“I’m thinking about trying to lead, trying to have this team advance as far as we can go. That’s really where my mindset is right now,” said Brogdon, the 2016 ACC player of the year and ACC defensive player of the year, the linchpin for the top-seeded Cavs (28-7), who face fourth seed Iowa State (23-11) in the Midwest Regional semifinals Friday night in Chicago.
Brogdon gave some thought to declaring for the NBA Draft last spring, but decided to come back after a conversation with coach Tony Bennett.
“It really struck me when he said I could have it all. I could finish my legacy here, I could do something special with my teammates the last year, and I could also get my master’s degree and just finish what I started,” said Brogdon, whose draft stock, coincidentally, has improved over the past year, with some mock drafts having him as a late first-round pick this June.
“I’m a guy that’s all about not trying to take the easy way out or get out of things too early. I want to finish out. I want to finish what I start, and that’s what I wanted to do.”
Funny thing is, he wouldn’t be here if not for a broken foot suffered at the end of his freshman season at Virginia, in 2012, that forced him to redshirt the 2013 season.
Brogdon called that redshirt year “a blessing in disguise” that allowed him to mature and grow into his role as a leader in the locker room.
“I had great support from my family, from my coaches, from my teammates. I worked extremely hard to get back, and really turned that into a blessing and really have success from it,” said Brogdon, who was named first-team All-ACC when he returned in 2014, the first of three consecutive first-team all-conference selections for Brogdon.
His numbers have gotten better every year – from 6.7 points per game on 39.6 percent shooting as a freshman to 18.6 points per game on 47.6 percent shooting this year.
Iowa State coach Steve Prohm has game-planned against some good two-guards in the Big 12 – Buddy Hield at Oklahoma, Wayne Selden at Kansas.
“What they do for Brogdon, it’s all to the screen action, the constant moving, his ability to make threes, post you, and get the ball to the middle of the paint. He is a unique match-up in that regard to where he’s not really flashy. He’s just really, really productive,” Prohm said.
A two-time ACC defensive player of the year, Brogdon’s abilities on D came into the national spotlight this season as he was tasked with checking a variety of skilled ACC opponents, from 6’1” NC State point guard Cat Barber to 6’7” Clemson forward Jaron Blossomgame to 6’9” Duke freshman phenom Brandon Ingram.
It’s to a point where as good as Brogdon is offensively, he almost certainly is more valuable to Virginia on the defensive end.
And it’s almost over. The clock is ticking on a historic college career. To Brogdon, the awards are nice, but there’s still one big thing left to accomplish.
Not that Brogdon is focused on anything but Iowa State right now.
“No, honestly I’m not even thinking about it in that regard,” Brogdon said. “I’m thinking about trying to lead, trying to have this team advance as far as we can go. That’s really where my mindset is right now.”
Story by Chris Graham