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For Virginia basketball, Mustapha Farrakhan has made quite a name for himself

Virginia Coach Tony Bennett on Farrakhan:
Virginia Coach Tony Bennett on Farrakhan: "Part of who he is and what makes him good is that he does play with emotion." (Sabrina Schaeffer)
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But Mustapha said his family's notoriety never has come up in discussions with teammates and that his ancestry has not been an issue around campus during his stay at Virginia.

"I know that with my last name, there's not that many people with my last name, so people are going to know who I am or my background," Mustapha said. "But it doesn't feel any different. When people meet me, I'm still the same person that I always am. It just doesn't feel any different to me."

On the court, Farrakhan has undergone significant evolution in the past two years. Bennett's arrival precipitated a fresh start for all the players, and Farrakhan seized the opportunity. His playing time, while inconsistent, rose to 21 minutes per game last year, during which he had his last name tattooed across the back of his shoulder blades in block letters.

This season Farrakhan has averaged a team-high 30.5 minutes and 13.2 points per contest.

"He can go on runs offensively and get so excited," Bennett said. "Sometimes he'll battle his emotions and get discouraged or get off the track a little bit earlier, and I think he's improved in handling that. But part of who he is and what makes him good is that he does play with emotion. . . . When he has either a bad stretch or an off night, that's his greatest challenge, to overcome that and get back to it."

He'll have added incentive against N.C. State, as Louis Farrakhan plans to be in attendance Tuesday night to see his grandson play college basketball live for the first time.

Though he wishes his request to redshirt during his freshman year would have been granted so that he could extend his on-court maturation one more year, Farrakhan is grateful for how his college career has concluded.

"Coming from high school where you're out there on the floor and being able to play just to come and sit down and not being able to contribute at all or come in sparingly was very tough," Farrakhan said. "I would call my dad and say, 'Why me? Why would this happen to me?' And my dad would respond, 'Why not you? What makes you different than anybody else?' "

One night, the answer finally clicked.

"You know what, Dad?" Farrakhan said. "You're right."

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