One week ago, De’Andre Hunter put together one of the best postseason performances in program history and helped the Virginia basketball team secure the National Championship in the process. This Monday, the Cavalier standout made the next expected move by entering his name in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Hunter joined a teammate with the draft announcement as Ty Jerome made the same decision public earlier in the day. Players have until April 21 to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft. Junior guard Kyle Guy and redshirt junior forward Mamadi Diakite could declare and test the evaluation waters before making a decision.
“Being at the University of Virginia has been an amazing experience,” Hunter wrote as part of the following Instagram post. “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.”
Here is Hunter’s full announcement via his Instagram account:
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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! 李
After redshirting during his first year with the program, Hunter considered declaring at the end of a strong freshman season at UVA before a late-season wrist injury and the team’s subsequent loss in the NCAA Tournament played a part in his return. As a freshman, Hunter averaged 9.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.1 assists en route to ACC Sixth Man Of the Year and All-ACC Freshman team honors.
As a sophomore, he improved on those numbers across the board and even loftier praise followed. Hunter started all 38 games this season as Virginia won the National Championship and shared the ACC Regular Season Championship. He averaged 15.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.97 assists, while also consistently providing defense on some of the nation’s best players.
Hunter earned recognition as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division I Defensive Player of the Year. He was named first-team All-ACC, a second-team NABC All-American, a third-team Associated Press All-American, a third-team U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-American, and a third-team Sporting News All-American.
In addition to the averages and accolades, Hunter hit 43.8% of his 3-pointers on the season and boasts a 7’2” wing span. In other words, at 6’7” he possesses things that pro scouts and NBA Teams covet. So it’s no surprise that Hunter is listed as a lottery pick (top 14) in essentially any mock draft you can find on the NBA. He’s likely to land somewhere inside the top 10. Gary Parrish at CBS Sports, for example, listed Hunter as the fifth overall pick in his most recent projections.
New rules in place allow for Hunter to return to school even though he has signed with an agent, but that’s extremely unlikely. After all, he finished his career with 27 points on 8-of-16 shooting in the National Championship Game while also helping contain fellow projected lottery pick Jarrett Culver to 15 points on 5-of-22 shooting for Texas Tech. He’s leaving UVA as a National Champion and likely will be the highest Tony Bennett draft pick to date.
“De’Andre, he was just named Defensive Player of the Year, and his ability to lock in and slide is as good as most, and I thought that was a great two-way performance, defensively and offensively, in this game and this setting, and he saved his best for last,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said after the title win. “That tells you there’s something in that young man. He’s got more – he’s scratching the surface.”