Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon are the only two players to have started for Virginia in every game this season.
Harris’ inclusion is easy to understand. He is, after all, known as “Joey Hoops.”
But Brogdon missed all of last season with a foot injury, is a streaky shooter and doesn’t really have a true position.
So what gives?
One factor that has made him a favorite of Virginia coach Tony Bennett’s is his rebounding ability.
The 6-foot-5 Brogdon is second on the team, averaging 5.5 boards per game. The sophomore’s 4.9 defensive rebounds per contest rank ninth in the ACC.
In Virginia’s 74-51 demolition of Wake Forest on Wednesday, Brogdon had six rebounds.
“He’s one of the best guard rebounders that I’ve seen,” Bennett said. “For a guy who doesn’t have a great vertical, he just has a knack for snatching those things with his hands and using his strength.”
Virginia freshman London Perrantes said Brogdon’s large paws are an advantage.
“Have you seen his hands?” Perrantes asked. “His hands are ridiculous.
“And he has a knack for the ball – you see it on the offensive end, too. He’s always in the right position at the right time and has good size and strength, so he can come down with rebounds, and his hands definitely help him with that.”
Brogdon downplays his rebounding prowess.
“The bigs do all the work,” he said. “They box out and then the ball’s in the air and one of the guards has to come back and rebound, so that’s really what happens when I get my rebounds.”
After missing the 2012-13 campaign, Brogdon, like teammate Anthony Gill, has been trying to shake off a little rust.
The Atlanta native started the season on fire. In his first six games, he shot 55 percent from the field (26 of 47), including 50 percent (8 of 16) from 3-point range.
However, until a breakout performance on Wednesday in which he scored a team-high 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, Brogdon had shot just 25 percent (16 of 63), only 25 percent (8 of 32) from 3.
Brogdon, who has bounced back and forth between the point guard and wing positions, showed encouraging signs against Wake Forest. His first three buckets came on strong drives, while his next two came on 3-pointers.
“I’m trying to get the mindset of attacking the rim instead of settling for open jump shots early,” he said. “I think that will benefit me and the whole team if I do that – if I’m aggressive early at the rim and open things up for us.”
Bennett, whose team plays at NC State on Saturday night, called Brogdon’s performance against the Demon Deacons “good.”
“Hopefully, that is just from some of the things we’re doing to put these guys in the right spots,” Bennett said. “You never know, maybe this is the point where the guys who redshirted and sat out a year find their rhythm and their timing a little more. I’m very thankful that he’s out there and he’s practicing hard and we’ll keep going in that direction.
“So many of our guys are important. There’s not one guy that isn’t important. But he is taking care of the ball and is leading in practice well and it’s made a difference.”