As expected, Virginia guards Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter will forgo their final seasons of eligibility in Charlottesville and enter the NBA draft. Jerome and Hunter, who helped the Cavaliers to their first men’s basketball national title last week, announced Monday on Instagram that they will sign with agents and pursue their lifelong dreams of playing at the highest level.
“This program was everything I possibly could have dreamed of,” Jerome, a junior from New Rochelle, N.Y., said in his Instagram story. “Playing for Coach [Tony] Bennett every day, playing for this staff, playing with these teammates and for these fans has been a dream come true. I wouldn’t change one thing. U-Va. has been a home for me for the last three years. This has been the best basketball experience of my entire life.”
The 6-foot-5, 195-pound Jerome, a projected late first-round pick, averaged 13.6 points, 5.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds for the Cavaliers this season. He had 16 points, eight assists and six rebounds in Virginia’s 85-77 overtime win against Texas Tech in the title game after scoring 21 points in the Cavaliers’ semifinal win over Auburn. Jerome helped his draft stock throughout the tournament by averaging team highs of 16.5 points and six assists. During a conversation with The Post at the Final Four, Jerome’s father, Mark, all but confirmed his son wouldn’t return for his senior year.
“Since I was a little kid, I always dreamed about playing in the NBA,” Jerome said Monday. “The only reason I’m in this position today is because Coach Bennett and my teammates. They prepared me to get to this point . . . I will always be a Wahoo.”
Jerome was the first of Virginia’s underclassmen to declare for the draft. A few hours later, Hunter, a projected lottery pick, followed suit.
“My last three years at U-Va. have been magical,” the sophomore from Philadelphia said in his Instagram story. “The community has really brought me in. You embraced me as a student and as a member of the community. Playing with this team has been amazing.”
Hunter averaged 15.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for the Cavaliers and scored a game-high 27 points in the national championship game. While most expected Hunter and Jerome to head to the NBA, the future of junior guard Kyle Guy, who led the Cavaliers in scoring, is still unclear.
“Those decisions will all come with the right information,” Bennett said Saturday after Virginia celebrated its title with a ceremony at Scott Stadium. “We always want what’s best for our guys, and what this group of young men has brought to me, to our staff, to our university, to this community, we’ll all be forever grateful for them, and we just want what’s best.”
During an interview with Sports Illustrated shortly after announcing his own decision, Jerome hinted that Hunter would confirm his intent to enter the NBA draft soon. When asked to predict the best NBA rookie from the ACC next season, Jerome paused before naming Hunter.
Gene Wang contributed to this report.
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