Earlier this season, fifth-year Virginia big man Tunji Soroye appeared to be done. After receiving a medical redshirt from the NCAA, Soroye hadn’t found the fifth season redemption he was hoping for. He didn’t play for three games in a row early in the season due to lingering back and knee injuries and when he was playing, the minutes were unproductive, not to mention few and far between.
But the 6’11” center seems to have been resurrected for the last games of his collegiate career. Especially with the injury of freshman center Assane Sene , Soroye has gotten one last shot to make his mark on this year’s team and he’s not letting it pass him by. Recently, the Nigerian has had an extra spring in his step, playing with a great deal more energy and aggression than anyone has seen in a long time.
“I didn’t play him more a few games ago because I wanted to, I did it because he played in that way [more aggressive] – much, much more,” Virginia coach Dave Leitao said. “As a result, he’s played better in practice every day and played through his back a little bit more. As a result, he’s been more effective.”
In the last three games alone, the Nigerian has registered 7 blocks and 11 rebounds while playing more minutes than he has in years. In the loss to Wake Forest last week, Soroye accumulated 26 minutes of playing time. Against Virginia Tech two weeks ago, Soroye recorded 2 rebounds, 6 points and a block in only seven minutes. Against Clemson this week, he had 3 rebounds and a season-high 3 blocks while battling foul trouble; he has recorded multiple blocks in three straight games.
“Tunji’s been stepping up a lot and helping us,” Virginia freshman Sylven Landesberg said. “In practice, he’s playing hard and in the games, he’s playing hard and doing everything we need. With Assane out right now, we don’t know how long he’s going to be out for, so we really need Tunji to keep playing that...
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