Whether or not Ty Jerome would play as a true freshman last season was a question, as he was coming off double-hip surgery performed in February of 2016. The 6’5” point guard not only played, but he turned in a solid first collegiate season with some memorable moments, notably top performances against Notre Dame and Villanova on the road.
Jerome’s quality road performances continued in Virginia’s 76-67 win over VCU. The sophomore scored 13 points (5-10 shooting including 3-6 from 3-point range), dished out a career-high 7 assists and committed 0 turnovers in a career-high 34 minutes. The 34 minutes played is a great sign as Jerome missed significant preseason practice time with a foot injury.
Jerome came through with a clutch 3-pointer with less than two minutes remaining to help Virginia stave off a Rams charge. Check it out here …
Wow. From WAY downtown.
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) November 17, 2017
I spoke with Jerome following UVA’s road victory over the Rams for a Sabre Quick Take.
Sabre Associate Editor Chris Horne: VCU kept coming back and coming back, keeping the pressure on. How do you keep your poise throughout a game like this, in an atmosphere like this?
Jerome: All summer and all fall and all the work we put in, it’s for game’s like this. Every athlete wants to be in a game like this and have an atmosphere like this. We like when the student section’s going crazy. It’s definitely tough. They have a great home court advantage, but I think we feed off that, too.
Sabre Associate Editor Chris Horne: Your 3-pointer with 1:33 remaining put the team up 71-64. Earlier in the half you had some open 3s that just missed. What was your mindset just before taking that near half-courter?
Jerome: Honestly, I don’t think. If it’s a good shot I’m going to keep shooting no matter what. I think it’s something that, if it’s a good shot, my coaches will be comfortable with me shooting it. My team will be comfortable with me shooting it. They trust me to make open shots and that’s what I have to keep doing.
Sabre Associate Editor Chris Horne: That 3 was obviously key. Last season there was the Villanova game, where you came through with a clutch bucket late to tie the game. You seem comfortable having the ball in late-game key situations. Where does that poise come from?
Jerome: I think it’s something my dad definitely instilled in me at a young age. Trying to have that killer instinct where when the game gets late I’m going to step up. Not necessarily shoot it, just make the right play. I think a lot of the time it’s just about making the right play.
Sabre Associate Editor Chris Horne: How did your dad help instill it?
Jerome: Honestly, it’s just confidence. My dad, he coached me when I was younger. If I missed my first 10 shots, if I didn’t shoot the next one, he was going to yell at me. As the game got late he always put the ball in my hands. It’s just confidence in the moment every athlete hopes for – the end of the game. I love that.
Sabre Associate Editor Chris Horne: What can you say about Kyle Guy’s performance and his aggressive mindset this season?
Jerome: He’s one of the best scorers in the country. The way he shot the ball, I mean, he better stay aggressive or we’ll get mad at him (laughs). He was unbelievable.
Sabre Associate Editor Chris Horne: How is your foot injury? What impact has the missed practices had on your conditioning to start this year?
Jerome: It’s getting better. I’m still a little out of shape, but it’s definitely getting better. Now my foot’s tolerable at least. Now that’s it’s tolerable I’m just going to keep pushing, keep treating every day. So, it’s getting better.
Sabre Associate Editor Chris Horne: Finally, Nigel Johnson (6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal) also played well. What do you have to say about his contributions and what he brings to the team?
Jerome: He’s awesome. I told him after the game, ‘Way to be ready,’ because he came in, beat the press and threw an alley-oop to Jay. And then he came in late in the game and got it to Zay (Isaiah Wilkins). When he stays ready, he’s got another dimension we don’t have with his quickness, his ability to score the ball. His shot’s going to fall, too. He’s been really good for us.