Chris Graham: Breaking down Ty Jerome’s NBA draft prospects

ty jerome uva basketballMy first thinking on Ty Jerome and 2019-2020 was that he’d put his name into the NBA Draft pool, hire an agent or not, but basically just test the waters and most likely return for his senior season.

It started to become clear on Saturday, during the national championship celebration at Scott Stadium,  when the crowd chanted “One more year!” and Jerome smiled and said nothing, where his head was.

Then, you watch the professionally-done video that he posted to Instagram this morning, in which he said he will be foregoing his senior season, and, yeah.

And you know what? He should go.

My thinking on this had been, I’m not seeing Jerome’s name as a first-rounder in the various mock drafts that I’ve been looking at the past couple of months, and then the past few days.

I’ve seen him as high as 20th in the first round, and as low as the late 40s in the second round.

My thinking: if you’re not guaranteed to be a first-rounder, why go?

Second-round picks don’t get guaranteed contracts, for one.

Sure, Malcolm Brogdon and Joe Harris were second-rounders, and they’re doing OK.

But Devon Hall was also a second-rounder. He played this past season in Australia and the G-League.

It’s one thing if you’re Justin Anderson, and you know you’re going to go in the first round.

De’Andre Hunter is going to be a lottery pick. If he doesn’t declare, we need to start a petition on Change.org to make him.

But Jerome, enhhh. You’re not first round guaranteed, you’re risking giving up one more year against top-flight talent on a national stage to play in some basketball backwater against a bunch of guys from mid-majors who haven’t yet come to grips with reality that a career in the NBA is not in the cards for them.

But now that he’s going, I’m seeing the other side of this for Jerome.

He’s banking on himself, which is what we all should do in life, so, good for him.

His stock is never going to be higher than it is right now. He averaged 16.5 points and 6.0 assists in the NCAA Tournament, just had 16 points and eight assists in the national-title game.

I had him as Virginia’s MVP in the tourney, even as Kyle Guy was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, and Hunter was the man in the title game.

The counting numbers are in his favor. The intangibles – Jerome was undoubtedly the heart and soul of a championship team – also very much in his favor.

From a scouting standpoint, Jerome is 6’5”, and you can’t teach 6’5” for a guy with point-guard skills.

He’s never going to be the quickest, most athletic point guard, and that’s a concern for me for Jerome playing at the next level, but then, it’s not like he didn’t face quick, athletic point guards playing at Virginia in the ACC, and he obviously had success, to get to where he and his team got to.

My eyes tell me that Jerome gets into the lane, and actually, it’s more than my eyes. His ability to get into the lane is what drew two Texas Tech defenders on the assist to Hunter for the game-tying three in the title game.

The stats don’t necessarily bear out what my eyes tell me. According to Hoop-Math.com, only 18.8 percent of Jerome’s shots in 2018-2019 were at the rim.

For comparison to other top point guards in the 2019 draft:

  • Ja Morant (Murray State): 53.1 percent
  • Cassius Winston (Michigan State): 30.9 percent
  • Chris Clemons (Campbell): 29.2 percent
  • Darius Garland (Vanderbilt): 27.8 percent
  • Ky Bowman (Boston College): 27.8 percent
  • Jaylen Nowell (Washington): 27.4 percent
  • Carsen Edwards (Purdue): 27.2 percent
  • Coby White (North Carolina): 22.5 percent
  • Makai Mason (Baylor): 13.9 percent

How much of this is a function of the Virginia offensive approach and how much is the perceived issue with quickness and athleticism that may rear its head the next couple of months as he goes through pre-draft workouts.

Again, back to his height, at 6’5”, being able to see over top of other point guards can make up for some of those perceived issues with quickness and athleticism.

Thinking of a comparison point guard currently in the NBA, I keep coming back to Shaun Livingston, the backup to Steph Curry at Golden State, who at 6’7” has made a long career (15 years and counting) out of being able to see over opposing point guards.

The more I think about that Shaun Livingston comparison, the more I think we’re going to hear Jerome’s name called toward the end of the first round, when, hey, Golden State might be looking for the next Shaun Livingston, will be among those on the clock.

Jerome will have a long, productive career in the NBA wherever he ends up, is the bottom line here.

Column by Chris Graham



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