National title, NBA Draft: ‘Doesn’t feel real’ to Ty Jerome
So it wasn’t a homecoming, technically, when he was back Friday night for the ceremony at John Paul Jones Arena to raise the banner marking the UVA Basketball program’s run to the 2019 national championship.
It was a chance for Jerome to reconnect with players and coaches that he misses being around every day.
“We were so united as a team, on and off the court last year. It will be tough to ever find that again,” said Jerome, whose play at point guard was key to the ‘Hoos run to the national title, averaging 16.5 points and 6.0 assists in the NCAA Tournament, including 16 points and eight assists in the national-title game win over Texas Tech.
Jerome conceded that it really hasn’t sunk in, what happened last March and April, and what has happened since, with the NBA Draft, and his preparations for his first NBA training camp coming up in a couple of weeks.
“It’s tough to sit back and think about how far you’ve actually come,” Jerome said. “Winning a national championship was something I’d dreamed about since I was a little kid, but then I’m constantly trying to get better, and focus on the NBA, and so I really haven’t had time to think about it, reflect on it.
“Whenever I watch a video or see a tweet, or somebody sends me something, it doesn’t feel real,” Jerome said. “I don’t think it’s ever going to actually feel real. It’s something I dreamed about since I was a little kid. To actually accomplish it, with the group of guys that we had, I don’t think it’s ever going to feel real.”
How fast life can move: this time last year, Jerome and teammate De’Andre Hunter, the #4 pick in the 2019 draft, vowed not to play NBA2K19, agreeing that they wouldn’t play the popular NBA video game “until we’re in the game.”
“And now we’re both in the game,” Jerome said, before admitting that he has played as himself in the game, though the likeness, he conceded, is a bit off.
“No, I’m dunking and everything,” he said, with a smile.
Asked by a reporter to assess the 2019-2020 UVA team’s prospects, considering the losses of the program’s three stars to the NBA, Jerome was quick to assert that he “can’t ever see this program not being successful.”
“My first year, we had a quote-unquote ‘down year,’ and we were a five seed in the tournament. A lot of programs don’t get to the five seed. A lot of classes don’t get to the five seed,” Jerome said of the 2016-2017 UVA team that won 23 games.
“The way we work, the way the coaching staff pours into the players, the way they preach that you have to have it, or you just won’t last here. With those pillars, with the way this program is run, I can’t see this program not being successful,” Jerome said.
Story by Chris Graham
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