Huff working to fill bigger role for 'Hoos

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Jay Huff is quick to admit that it feels a little different around John Paul Jones Arena this summer.

"I feel a little old. I've been here, this is my fourth year and all these guys are coming in pretty new," admitted Huff, a rising redshirt junior on the Virginia basketball team. "Not in a bad way, it just feels like I've been here longer than everybody else. Except Mamadi. Mamadi's been here for a long time."

"But it feels good," Huff said. "It's going to be a good group of guys. A lot of hard workers coming in."

The 7-1 Huff arrived at UVA in 2016 as part of a recruiting class that also included guards Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome, and wing De'Andre Hunter. Three years later, the Wahoos are NCAA champions -- but those three are all off to the NBA after leaving school early.

Huff also took to Instagram in the days following UVA's national title win in April, but Huff wasn't declaring for the NBA Draft. Instead, he was announcing his intention to stay at the school -- making Huff one of the veteran leaders remaining on the Cavaliers' roster.

"I think we just handle our business the same way we always do," said Huff, who has appeared in 46 games the past two seasons after redshirting in 2016-17. "I think I have to put in a lot of work, and show the young guys what it is that has gotten us this far, got us to last year."

Another key difference for Huff this summer has been how much basketball he can actually play. He spent much of last summer on the exercise bike after a shoulder injury. He's healthy this summer.

"I've been working on a lot of post work. Mainly just strength, some weight," Huff said. "I've put on about nine pounds. I definitely feel a lot stronger, heavier."

Huff shot 60.4 percent from the floor in 34 games off the bench last year, including 45.2 percent from beyond the 3-point line. He finished the season averaging 4.4 points and 2.1 rebounds per game, with 25 blocks.

But Huff only averaged 3.6 minutes in the Cavaliers' six NCAA Tournament victories. He hopes to play a bigger part of another run at UVA history this season.

"We keep talking about how we want to win another championship, because last year was last year," Huff said. "Doesn't mean that it wasn't great, or we don't celebrate it. But at the same time, it doesn't matter this year. And everybody is going to be coming at us, giving us their best shot. But we just have to prepare the same way we always have."



 
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