Hunter, Jerome Headed To The NBA

By Jerry Ratcliffe

De’Andre Hunter backs down a Coppin State defender in November at John Paul Jones Arena. (Photo by Jon Golden)

As expected, a pair of underclassmen that helped lead Virginia to its first national championship in school history, both declared Monday that they will forgo their remaining eligibility and enter their names in June’s NBA draft.

Junior point guard Ty Jerome and redshirt sophomore De’Andre Hunter, best friends throughout their UVA career, said they will sign with an agent.

“De’Andre and Ty leave Virginia with tremendous legacies,” Coach Tony Bennett said. “They were outstanding players and role models, and I’m so proud of the men they have become. We won a lot of games and championships with De’Andre and Ty, and they are ready to realize their life-long dreams of playing in the NBA.”

The duo were key figures in the Cavaliers posting a 35-3 record and the program’s first national title last week. Over the past two seasons, they’ve helped UVA compile a 66-6 record, including back-to-back ACC regular-season titles and last year’s ACC Tournament championship.

Hunter was selected as National Defensive Player of the Year, a distinction he was also awarded in the ACC. He was a consensus second-team All-American, All-ACC first-teamer. Hunter averaged 15.2 points and 5.1 rebounds. He was a 52-percent shooter from the field, 43.8 from beyond the 3-point arc, and 78.3 from the foul line.

The redshirt sophomore also recorded 10 20-point games, including a career-high 27 points in the national title game against Texas Tech, in a dominating second-half performance.

Jerome, a New Rochelle, N.Y., native and a product of Iona Prep, was the first of the National Championship Cavaliers to announce the early entry into the professional ranks, and was followed hours later by Hunter, a native of Philadelphia native.

What remains in question is what junior guard Kyle Guy, “Most Outstanding Player” of the Final Four, might do. Will he jump to the NBA or return for a final season.

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft is April 21. However, due to a new NCAA rule, players who do elect to declare early have until May 29 to withdraw from the draft and retain their college eligibility. Both Hunter, a projected lottery pick, and Jerome, who is predicted to go somewhere between No. 20 and No. 35 in the selections, intend to remain in the draft.

The new rule also allows players to hire an agent without forfeiting their college eligibility. In the past, any player hiring an agent could not return to college.

Jerome is the 94th, and Hunter, the 95th collegiate underclassmen to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft, which will be held June 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Jerome finished UVA’s championship season with a 13.6 scoring average per game and posted 1,011 points in three seasons. He also finished third on the Cavaliers’ single-season assists list with 202.

The New Yorker is a tough, physically and mentally, player that can play point or shooting guard. At 6-foot-5, he has the size. He also isn’t afraid of the big moment, often taking NBA-length 3-pointers (or beyond NBA range, i.e. at Syracuse late in the season). Jerome shot 43 percent from beyond the arc this season.

Michael Wilbon of “Pardon the Interruption” television show, said Monday evening that Jerome was his favorite player to watch this season because “he knows how to play the game,” and predicted a 10-year career for Jerome.

Jerome thanked Bennett and the entire staff of coaches, trainers, and fans upon his announcement (See and listen to the entire announcement below), before saying, “I will forever be a Wahoo. Love UVA from the bottom of my heart.”

Hunter shared similar sentiments about the Virginia program, fans, coaches, and his future.

“I have been dreaming about this moment for a long time and I’m excited to enter my name into the NBA Draft,” Hunter said. “My last three years at UVA have been magical, and playing with this team has been amazing. I want to thank Coach Bennett, my family and teammates for this opportunity. Ending my collegiate career as a national champion means the world to me.”

 

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The last three years at Virginia have been everything I could have dreamed of in a college experience. When Coach Bennett recruited me he said he would never stop challenging me to improve, on and off the court – and he meant it. He did that every single day, and he made me a better basketball player and better man. I am eternally grateful to him and the entire coaching staff, and fans. I also want to give a special thank you to our strength coach, coach Curtis and our athletic trainer, Ethan Saliba; the best in the business! I came to Virginia to win a national championship and to be able to do that with my brothers is a dream come true. And to the best fans in college basketball – we would not have done it without you. Last but certainly not least, I want to thank my mom, dad, brother and entire family. The time, effort and love they have given me is truly a gift, and I would not have had this opportunity without them. I have had a ball in my hand basically since the day I was born. My dream has always been to play in the NBA. Therefore, after speaking with my family and coaches and giving it a lot of thought, I know it’s the right time to announce that I will be entering the NBA draft and signing with an agent. I will forever be a wahoo🧡 UVA, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

A post shared by Ty Jerome (@tyjerome_) on

 

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Being at the University of Virginia has been an amazing experience. From being a redshirt to winning a national championship, the journey has been unbelievable. I want to say thank you to Coach Bennett and the coaching staff for challenging me everyday to become not only a better basketball player but a better man off the court. I am forever grateful for them. Winning a national championship has always been a dream of mine and accomplishing that with this team is something I will never forget. Thank you to all the fans for your tremendous support. You guys will always be in my heart. My family has always been my backbone. I could never thank them enough for all of the work they have done for me. My mom, brother, and two sisters have always been there for me and without them I would not be the man I am today. I want to Thank God for blessing me with this unique opportunity. Playing NBA was always a lifelong dream, with that being said I would like to announce that I will be entering the NBA draft and signing an agent. UVA will always be a special place to me. Wahoowa! 🧡💙

A post shared by De’Andre Hunter (@drehunter_) on



Comments

  1. Jack Oakes says:

    Wish them both the greatest of success at the next level, joining the others who laid the foundation for UVa success!

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