Evaluating Ty Jerome, De’Andre Hunter, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker

January 16, 2019

by Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to take the time to watch Virginia play against Virginia Tech in an ACC basketball game that was played on January 15th.  The Virginia Tech Hokies had been surprisingly winning lots of games this year, as they are led by first round prospect Nickeil Alexander-Walker, but they were no match for Virginia, as the Virginia Cavaliers’ shooting and terrific passing were too much for them.  Virginia won handily, and Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter both played very well.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared, as well how their games may translate to the NBA.

Virginia’s 6-5 junior guard, Ty Jerome had a terrific showing in his team’s lopsided win over Virginia Tech.  He really excelled as a shooter and facilitator on the court, and he also helped get some rebounds when he was on the court.  Jerome did a great job of knocking down threes to space the floor for his team on offense.  He has a lot of range on his shot, as he would make deep threes from way out, and he even dribbled back to do so early on.  Plus, he also made a couple of quick corner threes off the catch.  But sometimes he would rush his shots, which would lead him to miss them on occasion.

He also showed a decent ability to get scores off of drives to the basket.  Jerome is a crafty player that can use ball-handling moves to weave past defenders as he can use hesitation moves and ball fakes to get past his man, and he would draw non-shooting fouls on his opponents.  He did miss once after using an up and under move off the dribble, but did manage to score on a tip-in off of an offensive rebound afterwards.

Plus, he also displayed terrific playmaking skills.  Jerome is a very skilled passer that possesses great court vision, and he would tend to throw nifty interior passes, and he would also swiftly kick the ball out to shooters to set up a wealth of scores for his teammates.  He can throw no-look passes and behind the back passes seamlessly, and he also can routinely hit cutters.  He’ll swing the ball to shooters, and he can also find teammates on the move.  He racked up many assists in this game, but did commit a few turnovers.  Sometimes, he may struggle to protect the basketball when handling it, as he can lose it to the other team, and he also threw a bounce pass that ended up getting intercepted another time.

Also, Jerome was able to help out on the boards to get some rebounds for Virginia.  He was able to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he also would sometimes leap up to get defensive rebounds.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  Jerome managed to contest a three to force a miss once.  But another time, he over-ran past his opponent and ended up getting beat off the dribble, which led him to allow his man to score on a pull-up, mid-range jumper.  In general, Ty Jerome played really well, and he excelled as a shooter, scorer, and distributor in his team’s double-digit victory over Virginia Tech.  Jerome is a smart, skilled player that can help his team in many different facets of the game, and he could end up being a first round pick in the upcoming draft.

Virginia’s 6-7 sophomore forward, De’Andre Hunter also had a solid showing in his team’s win over Virginia Tech.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, did a good job of moving the basketball, and he also helped out on the glass when he was on the court.  He showed a knack for scoring on aggressive drives to the basket.  Hunter particularly excelled at going to his left, and he was able to score on a couple of powerful dunks, and he also used a jump stop move to score on a reverse layup.  He has a good first step off the dribble that he can use to get past his opponents, and he would rarely miss shots when looking to take the ball to the rim.

Also, Hunter showed off adequate low post scoring skills.  Hunter would use jab steps before barreling his way to the hoop, as he would tend to draw fouls on his opponents.  He did miss on an up and under move once, but he later was able to score on a put back off of an offensive rebound.  Plus, he also shot the ball well, as he would help his team space the floor.  Hunter would use jab step moves to knock down mid-range jumpers from the baseline, and he also made an open corner three off the catch.

Hunter also displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that will get his teammates the basketball, and he will keep the ball moving on offense.  He can throw long, accurate passes, and he also can pass both off the dribble as well as out of the post.  He did commit several turnovers, though.  Hunter was called for setting a moving screen once, and he also lowered a shoulder on a drive to commit an offensive foul another time.  On a separate play, he used a pump fake but then ended up having a crosscourt pass that he threw intercepted by a defender.  In addition, he also was able to haul in his fair share of boards when he was on the court.  He managed to get an offensive rebound off his own miss once, and he also would leap up to get defensive rebounds to help his team on the glass.

Defensively, Hunter may need to improve.  For the positives, Hunter was able to stay in front of his man as he contested a shot on a drive to force a miss, and he also was able to successfully challenge a three-point shot another time.  However, he tended to be caught ball watching as he would be late on his rotations, and he would allow opponents to score on threes and mid-range jumpers too often.  On a separate play, he ended up getting beat off the dribble to allow a score.

Overall, De’Andre Hunter played well, as he showed off a variety of skills to help his team get a comfortable victory over Virginia Tech.  He is an athletic combo forward that can shoot and score the basketball, and he could project into being a 3 and D type of player in the NBA, as he could be a good value pick for a team in the mid to late first round range in the upcoming draft.

Virginia Tech’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Nickeil Alexander-Walker played well in his team’s loss to Virginia.  He played well in virtually every facet of the game, and he showed off versatile scoring skills to help his team on offense.  Alexander-Walker did a good job of getting scores off the dribble.  He would tend to favor going left, as he would score on tough, aggressive drives to the basket, and he also managed to score on a smooth, two-handed dunk late in the game.  He also would use jab steps and step backs to knock down mid-range jumpers.  However, he would occasionally miss shots in traffic, as he would force up some tough shots at times.

