The Final Four will be the latest unforgettable memory for UVA basketball fans this season.
And as the Cavaliers get set to play on the sport’s biggest stage, one player’s dreams already came true back in January on the practice court.
And his teammates helped make the viral moment much more special.
In the locker room in Columbia, South Carolina, during the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament, one Virginia teammate asked Austin Katstra what it’s like to play for the hometown school.
“It’s really a dream come true,” Katstra said. “Just growing up here and watching UVA my whole life and to end up playing there is pretty cool.”
Katstra may not play a single minute in this year’s NCAA tournament. But the sophomore has already had his one shining moment this season.
It came in practice, days before the first Commonwealth Clash of the year, on a life changing free throw.
When Katstra made it, head coach Tony Bennett told him: “That was a big free throw — you just got a scholarship.”
With his teammates cheering around him, Katstra was no longer a walk-on player for UVA.
“That is one of the greatest joys as a coach,” Bennett said, “I can’t tell you what the walk-on guys mean to our program, how valued they are and how they give and then to be able to say, look — here’s a scholarship for financial blessing and just what you’ve done was great so to see Austin’s look and the teammates embrace him — those are the best things about coaching that I’ll never forget.”
The moment was captured on video and viewed nearly 41 thousand times on Twitter, capturing the surprise of a lifetime for Katstra.
“It was really a surreal experience, I had no idea it was coming,” Katstra said. “It caught me completely off guard. I was in shock for a little bit but my teammates were so happy for me, it was so awesome.”
In case you were wondering, his teammates were in on the surprise too.
“It makes me feel like I’m in the perfect place,” Katstra said. “I’m surrounded by 15 other guys that love me unconditionally. That’s something you don’t get on every team for sure.”
Katstra, a Charlottesville native, is now on the ride of a lifetime to Minneapolis.
Alongside his teammates, who’ve made him feel home wherever he goes.