CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Describing the opportunity as a tremendous honor that surpassed being used in an official March Madness game, the cut-down basketball net from the UVA’s Elite Eight win against Purdue University will be delivering the commencement speech to the university’s graduating class, President Jim Ryan confirmed Saturday.
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“I’m honored to have the opportunity to speak to our graduating Wahoos,” the inanimate woven mesh of nylon said in an interview, adding that watching the university’s basketball team come back to win the match in overtime, before being ceremonially cut down by head coach Tony Bennett, made him feel like the sixth player.
“I may very well be just another net that ends up in a display shelf in John Paul Jones Arena after all of this is over, but I know ambition — and the ambition I saw when Mamadi Diakite made the basket that forced the Purdue game into overtime was truly awe-inspiring. I hope to deliver something equally valuable to the graduating students at the upcoming commencement.”
After pausing to take several promotional photos with the championship Gatorade cooler, who will be delivering the opening remarks, the net went on, declaring that, “Every student has a victory like that in them, and though they might not all be Kyle Guy, they can all achieve something decently important. It might not be as important as advancing to the Final Four and going on to win the NCAA tournament, but still important.”
At the time of reporting, the cut-down net was being fitted for a ceremonial cap and gown while hastily writing down notes for the upcoming speech.