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Virginia still represented in Final Four, though all state teams out

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Posted at 9:28 PM, Mar 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-27 23:54:41-04

CHICAGO — Midwest Region No. 10-seed Syracuse moved into the Final Four in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament Sunday, downing No. 1-seed Virginia 68-62. Syracuse will play East Region No. 1 North Carolina next Saturday in Houston.

Kenny Williams, a freshman for UNC>

Kenny Williams, a freshman for UNC

While all Virginia teams — UVA, VCU, and Hampton — were knocked out of the tournament, Richmond still has a few people to root for — and they are facing each other in their next game.

Tar Heel freshman Kenny Williams is a guard from Chesterfield, who will visit the Final Four in his first year now that No. 1 seed UNC  beat No. 6 seed Notre Dame.

Williams claims Midlothian as his hometown, and played ball for LC Bird, where he led them to 89 wins. Williams scored 1,603 career points (15.7 per game) and had 488 rebounds, 247 assists, 247 steals and shot 38 percent from three-point range in high school.

Richmond is also represented in the Final Four by Michael Gbinije, the Syracuse Orange do-everything point guard.

Gbinije lives in Chesterfield County and attended Benedictine High School his junior and senior year. It was there, the basketball star said he learned some important lessons both on and off the court.

“It was an all-boy military school. So if you did not learn discipline there, I do not know where you would learn it,” Gbinije said about his time at Benedictine. “I learned how to interact, especially with my teammates.”

He also learned how to win.

Gbinije led to Cadets (26-5) to the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division I State Championship his senior year. He was also named VISAA Division I State Player of the Year.

Gbinije was recruited by Coach K and perennial college basketball powerhouse Duke. But he only stayed in Durham one season. Gbinije transferred to Syracuse after his freshman year in search of more playing time, and  eventually took over as the starting point guard for the Orange [Read more].

"Of all the players I've ever coached, he's the most underrated player that I've ever coached," Jim Boeheim, Syracuse's Hall of Fame head coach who has led the Orange since 1976, said after Friday's night's Sweet 16 win over Gonzaga, a game in which Gbinije led the Orange in scoring with 20 points.

From underrated, to sweet, to elite, Michael Gbinije cemented his name in Syracuse basketball history as a star who led the Orange to the Final Four.

Anthony Solomon

Anthony Solomon

Anthony Solomon, assistant coach for Notre Dame

And if UNC HAD fallen to Notre Dame, there would have been  a Virginia connection. Anthony Solomon, the assistant coach for Notre Dame, previously coached at both Richmond and UVA. He also played at UVA, and was  a member of the ‘84 team that advanced to the NCAA Final Four in Seattle, Washington.

He has coached for the Notre Dame men’s basketball program for 10 seasons. He is a Virginia native and grew up in Newport News.

Syracuse faces UNC on Saturday April 2, at 8:49 p.m. on TBS.