Iverson relieved to be back on court

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Jeff Potrykus
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Thursday, March 16, 2017

Wisconsin sophomore guard Khalil Iverson sensed trouble as he walked off the Verizon Center floor Friday night in Washington, D.C.

His older brother, Kevin, was waiting for him after UW's victory over Indiana in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.

“He had a look on his face,” Iverson said quietly as he sat in the UW locker room before practice Wednesday at KeyBank Center. “I knew something was wrong.”

Iverson, from Delaware, Ohio, learned two cousins had been shot to death that night. Iverson, his brother and their mother flew home on the first available flight.

“When I got home everybody was pretty rattled,” said Iverson, who missed UW's last two games in the league tournament. “Just hurt.”

The pain was palpable Wednesday as No. 8-seeded UW prepared to face No. 9 Virginia Tech in the first round.

Iverson, who rejoined teammates late Monday in Madison, quietly answered questions about his latest loss.

He was relieved to be back on the court.

“It cleared my mind,” he said.

He is diligently keeping in contact with his mother and brother, who remain home.

He expects to play tonight but isn't sure how the deaths will affect him.

“As of right now I'm trying not to think about it too much,” he said. “Just trying to focus on basketball.”

Sophomore Charlie Thomas is Iverson's roommate. He let Iverson know he is ready to talk at any hour.

“I'm always willing to help out and discuss anything he wants to,” Thomas said.

UW associate head coach Lamont Paris can't predict how well Iverson will play tonight.

"It seems like he is—all things considered—in a good place as far as basketball is concerned," Paris said.

The staff has no plans to treat Iverson any differently.

“You have to continue to hold everyone to the same standard,” Paris said. “Otherwise you are jeopardizing the fabric of your belief system.”

Iverson was able to crack a smile during UW's practice Wednesday. When the team closed the session with its usual half-court shot contest, Iverson buried three of his attempts.

Iverson is accustomed to dealing with losses. He was a senior in high school when his father died from a heart attack on Nov. 9, 2014. Kevin Iverson was 43.

“I've seen a lot,” Iverson said quietly. “But I guess it is just life.”

And death.

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