Dec. 19, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE - After three seasons as a walk-on member of the Virginia men's basketball program, head coach Tony Bennett awarded senior guard Thomas Rogers (Farmville, Va.) a full scholarship for the 2013-14 season.
Rogers has appeared in six games this season, tallying his first career points against Liberty on Nov. 23 in his 27th career game.
Rogers recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com to talk about his scholarship and Virginia basketball.
Q: You joined the program four years ago as a walk-on, but you were awarded a scholarship for your senior season. What did that gesture from Coach Bennett mean to you?
Thomas Rogers: "It meant a lot because it showed that the coaches recognized what I was doing for the team. I might not get a lot of minutes, but I try to help the team every day in practice. It was great to be rewarded with a scholarship and it meant the world to me and my family."
Q: This season, you are the only senior among the group of walk-ons. What have you tried to instill in the younger players?
TR: "I try to be a leader with that group. When I got here, Will Sherrill and Doug Browman showed me that if you work really hard then you will be rewarded. It is good to know that those things don't go unnoticed. I am trying to set an example for them, like those guys did for me, so the younger guys can see what can come out of giving it your all every day."
Q: Earlier this season you scored your first collegiate points and the whole arena erupted. What was that moment like for you?
TR: "Honestly, it was a giant sigh of relief. I was stressing myself for three years about it. But once I got that first bucket, it felt like a huge monkey off my back and then I hit one in the next game too. It just let me relax out there. I had hit a three last year in Holland, but unfortunately that one really didn't count, so it was great to make one for real."
Q: The team has had two weeks off since the loss at Green Bay. In addition to taking exams, how has the team been able to use this stretch of practice productively?
TR: "It has been really beneficial to our team. It has allowed us to refocus on a lot of the fundamentals we work on in preseason that might get overlooked when you are playing two or three games a week. It was good for us to be able to step back and see what we need to be doing better. It has shown on the court as we have had some of our best practices of the season over the past week."
Q: You have three challenging games to conclude the non-conference schedule. What does the team need to do to be successful in those contests and enter the ACC season on a high note?
TR: "We have to get back to what we do best, which is playing tough defense. Everyone knows we are a great defensive team, but we need to show that. We lost focus of that in a few games this season. We also have to be an unselfish offensive team. When we take poor shots or make bad decisions, we aren't effective on the court. I think these practices have helped us get back to where we need to be."
Getting to know Thomas:
Why did you choose No. 30?
I wore No. 32 at Fork Union, but Darion had that. A bunch of the numbers I really liked were retired or someone already had them. I liked No. 30. It is a shooter's number. Steph Curry wears it. So I took it and it has just kind of stuck with me.
Favorite Game at UVa?
It is hard not to say the Duke game last year. It was such a fun environment and it was great to finally get a win over them.
What artist do you have the most songs of?
Right now, probably Drake, because he just put out a new album. Caid (Kirven) put me onto a country group, Turnpike Troubadours, who we went to see play in concert. I have gotten into them recently. I have a nice mixture of a lot of things I listen to.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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