Devon Hall: The long, winding road to the NBA

devon hall uva basketballDevon Hall is case #1 for what UVA coach Tony Bennett can do for high-school recruits who aspire to play in the NBA.

Hall wasn’t on anybody’s NBA radar until maybe the latter stages of his redshirt junior season, and yes, there’s that word, redshirt.

Hall was a three-star high-school recruit at point guard who had the misfortune to come in with the same recruiting class that also included a point guard out of California by the name of London Perrantes, who went on to become a four-year starter for Bennett.

As it became clear in the fall of 2013 that Perrantes was going to earn minutes as a freshman, Bennett asked Hall to consider redshirting that year, and after initially saying he preferred to try to earn minutes, he agreed, on advice from assistant coach Jason Williford that he might benefit in the end from trading a relative few minutes in his first year for a chance to have a breakout fifth year.

But that was way, way, way down the road, and it turned out to be a winding road for Hall, who only played 10.6 minutes a game as a redshirt freshman in 2014-2015, upping that to 21.9 minutes a game as a sophomore and then 27.4 minutes per game in his junior season.

Hall famously graduated in three years, which would have made him eligible to leave as a graduate transfer before that redshirt junior season, and take two years of eligibility wherever he’d end up, and there were rumors and rampant speculation that he might end up going that route.

But as he did when initially presented with the option as a first-year player, Hall opted to try to earn his minutes under Bennett, and the move paid off.

As a redshirt junior in 2016-2017, Hall averaged a career-high 8.4 points a game, shooting 40.8 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from three-point range.

His senior season was lights-out for a Virginia team that finished 31-3 and won the ACC regular-season and tournament titles. Hall averaged 11.7 points per game, shot 45.4 percent from the field and connected on 43.2 percent of his shots from three-point range in 32.1 minutes per game.

Hall also revealed himself to be something of a shutdown perimeter defender, earning All-ACC Defensive Team honors in 2018.

Reading through the various draft analyses, the issues that dogged Hall out of high school – a perceived lack of raw athletic ability, particularly quickness, and questions about his ability to get to the basket from the perimeter – continue to come up.

That all said, it’s looking more and more like Hall is going to hear his named called in the 2018 NBA Draft, but if that doesn’t end up being the case, don’t count Hall out. There’s still summer league, and a chance at a fall camp invite, and if that’s what it takes, expect Hall to make the most of his chance and join Bennett’s alums in the Association.

Column by Chris Graham

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