Some teams get to the Final Four with an abundance of talent. Various recent Kentucky teams come to mind. Others coagulate with a nucleus of experienced players that probably won’t have long NBA futures. This year’s Michigan State squad comes to mind.
Virginia is a different beast. Head coach Tony Bennett has the Cavaliers on the doorstep of the program’s first national championship, as he’s masterfully drilled his defense in his trademark pack-line scheme. Virginia also boasts the No. 3 efficiency offense (per Ken Pomeroy) behind the efforts of 3 potential NBA Draft picks.
Forward De’Andre Hunter and guards Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy are the brightest stars for a Cavaliers team that faces Texas Tech Monday night in the title game (9:20 p.m. EST, CBS). All three score in double figures on average.
Before diving into that game, let’s look at their draft stock entering the final day of the college basketball season.
De’Andre Hunter NBA Draft Projections & Mocks
Hunter is the highest-regarded prospect on the team. Hoops Hype, which aggregates 5 of the more prominent mock drafts, ranks the 6-foot-8, 225-pounder as the No.5 pick. SI.com is the least optimistic, placing him at No. 9.
To an extent, I think people are overthinking things with Hunter, which is why I have him fourth overall on my board. There just aren’t many players like him in the NBA. He might not be a superstar at that next level, but few are — and even fewer of those types exist in the 2019 Draft. Give me the guy with a lot of positional value in addition to value on both ends of the floor, and I’m coming away happy on draft night.
NBA Draft Net’s Aran Smith ranks him No. 6 in his top-100 rankings, but has him going No. 8 to the Washington Wizards.
Ty Jerome NBA Draft Projections & Mocks
Jerome did a lot for his stock by tallying 21 points versus Auburn in the national semifinal Saturday. It has people like Forbes’ Adam Zagoria thinking he could be shooting up draft boards a la Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo last year.
A junior, Jerome is currently projected as the No. 28 pick in this year’s NBA Draft by ESPN.com. He went for 21 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 turnovers in Virginia’s thrilling 63-62 win over Auburn in the national semifinals, and he has another chance to shine on Monday night.
“He’s definitely helping himself and, hey, he’s on the big stage Monday night,” one NBA scout said. “You saw what it did for DiVincenzo, right?”
A year ago, of course, Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo spring-boarded himself into the first round of the draft when he poured in 31 points off the bench en route to Most Outstanding Player honors as Villanova beat Michigan in the title game.
Hoops Hype has him averaging out at No. 28, just inside the first round. Smith sees Jerome as the No. 26 pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Kyle Guy NBA Draft Projections & Mocks
Guy is the most talked about…guy on the team after he buried all 3 free throws in the final seconds to top the Tigers in the Final Four. What does that mean for his draft stock?
Hoops Hype doesn’t even list him on any of the 5 mocks, while Smith sees Guy going undrafted. He does appear on Smith’s top-100 list as the No. 69 overall prospect.
This likely means that he’s a 2020 prospect. Specifically, NBA Draft Room has the Virginia guard as the No. 42 pick next year. This places him ahead of the likes of Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (No. 43), LSU’s Tremont Waters (48) and Creighton’s Ty-Shon Alexander (54).
Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation shares this sentiment, saying he should return for another season to improve defensively.
Guy has a great pedigree as a former McDonald’s All-American and a three-year contributor at one of the most successful programs in the country. The biggest issue he has to overcome is his size at 6’2, 175 pounds. He’s going to be a defensive liability in almost any NBA matchup. Offensively, he’ll struggle to finish over pro length at the basket. Most players with his size have to be elite facilitators to make it as a point guard, but Guy is more of an off-guard thanks to his knockdown shooting ability.
He’s likely to return for his senior year, but he’ll get a look from NBA teams whenever he decides to come out if he keeps shooting like this.
He does lead the Cavaliers in scoring with 15.2 points per game. His recent publicity may serve as a launching point for next season.