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November 15, 2013

Stith feels the emotion in signing

It was just another day. Another form. Another place to sign so four-star guard B.J. Stith could take another step on his march to college basketball at UVa. But the future Cavalier, fulfilling a lifetime dream, was overcome by emotion.

That tends to happen when you get what you worked so hard to have.

The 6-foot-5, 180-pound Stith officially became a member of UVa's basketball program on Wednesday, though it had been some 802 days since he originally committed to the Wahoos.

"I didn't know I was going to get that emotional," he told CavsCorner. "Honestly, I really didn't. It was probably one of the best days of my life. I couldn't stop smiling and it was one I'll never forget.

"I've been committed for such a long time," he added, "and I've been going to Virginia for such a long time. But just the thought that now it was finally final and official, it hit me. It's concrete that there's no other place that I'm going other than UVa. That just made it 10 times better when I signed."

Stith, of course, will carry more than just his own dreams when he arrives in Charlottesville. He grew up wanting to be just like his father Bryant, UVa's all-time leading scorer and his former high school coach. Since he committed to Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers two years ago, the younger Stith has known what wearing that jersey with that name will mean.

"Everything from when I was a little kid and working hard growing up doing all the little things, it just paid off today," he added. "I sat down and I thought about all the work that goes into getting to this point. And then my team came in around me and gave their support, coaches gave their support, it was just a special moment."

After winning three state titles at Brunswick High School on teams coached by his father, Stith transferred to storied Oak Hill Academy for his senior season. And that's where he and fellow ACC signees like Caleb and Cody Martin (NC State) and Shelton Mitchell (Wake Forest) took part in a signing day ceremony on Wednesday.

The emotion of signing came just a day after Stith led all scorers with 21 points and 7 rebounds in OHA's 83-50 win over Faith Baptist. That came four days after he had 20 points in an 83-45 win over Word of God Academy. The Warriors are 6-1 this season going into Friday night's game against 2016 phenom Thon Maker and Carlisle School.

"I think overall, the season has been great," Stith said. "I think at the beginning of the year, there was all this hype and we were ranked No. 4 in the country or whatever, and I think maybe we were reading our press a little bit. First couple of games were wins but they weren't the caliber that they should of been for a team from Oak Hill.

"The loss to Quality Education really took us back to reality and settled us down because I think it was the best thing for us. After that, we got back in focus and back into the grind and we're playing 10 times better now than we were at the beginning of the year. I know my stats have improved big time because of that. I'm feeling very, very comfortable now."

What's changed for him over the course of the first seven games of his senior year?

"I think I was pressing a little," he said. "I was caught up in what it means to play for Oak Hill and I was rushing and not being myself. I was trying to be someone I wasn't."

Stith rolled his ankle in the loss to QEA and missed the next game but since then he's responded, he said.

"I started to think less, play within myself and do the things I know I can do, and as a result of that my numbers have gotten better but most importantly we've gotten big wins," he added.

Though OHA played on Tuesday night, Stith did get a chance to watch the last six or seven minutes of UVa's loss to VCU. Despite coming out on the losing end, he liked what he saw from the Cavaliers.

"From what I got to see, I thought we did pretty well but VCU is a really good team and I think we handled their pressure well," Stith said. "I thought we did well considering this game came so early in the season and our defense, of course, was always there. We were in foul trouble some which hurt but that was a tough shot they hit at the buzzer. It was good defense, though. Can't really complain about that. I'm still encouraged about the season we're going to have."

As his team rolls on and he continues on his journey, he says he'll look back at this week as the time he officially began to realize a dream.

"I just thought it would be some routine deal but just knowing that I'm going to the school that I've always dreamed of, knowing that it's another step in chasing my ultimate goals, it really gave me a lot of happiness inside," he added. "It was special."


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