relationship. I’ll have his help for however long I play.”
At noon Saturday, in its regular-season finale, No. 23 Virginia (20-9 overall, 10-7 ACC) meets Pittsburgh (15-15, 4-13) at JPJ. Perrantes is the only senior among the Cavaliers’ players, and he’ll be honored before the game, along with student-managers Max Barab and Logan Ford, in a ceremony that’s scheduled to start around 11:40 a.m.
“I don’t think I’ll realize it until I’m walking out for Senior Night,” Perrantes said of playing at JPJ for the final time. “I feel like I’ve been here for everybody else’s Senior Night, and now it’s my turn.”
For Jerome, a 6-5 guard from New Rochelle, N.Y., playing with Perrantes has been an unforgettable experience.
“I don’t think I could have asked for a better senior leader, on and off court,” Jerome said. “I’ll definitely miss him on the court a lot, and I might even miss him off the court more next year.
“I got the opportunity to play behind him, and as of late I’ve played a lot with him. It’s just been phenomenal.”
Jerome made his first start last Saturday in Raleigh, N.C., and helped Virginia defeat NC State 70-55. Two nights later, he started again in UVA’s 53-43 upset of No. 5 North Carolina at JPJ.
In 2017-18, he’s likely to be the Wahoos’ No. 1 point guard, and playing with Perrantes should be good preparation for Jerome.
“I definitely want to take a lot from his game,” Jerome said. “I want to be my own person, my own player, for sure, but I definitely want to take the fact that never gets sped up, he takes great shots, and no matter who he has around him, he’s always trying to play his game.”
The 6-2 Perrantes, who came to Charlottesville from Los Angeles in the summer of 2013, has played a leading role in an incredible run of success for the `Hoos.
He’s started a program-record 129 games and ranks second all-time at UVA in 3-point percentage (41.1), fourth in assists (555), sixth in 3-pointers (203), sixth in games played (133), seventh in wins (105) and 41st in points (1,145).
Thanks in no small part to Perrantes’ contributions, Virginia is poised to make a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 1980s.
“He’s a heck of a kid , a heck of a competitor, and I really enjoy watching him play when he is playing somebody else,” UNC head coach Roy Williams said Monday night. “I don’t enjoy watching him play when he’s playing us.”
Asked Monday night about playing with Perrantes, Hall said, “It’s been a blessing. He’s been my roommate from day one, and he lives with me now. This is my brother, and I’m going to miss him so much.”
Seated next to Hall at the postgame press conference, Perrantes rolled his eyes at his friend.
“He’s soft,” Perrantes said, smiling. “Don’t get sentimental.”
Hall said: “It’s been a crazy ride, and it’s been a lot of fun, and I’m going to miss him.”
It’s hard for Isaiah Wilkins to believe Perrantes’ final game at JPJ is almost here, the junior forward said, for two reasons: “A, he’s done so much for this program, and B, this season’s gone by so fast. Obviously, it’ll be an emotional day. Everybody loves London and the crowd will be very into it. Hopefully, we’ll pull out a win.”
In Virginia’s win over UNC, Perrantes’ contribution was immense. He helped shut down Carolina star Justin Jackson, and Perrantes scored nine of his 13 points in the second half.
“He’s not afraid of the big moment,” Wilkins said. “He’s a guy that’s proved it.”
Perrantes has proved that from the start at UVA. As a freshman, he helped Virginia win the first ACC tournament title for the first time since 1976 and only second time in program history.
“It was unreal,” Perrantes said.
That UVA team advanced to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet Sixteen. The `Hoos lost in the NCAA tourney’s round of 32 when Perrantes was a sophomore and then advanced to the Elite Eight last season.
As the end of his college career nears, Perrantes said, UVA means “everything to me. It’s my second home, my second family.
“I didn’t really know what was going to happen when I came out here for these next four years of my life going into college, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life, something that I live and die for, this program. I did so much with this program, with the coaches and the players around me.
“I love this program to death, for sure.”
His favorite memory? Probably the March 1, 2014, game against Syracuse at JPJ, where Virginia clinched the ACC regular-season crown with a 75-56 victory.
“Being able to win that regular-season title in front of the home crowd and being able to cut the nets down in front of the home crowd was just huge for me,” Perrantes recalled. “[It hadn’t] been done in such a long time. It was huge for the program. It was huge for the city.”
The ACC tournament starts Tuesday in Brooklyn, N.Y. Virginia’s seeding won’t be determined until Saturday.
In addition to men’s basketball, three other UVA teams are competing in Charlottesville this weekend: softball, women’s tennis and baseball. Some of the storylines:
SOFTBALL: At long last, the Cavaliers get to play at home. Joanna Hardin’s first game at The Park also will be her first ACC game at UVA’s head coach.
Virginia (8-8) hosts Virginia Tech (8-5) in a three-game series that starts Friday at 5 p.m. The in-state rivals play at 1 p.m. Saturday and at noon Sunday.
The Friday and Sunday games can be seen online on ACC Network Extra, which is available to ESPN3 subscribers through WatchESPN and the ESPN app.
Coming into the season, Hardin liked what she’d seen from her players in practice and intrasquad scrimmages, “but you don’t really know what’ll happen when the lights are on,” she said.
The early returns have been positive. This marks the first time since 2012 that UVA has entered March with eight victories. The Cavaliers finished 18-33 overall and 7-14 in ACC play last year.
“We’ve definitely scrapped and clawed for some wins, and there were some games that were close that we let slip away,” Hardin said. “Overall, we’re pleased, and we’re ready to get after Virginia Tech this weekend.”
“The offense has been doing a great job for us,” Hardin said. “I don’t know if we expected to hit 21 home runs, but the beauty is, we’re not swinging for home runs.”
Davis had four home runs and Miller two in 2016. Gott? She batted .097, with no homers and four RBI, in 22 games. She’s hitting .364, with 11 RBI, this season.
“Olivia displayed her power from the get-go,” Hardin said, “but she had some pretty big mechanical issues in the fall. You’ve got to hand it to her. She’s worked really hard. She has a great approach.”
WOMEN’S TENNIS: Virginia (4-3 overall, 2-0 ACC) hosts Virginia Tech (7-2) at noon Sunday at the Snyder Tennis Center. This will be the second ACC dual match for Virginia Tech, which plays Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Friday.
The Cavaliers lead the series with the Hokies 37-5.
Because of illness, Virginia has been without junior Teodora Radosavljevic, a transfer from George Washington, this semester. Radosavljevic, who hopes to return soon, posted a 9-6 singles record in the fall.
Haseley is hitting .438 with four home runs and 11 RBI. Clement, who has a team-high 15 hits, is batting .395 with 10 RBI. Smith leads the team with 15 RBI and is hitting .382.
Smith has three homers, as does graduate student Robbie Coman, who leads the team with a .467 batting average. Virginia’s 13 home runs are its most through eight games in 13-plus seasons under head coach Brian O’Connor.
The Wahoos will play four games in a round-robin event at Davenport Field this weekend.
At 4 p.m. Friday, Virginia meets Niagara (3-3). On Saturday, UVA takes on La Salle (0-7) at noon and Niagara at approximately 3 p.m. Finally, on Sunday, the `Hoos play La Salle at 2:30 p.m.
Fans who attend the men’s basketball game at JPJ on Saturday afternoon can catch some baseball later in the day. A ticket from the hoops game can be redeemed for admission (GA) to Saturday’s games at Davenport Field.
Virginia opens ACC play next weekend (March 10-12) with a three-game series at North Carolina.