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January 8, 2013Though some certainly exist, there are few things that Bryant Stith loves more than the University of Virginia. His passion for the school and for his Cavaliers, as well as his devotion to both, are things he'll freely admit.
And so, when conversation comes around to UVa, it's hard to ignore the excitement in his voice even as he tries to keep it at bay.
"I really cannot even begin to say enough positive things about the University," Stith explained on New Year's Eve. "I am really looking forward to seeing it all again from a different perspective."
Having already talked about the development of his youngest son BJ, a four-star UVa commit in the class of 2014, Stith sounded like someone knowing a question was coming.
After all, he's been to six straight VHSL Group AA state championship games, winning the last two at his alma mater, Brunswick High School. Having lived in Lawrenceville since his 10-year NBA career ended, it's been the home he was able to return to after his professional career.
So, could the all-time leading scorer in Cavalier history return to another home some day?
"It's a very easy decision," he says when asked if he'd like to leave the high schools ranks and be a coach at Virginia. "I think everyone around here knows that at some point, I'm going to make the jump from coaching high school to coaching in college."
It's not like he hasn't had opportunities before. It's just that he hasn't had the right one, at least not yet.
"I want to coach at the college level," he explained. "And if a position opened up on the staff at the University of Virginia, I would be honored to be able to accept it. But it won't be in the next five years."
Stith says that he knows BJ, by virtue of being who he is, will have a great deal of pressure on his shoulders when he arrives on Grounds to play for Tony Bennett. That has always been something that BJ aspired for, to follow proudly in his dad's footsteps.
But to Bryant Stith, while coaching his sons (his oldest, Brandan, is a senior this year committed to play at ECU) at Brunswick has been a gift, doing so at the next level at Virginia would be "too much," he explained.
"It would just be a lot more pressure that BJ needs," the elder Stith added. "BJ already has my last name. To play for UVa while I was a coach on that staff would just be too much."
Stith is clear that he not only values the basketball program but also the school itself. That's one of many reasons he makes a point to have his team come to a game at Virginia every other year.
"That way, basically every player that comes through my program will have had an opportunity to see a game at UVa, to visit the school, and to have that experience," Stith noted.
A lot of people go to college basketball games across the country and some might not think it's that big of a deal. But for kids from Brunswick County, Stith says, it's "a special opportunity" that he can see has an impact.
"We haven't made the trip this yet but I can tell you our players are very excited about it because the ones that haven't gone have heard about it," Stith added. "They have already put in their requests for what game to go see."
The Bulldogs, because of their own schedule, won't likely be able to head to Charlottesville until later this month.
If the Dogs stick to Stith's every-other-year rotation, this will be the last time he makes the trip with his squad as both coach and dad.
Hard to believe it's been more than a year and four months since he saw his youngest son commit to Virginia. The next phase is creeping up methodically both for him and for his sons.
As much as he enjoys the coaching side of that equation, Stith says he can't wait for the time when he need only worry about being just another parent. Well, as much as he can be "just another" parent while in Charlottesville.
"I'm looking forward to being a father for the next five years," Stith added.