Cavaliers' preseason rafting trip comes full circle in Minneapolis

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MINNEAPOLIS (WDBJ) -- It was an experience that scarred Cavaliers forward De'Andre Hunter.

Photo courtesy: @UVAMensHoops

"I was very happy when it was over," he said. "I was just happy I was alive."

OK, so maybe Virginia's preseason whitewater rafting trip didn't actually put Hunter's life in danger.

But it was a bonding adventure that head coach Tony Bennett said has stuck with him.

"It was ironic," Bennett said. "You know, when we got here to Minneapolis, they gave us a paddle when we got off the plane, and it said, 'The Road Ends Here.'

"I remember floating down the river, and you're just going. And I remember saying to myself, 'Okay. All right, Lord. What's this year going to bring? I wonder.'

"I remember just like it was the most beautiful setting just floating down the river with these guys, and I remember saying that in my mind. And I relay that to them before the Purdue game, and I said -- and I actually got a little emotional with them. I said, 'Here we are.'

"This was on the verge of the Elite Eight game. I'm floating on that river. What's this year going to bring? Because it's a significant year I thought that. I was thinking, 'Wow, here I am.'

"And then interesting we come to Minneapolis, and the first thing they give us are these paddles or oars that say, 'The Road Ends Here.' So it was kind of a significant or poignant moment for me."