As we’re now 12 days (!!!) away from Virginia’s basketball season tipping off, we’ll take a look at one of the most interesting additions to the Cavalier rotation in 2017, redshirt freshman #12 De’Andre Hunter.
When Hunter committed to Virginia in September of 2015, he was the lowest rated member of the Cavalier’s 2016 class as a 4-star and 91st ranked player in the class – as Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and Jay Huff were all top 60 recruits. Nonetheless, Hunter was the comparatively overlooked.
Coming out of high school Hunter was listed as a 6-7, 180 pound combo guard. Now, thanks to his time in the weight room, he is still 6-7 but has added 42 pounds of muscle to get to 222 pounds. I’m no math whiz but putting on bulk like that while continuing to develop a jump shot, dribble moves and study the Pack Line defense seems like a recipe for a breakout year.
When Marial Shayok and Darius Thompson transferred away from Charlottesville this offseason it triggered great speculation as to what their reasoning might be. One of the first possible factors mentioned was De’Andre Hunter showing his massive potential. The speculation continued to increase and optimism about the youngster’s prowess spread rampantly throughout the summer thanks to some snazzy training videos – notably a one on one session with other Philly basketball product, Rasheed Wallace.
When asked about what part of his game needed the most work, Hunter responded, “Definitely my defense.” However, following the Blue and White scrimmage last weekend, it appears the most unsettled part of Hunter’s game is his shot and ball security at times. Luckily for De’Andre and UVA fans alike, it was a scrimmage, it was the redshirt-freshman’s first appearance on the JPJ court in front of a decent sized crowd.
While worries can be made from the 30 odd minutes of inter-squad scrimmage time Hunter has seen, questions can also be answered. Hunter came to UVA as a combo guard, more than likely to fill Devon Hall’s role of steady defender, being emotionally unwavering, and avcompetent scorer.
Hunter is definitely going to play more at the three than the four, something he mentioned at the UVA team media day saying, “I practiced at the four and I really liked it.” During the scrimmage Hunter played a chunk of the third period at the four and performed well against the springy and aggressive Mamadi Diakite. If Hunter can hold his own against an athlete like Diakite, it shouldn’t be surprising to fans to see De’Andre checking into games at the four to give the Cavaliers more positional flexibility on both ends of the court.
The Virginia basketball season will hinge heavily on the production that comes from De’Andre Hunter and fellow redshirt Jay Huff. So far, so good.
ACC Rookie of the Year: TBD