De’Andre Hunter named Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year candidate

Story by Zach Pereles

De’Andre HunterUVA small forward De’Andre Hunter has been named one of the 10 candidates for the 2019 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced on Wednesday.

Named after Class of 1993 Hall of Famer and 16-year professional basketball player Julius Erving, the annual honor in its fifth year recognizes the top small forwards in Division I men’s college basketball. A national committee comprising top college basketball personnel determined the watch list of 20 candidates in October, which has now been narrowed to just 10.

Hunter, a sophomore, currently leads the Cavaliers in scoring at 14.7 points per game, and he ranks third in three-point percentage (43.2). Hunter is also shooting and impressive 52.9 percent from the floor overall and 77.5 percent from the free throw line. He was honored as the ACC Player of the Week for the week of Nov. 26 after helping lead Virginia to the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament title. He was also named the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament MVP. In the championship game against Wisconsin, Hunter poured in 20 point and added nine rebounds. He has been Virginia’s most consistent offensive weapon throughout the season.

From the official release:

“Julius Erving is well-known for his flare and competitive spirit which have made him one of the most admired and respected in the game across all generations,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “The Naismith Starting 5 committee aims to recognize the student-athlete whose game most closely mirrors Dr. J and we’re now one step closer by cutting our watch list to down to the highly anticipated top ten.”

Julius Erving attended the University of Massachusetts and averaged 26.3 points and 20.2 rebounds per game, making him one of only six NCAA men’s basketball players to average more than 20 points and 20 rebounds per game. After two seasons, Erving made the jump to the American Basketball Association and was the league’s most recognizable player when it merged with the National Basketball Association in 1976. During his professional career, Erving won three championships, four most valuable player awards and three scoring titles. In 1996, he was named a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.

In March, five finalists will be presented to Mr. Erving and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. The winner of the 2019 Julius Erving Award will be presented at The College Basketball Awards presented by Wendy’s in Los Angeles, CA on Friday, April 12, 2019, along with the other four members of the Naismith Starting 5. Additional awards being presented and receiving support from Eaton Ephesus Lighting include the Bob Cousy Point Guard Award, the Jerry West Shooting Guard Award, the Karl Malone Power Forward Award and the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center Award. Broadcast information will be released by ESPN at a later date.

Previous winners of the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award include Mikal Bridges, Villanova (2018), Josh Hart, Villanova (2017), Denzel Valentine, Michigan State (2016) and Stanley Johnson, Arizona (2015).



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