He also shot the ball well from beyond the arc.  Alexander-Walker was able to knock down a couple of open, corner threes to space the floor.  Also, after running off of a screen another time, he was able to draw three free throws after attempting a corner three early in this contest.  He also ran the floor to get the ball, as he was able to draw free throws on a drive in transition.

Also, he showed off adequate playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that possesses good patience and court vision, and he can throw solid interior passes as well as throw good passes off the dribble to set up scores for his teammates.  But he also committed a slew of turnovers.  Sometimes, he would lose the basketball when handling it due to carelessness, and he also had a pass picked off late in this game.  He also would collect his fair share of boards, and he would leap up to get some defensive rebounds on that end of the floor.

Plus, he showed off decent defensive skills.  Alexander-Walker can poke balls away from opponents to make it difficult for them to cleanly handle the basketball, and he also contested a deep three to force a miss.  But sometimes he would be late on his rotations and give his man too much space, which would cause him to allow opponents to score on jumpers.  On a separate play, he was called for a reach-in foul when pressuring an opposing ball handler due to over-aggressiveness.

In general, Nickeil Alexander-Walker had a solid showing, as he primarily excelled as a shooter and scorer, but he also displayed good passing skills in his team’s loss to Virginia.  Sometimes he can be unfocused, which can result in ball-handling turnovers and to him being out of position defensively, but his ability to space the floor could help teams at the next level.  Right now, he may project to be a mid to late first round pick in the upcoming draft, as he could project to be a similar player to current New York Knicks guard, Tim Hardaway Jr. in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Virginia’s 6-2 junior guard, Kyle Guy played well in his team’s win over Virginia Tech.  He excelled as a shooter and scorer when he was on the floor, and he is a crafty player that can get buckets to help his team on offense.  He was able to knock down a slew of corner threes to show off his solid shooting skills, and he also scored a subtly quick layup off of a drive to the basket.   Guy did a good job of getting scores off the dribble, as he managed to score on a tough contested jumper after pivoting off of a drive.  He also attempted to post up once, but he ended up missing on a turnaround jumper.

However, he may need to improve his playmaking skills.  Guy can handle the basketball, and he was able to hit the cutter off the dribble to set up a scoring chance, but he tended to be inaccurate with his passes, as a couple of them went astray in this game.  One ball he threw sailed out of bounds perhaps due to miscommunication, and another pass ended up being intercepted.

Overall, Guy is a skilled shooter that can score the basketball, and he has been a solid player for Virginia this year.  His upside though may be limited as he only possesses average athletic gifts and less than ideal playmaking skills for a player his size, as he plays off the ball despite being of point guard size.  Still, Guy’s ability to shoot and score could potentially help him make an NBA team’s roster, as he could be a similar player to current San Antonio Spurs’ guard, Bryn Forbes in the association.

Virginia Tech’s 6-5 senior guard, Ahmed Hill had a fairly good performance in his team’s loss, as he played especially well in the second half to help his team out.  He is a good athlete that can score the ball in a variety of ways, and he made one highlight reel-worthy play in this game.  On one play, he ran the floor and leapt up to catch a lob pass to score on a high-flying, alley-oop dunk in transition.

He also did an adequate job of knocking down jumpers.  Hill was able to make a quick three from well beyond the arc, and he also ran off a screen to make a contested three another time.  He was streaky with his outside shot though, and he struggled more to make them when taking them off the dribble.  On the other hand, he was able to make a pull-up, mid-range jumper from the baseline.

Overall, Ahmed Hill is an athletic, skilled shooter that can also score on hustle plays, and he is an intriguing prospect that has flown under the radar.  He has excelled as a shooter on the season, and while he has not drawn much draft buzz, Hill’s ability to shoot the basketball could potentially help him make an NBA team’s roster, as he could profile into being like an Ime Udoka type of player in the league.

Virginia’s 6-8 junior forward, Braxton Key also had a good showing in his team’s win over Virginia Tech.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, as he was able to make a corner three to show off his ability to shoot from downtown, and he also would finish plays around the basket to garner scores.  On one play, Key found himself open underneath the hoop, and received the ball before scoring on a powerful dunk.  He also attempted to score on a jumper off of a drive after using a spin move, but he missed that time.

He also played adequate defense.  Key can jump on loose balls and intercept passes to help his team force turnovers, and he is quite active in playing passing lanes.  He also appeared to block a shot off of a drive from behind after initially getting beat, but was called for committing a foul instead as he was called for the swing down on the opposing player.

Overall, Braxton Key played well in his team’s victory over Virginia Tech.  He is a fairly athletic combo forward that shows promise as a 3 and D type of prospect for the next level.  Right now, Key may project to be a borderline second round prospect for the 2019 draft.  He’ll need to continue to improve his jump shot, but if so, he could project into being a DeMarre Carroll type of player in the league.