Senior Grant Kersey served four years as a manager for the Virginia men’s basketball program. Kersey earned playing time in 11 games for the Cavaliers, scoring 15 points on perfect shooting. His 3-pointer against Marshall during the 2018-19 season gave Virginia its first 100-point game under head coach Tony Bennett. Hoos Life caught up with Kersey to discuss his unique experience at UVA, family, love for basketball and inviting Italy native Tomas Woldetensae to live with his family during the pandemic.
Q: How would you describe your experience as a four-year manager, which included 11 games as a player, with the Virginia men’s basketball program?
Kersey: A dream come true. Growing up in Charlottesville and coming to UVA sporting events, especially basketball games, I could not have asked for a better four years. This entire experience still feels so surreal. It was a privilege to be part of this program. I’m forever grateful.
Q: How do you explain your perfect shooting (4-of-4 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers and 5-of-5 from the free throw line) during your 11 appearances?
Kersey: Mamba Mentality.
Q: The Virginia fans’ last memory of you is seeing you raise your framed jersey during Senior Day. What was the moment like for you?
Kersey: Something I never told anyone during my first year, except my roommate, Bryce McGlothlin, was that a dream goal would be raising up a framed jersey on Senior Day. To have that come true and to do it surrounded by my family, friends, and everyone in the program, was very special to me. I can’t thank Coach Bennett, Ronnie Wideman (director of operations) and the entire coaching staff enough for allowing me to have that moment.
Q: What else can you share about being a Virginia basketball manager?
Kersey: When I first decided to pursue becoming a manager, I had no idea how influential this program and the five pillars would be in my life. The relationships I’ve made, and the lessons and experiences learned are priceless. It’s helped make me a better person on and off the court.
Q: Your late grandfather, Jess Kersey, was a long-time NBA referee. What can you tell us about him and what did he share with you about the NBA?
Kersey: The main thing he used to tell me was that foul shots are called free throws for a reason. I should never miss since there is no defense guarding me and they are “free!” Every time I step to the free throw line his voice goes through my head, so I credit my 5-for-5 from the line to him. Another favorite memory, he had a picture in his office of a call that he missed during the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Knicks and the Indiana Pacers. This ended up being one of the worst calls in NBA history, but still he kept that picture up as a reminder. He taught me to always own up to my mistakes and learn from them. To keep getting better. He also shared the love he had for the game and for the NBA with me. And that referees are good guys.
Q: You and your family invited Italy native and Virginia guard Tomas Woldetensae to live with you during the pandemic. How did that happen and how has it been having a “little brother” in the house?
Kersey: It was never really a question. We were coming to grips with the fact that our season was coming to an abrupt end with so much uncertainty surrounding all of us. I knew returning to Italy wasn’t an option for him and invited him to our place. My parents have always had an open door and encourage us to be there for others. We are all very easy going and super laid back which helps. It’s been better than we could have imagined. My mom will have him on the Christmas card for sure.
Q: You and Tomas are reenacting famous Virginia buzzer-beaters on social media during the pandemic. Whose idea was that and what can we expect next from you guys?
Kersey: It is a combination of both of us with the help of my sister, Madison, filming if we are both in the shot. I brought up the idea of making a video and he had ideas of how to make the videos more unique. We both wanted to do something that had not been done yet. We didn’t know what to expect in regard to how people would respond or react to the videos. We just made them for fun and to interact with fans. We both just let the ideas come to us, so we will have to wait and see what is next.
Q: You will graduate in May with a degree in American Studies with a concentration in American Social Problems with Sports Culture. What intrigued you about that major?
Kersey: Kyle (Guy) actually mentioned the major to me when we were deciding on majors. I created this specific concentration for myself due to interesting classes I had already taken, and my love for sports. I also believe it is applicable to today’s society.
Q: Your father, Todd, is a Virginia graduate and is the Chief Operating Officer of the Virginia Athletics Foundation, and your uncle, Bryan, is the ACC Supervisor of Officials. How have they impacted your love for UVA and sports?
Kersey: Just like my grandfather, they have shared a love for the game of basketball. I grew up around the game and I’m very fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of people through them that I see at events and on road trips. I have gotten to know a few referees over the years, so it’s cool seeing them throughout the season.
Q: You are a Charlottesville native. What is it like going to school at UVA and having your family nearby?
Kersey: Family has always been very important to me and was ultimately a huge factor in me deciding to stay in Charlottesville and attend UVA. However, at first UVA was not on my original college list as I wanted to move away from home. My parents encouraged me to apply and keep my options open. I am so glad they did. I love being able to come home for cooked meals and to be supported by the community I grew up in.
Q: What are your best memories of UVA?
Kersey: Obviously, the road to the Final Four. Which included the loss to UMBC. Coach Bennett and the staff taught us how to handle such a loss with grace and to use adversity to our advantage. Also, the many pickup games at The Dell or AFC (Aquatics and Fitness Center), the manager games and the relationships I’ve developed. And coming back to my apartment to find Jack Salt sitting in my room playing Fortnite, which happened frequently.
Q: What else are you doing during this time at home?
Kersey: Just trying to make the most of the days and the extra time I have to spend with my family. You name it, we’ve done it. Fortnite, 2k, puzzles, Netflix, working out, shooting in the driveway and trying to learn how to cook from Tom.
Q: What is the next step in your career path?
Kersey: I’ve decided to stay at UVA and pursue my master’s in Higher Education specializing in intercollegiate athletics administration through the Curry School.
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