Frasor's Final Chapter

DETROIT – When Bobby Frasor ran out onto the Ford Field court prior to Saturday's Final Four matchup with Villanova, it was nearly impossible to miss the huge smile plastered on his face. After four years of peaks and valleys, the Tar Heel senior is hoping to close out his career on the highest of notes.

The Blue Island, Ill. product's freshman season at North Carolina served up nothing but positive revelations about what Frasor could do long-term for Roy Williams' program. A high school basketball coach's son, the McDonald's All-American started 31 games and averaged 6.4 points and 4.4 assists in directing UNC to an unexpected 23-8 (12-4 ACC) record while being named to the ACC All-Freshman team.

But the highs of that initial campaign were counterbalanced with the lows of his injury-filled sophomore and junior seasons. In December of 2006, a foot injury removed him from the starting lineup and forced him to miss 10 games. Nearly 12 months later, in a game against Nevada on Dec. 27, 2007, Frasor's left knee buckled while attempting to steal a pass.

The injury this time was his anterior cruciate ligament, requiring surgery three weeks later and sidelining him for the remainder of the season, which included the 2008 Final Four. Frasor describes watching last April's loss to Kansas in San Antonio as "easily" the hardest thing that he's endured in his life.

It's now one year and a day since that much-criticized collapse, but this time around, Frasor can actually make a difference on the court of play, instead of being relegated to the bench.

"It's a huge relief," Frasor said. "You dream of playing in a Final Four, and then your team is there, but you're not playing. It's kind of like, ‘Am I going to get another shot at this?' So to be back playing and being a part of this team and contributing any way I can is special to me."

The road back to the Final Four has not been an easy one for the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder. Working through the pair of injuries was difficult enough, but enduring the disappointment of not just one, but three, denials by the NCAA while attempting to secure a fifth-year of eligibility lingered throughout his senior season until the final verdict was announced in mid-February.

For Frasor, the luxury of having his parents close by has provided an additional measure of support. Bob Frasor, Sr. determined last summer that he wanted to travel to as many games as he possibly could during his son's senior season. Being a retired school teacher and coach, his ability to move to Chapel Hill was easy. His wife Donna, however, was granted a three-month leave of absence from her teaching position to join her husband in following Bobby's final days as a Tar Heel.

"It's been great to be able to go get a home-cooked meal [and] go hang out at their house if I want to get away or study," Frasor said. "Just to have them to lean on at times has been huge. It's been a lot of fun."

Dealing with all of their child's adversity has been difficult, but living within the same town limits has bridged the gap that telephones cannot.

"That's part of the job as a parent," Frasor Sr. said. "One thing that I do regret is that we were at home watching the [Nevada] game on TV when he tore his ACL, and that is quite an experience. When he went down and then called us probably five minutes later, you could hear the tears and feel the tears in his eyes in telling us that he tore his ACL. That's just gut wrenching not being there with him."

Despite Frasor's return to the court this season, Williams expressed concern on several occasions about the difficulty his senior guard was having in regaining his pre-injury strength. His quickness had diminished and his shots simply weren't falling.

But he worked his way into the rotation with a heady resolve and a dedication on the defensive end of the court, evidenced by 21 team defensive player of the game distinctions. And along the way, glimpses of that old shooting ability crept back into view.

With the Tar Heel offense struggling in the first half of a pivotal midseason game at Duke, Frasor knocked down three 3-pointers to keep his teammates afloat until the cavalry arrived after intermission. He was effective in subbing for Ty Lawson during the ACC Tournament, playing 70 minutes in two games at point, but his senior highlight reel didn't truly kick in until the NCAA Tournament.

In the Sweet Sixteen against Gonzaga, the Bulldogs cut UNC's 21-point lead to 11 with a furious second-half rally. When North Carolina emerged from a timeout, Frasor calmly drilled back-to-back 3-pointers that cemented an Elite Eight appearance.

And on Saturday night, with Villanova controlling the boards and threatening to make the game closer than the Tar Heels wanted, he assisted his big men with a career-high seven rebounds, including five on the offensive glass.

To win a national championship, it's about doing what it takes to win and not worrying about the publicity that comes along with last-second shots and double-doubles. Frasor's ability to fill in the gaps in this NCAA Tournament has been crucial for North Carolina's run to the national championship game.

In a career of ups and downs, a steady hand in the end may be what eventually defines Bobby Frasor.

"It's been a bumpy ride to say the least, but some of my best memories will be from my freshman year when I started every game," Frasor said. "And then I had the foot injury in my sophomore year and the knee injury my junior year, [which] wasn't ideal, but I don't regret my decision at all to come to Carolina. It's been the best four years of my life."

His father echoed those sentiments on Sunday, summing up his son's career in a way only a father can do.

"For Mom and Dad, it's been an enjoyable, enjoyable four years," Frasor Sr. said. "I know Bobby would have loved to have been at full strength for four years, and we would have loved to have him at full strength, but the things that have already happened, we can't do anything about. Fortunately, we're in the championship game [tonight], so what more could you ask for?"

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