Virginia Basketball tips off their 2017-18 season in just 11 short days, so today, in honor of #11 (no, not THAT Eleven, shoutout Stranger Things), we are going to look at second year point guard Ty Jerome.
Now that the steady hand and tall hair of London Perrantes has graduated and moved onto the Cavaliers by means of a two-way contract, the keys to Virginia’s offense are in the capable hands of Jerome. At 6-5, 200, Jerome is much bigger of a point guard than Virginia fans are used to as a primary ball handler (for reference, Perrantes was listed at a generous 6’2”). He’s put on eight pounds since last season, and appears stronger physically. Jerome had hip surgery back in early 2016, causing him to miss most of his senior season at Iona Prep (New York).
Due to the double surgery, Jerome started last season a little slowly, but showed more of his abilities as the year went on. He played in all 34 games last season, starting four, and averaged 4.3 points per game and shot 47% from the field (40% from three) in just under 14 minutes per game.
He shone on the road at Notre Dame, scoring a then-season-high eight points in Virginia’s 71-54 win in South Bend. Jerome followed up that performance with an impressive 15 point (his career best so far) showing at #1 Villanova as he crossed up fools left and right in a brutal two point loss.
Jerome finished down the stretch with five double-digit performances in Virginia’s final 17 games and scored 76% of his points (112 of a total 147) in the second half of his first year campaign. He had a 1.6 assist to turnover ratio last season (not outstanding but not terrible), and added 15 steals. Primarily, Ty was learning from Perrantes, and he showed promise as the season progressed. His biggest weakness last season was on the defensive end, which is to be expected as players get used to the Pack Line, and he frequently found himself in some foul trouble (finished with five fouls per 40 minutes played, per KenPom). As Jerome continued to heal from his hip surgeries and built up to full speed, his defense improved, leading to more playing time.
This season, expect for Jerome to be Virginia’s primary ball handler. He’s got a lot of the same attributes as Perrantes in that he’s a solid shooter, good passer, and won’t get too sped up, but he’s more physical and therefore a little more versatile than LP. Jerome will take a defender one-on-one and has the size to finish at the rim. He will have support from fifth-year Devon Hall and graduate transfer Nigel Johnson, but he should be starting at the one for Bennett and the Hoos.
While Virginia has senior experience with players like Hall, Johnson, Isaiah Wilkins, and Jack Salt, the Hoos have a lot of younger players that will play a lot of minutes this season.
“We’re working hard everyday. I think we’re going to improve as the year goes on, hopefully.” Jerome said of this year’s Cavaliers at Virginia’s Media Day earlier this month. “That’s our biggest goal, to just improve everyday so that come February, March we’re playing and we’re at our best.”
The Hoos were picked to finish sixth in the ACC at Operation Basketball last week, and most likely won’t find themselves in the preseason AP Poll - potentially ending their 63-week streak. Despite “taking over the team”, Jerome doesn’t feel that he - or his fellow youngster teammates - have much pressure on them to uphold or maintain the recent success Virginia has had.
“I don’t think there’s much pressure.” Jerome stated. “We do a good job, our coaching staff leads us, directs us to do this where we don’t really pay much attention to the media, the outside world. We’re focused, we’re locked in to each other and getting better every day.”
His vocal nature on the court, coupled with support from team captains Hall, Wilkins, and Salt, has made Jerome more comfortable with his role within the team. That said, he’s apparently looked at the go-to-guy in big time situations.
“Ty makes big shots. Ty takes big shots,” Wilkins said of the second year on a podcast with Virginia Sports’ Jeff White.
Jerome sat out of Virginia’s Pepsi Blue-White Scrimmage due to a foot injury that had him in a walking boot, but Coach Bennett says they expect him to be ready for the season opener. Whether or not he starts and/or plays against UNC-Greensboro on November 10 is yet to be seen, but Jerome will be a crucial piece to Virginia’s success this season.