I’m a huge UVA fan. I have followed the Cavaliers since I was 9 and Tom Sheehey defined the term “grunt work.” My love for the Cavaliers only grew as Richard Morgan became a star, the Bryant Stith era morphed into the Junior Burrough/ Cory Alexander era, and the team earned 2 Elite 8 trips in six seasons. My love has never faded over these last 26 seasons, even if the Cavs haven’t made a Saturday appearance in the ACC tournament since 1995. Every year, I root and cheer with the same fervor as I did when I was a young kid who didn’t know better.
This year is different. Yes, I will still be a UVA super fan, and I will continue to enjoy every moment and not take for granted one second of what I believe is a truly special season for the Cavs. But there is something else I will take pleasure in rooting for just as much, or I should say, someone. This year, in the fifth round of our ACC fantasy draft, I took a young kid from Boston College, whose sole positive attribute is that he shoots 3 pointers well, Lonnie Jackson. (To be fair, Lonnie Jackson probably has many positive attributes off the basketball court, such as a pleasant demeanor, a winning smile, and a love of puppies and babies.)
**Before I go further, I should put in a note about our ACC fantasy league. We only count intra-conference games, so we don’t draft until mid-December. Our draft is 7 rounds and we have a ten team league.
As the fifth round headed my way, and I awaited my pick in the 8th slot out of 10, I noticed that I needed someone who could make 3 pointers. As I scanned the list of 3 point shooters who had not yet been picked, I came across Mr. Jackson from Boston College. Upon further digging, he was coming off a 26 point game in which he had just made 7 of 11 three point shots. Nice, of course, but he was still only averaging about 7 points a game, and this would most likely be his best game of the year, and it was against Bryant U (which apparently is NOT a university for kids who want to grow up to become ballhogs).
Then, I took a look at the next all important statistic when it comes to picking in the lower rounds of an ACC fantasy basketball draft…minutes played. Jackson’s overall minutes for Boston College were barely over 20 a game, and yet…. In his previous 4 games, he had played at least 29 minutes (that streak has since extended to 7 straight). At that moment, I was sold. Lonnie Jackson would be my fifth round pick if he could just make it to me. As pick after pick went by, and I finally was able to e-mail his name to everybody, I was ecstatic. I knew in my head that I had just gotten the steal of the draft, and at that moment, I became a fan of the worst team in the ACC in recent memory (unless you want to make a case for last year’s Wake Forest team). Lonnie Jackson was my discovery, someone continually passed over in whom I saw real value. He’s my guy now (and it doesn’t hurt that I snatched him right before one of my best friends was going to take him). As he has continued to play big minutes, my man crush only grows. I see the positives in young Lonnie. I don’t worry that he only took two shots in 35 minutes against Harvard, I see that he hit 50% of his shots and got a block and three steals.
So, this Saturday, I will be front and center at 6:00pm for UVA’s opener against Miami. Just as importantly, I will DVR the 2:30 Boston College game as they take on Carolina in Chapel Hill. Few will root for Boston College. Even many Carolina fans will not care much about the game as it figures to be one of the worst blowouts of the season. But there will be one fan, sitting in his living room in Richmond, Virginia, irrationally rooting for the 6’3 freshman who made his way to Boston via California, caring about the fifth leading scorer on a crappy team more than perhaps anyone outside of his family does (and that’s even debatable). This is why I enjoy ACC fantasy basketball so much. Lonnie Jackson, the man crush has begun.
By Chip McNamara
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