De’Andre Hunter’s big year has a chance to get monumentally bigger Monday night. His Virginia Cavaliers have a chance to take home the program’s first national championship with a win over Texas Tech in Minneapolis (9:20 p.m. EST, CBS).
In last year’s tournament, the No. 1 seeded Wahoos infamously lost to No. 16 Maryland-Baltimore County for the first-ever loss to a 16-seed in NCAA Tournament history. De’Andre Hunter sat with a broken wrist that required surgery, leaving Virginia without his scoring touch nor his length defending on the perimeter.
He came back to Charlottesville this season, scoring 14.9 points per game (2nd on the team). The 6-foot-7, 225-pound guard now is mentioned as a potential top-5 pick in this summer’s NBA Draft by several outlets.
What led the sophomore to Virginia in the first place? Let’s take a look at his high school days.
De’Andre Hunter High School and Recruitment
Hunter attended Friend’s Central School, a private Quaker in the west Philadelphia suburbs. It holds about 800 students and about 90 faculty. In the sports world, the next most famous alumnus would be former NBA players Mustapha Shakur and Hakim Warrick.
In addition, Scarface and The Untouchables director Brian de Palma went there.
As a junior, he averaged 21.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assist per game, while being named Pennsylvania Class AA Player of the Year. As a senior in 2016, Hunter averaged 23.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.0 assist and 2.5 blocks per game. According to his Virginia bio, he was also a finalist for the Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year.
This production led to a 4-star ranking per 247 Sports. He ranked as the No. 106 player nationally, No. 16 shooting guard and No. 3 player in the state behind Penn State commits Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens.
He fielded offers from the likes of Villanova and Maryland, but chose the Cavaliers due to strength and conditioning coach Mike Curtis. Per Sam Blum of Cavs Insider:
Part of Hunter’s development is in his weight/muscle gain.
“He’s so much stronger [now],” Tozer said. “It looks like he’s put on about 20 pounds since his senior year of high school. It looks like he’s playing great defensively.”
It’s this frame and versatile skill set that projects him to cash a big paycheck at the pro level next season. According to ESPN, he ranks as the No. 2 power forward prospect and No. 6 player on its draft board. Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony provides the scouting report.
Has prototypical physical tools for a modern-day NBA forward. Very similar measurements to the likes of OG Anunoby, Danny Granger and Rudy Gay.
– One of the most versatile defenders in the college game. Length, strength and terrific feet helped him switch seamlessly onto big men such as Marvin Bagley II or wings such as Josh Okogie as a key cog for Virginia, the best defensive team in the country last season.
His high school team’s nickname was the Phoenix. After last year’s disappointing end to UMBC, Hunter could help lift Virginia from the ashes of last March into championship glory Monday night.