Observing De’Andre Hunter, Jarrett Culver, and Kyle Guy in the 2019 National Championship Game

April 8, 2019

by Alan Lu

I took the time to watch Virginia face off against Texas Tech in the National Championship game, and it was one of the most exciting matches in college basketball this year.  It went down all the way to the wire, but Virginia was able to get a win in overtime due to the strong all-around play of sophomore forward, De’Andre Hunter, as well as solid performances from their guards.  Here are my thoughts on how Hunter, Jarrett Culver, and the others fared on this day, as well as how they may currently stack up as prospects for the NBA.

Virginia’s sophomore forward, De’Andre Hunter had a terrific performance in his team’s win over Texas Tech, as his strong play in this game helped them get the title.  In this game, he scored 27 points and had 9 rebounds in this contest.  Though he did have a slow start in the first half, he really played well in the second half and in overtime, as he had a strong all-around performance helped pave the way to get his team the victory.

He did a great job of knocking down a slew of jumpers to space the floor for his team on offense.  Hunter really excelled at knocking down spot-up threes off the catch, and he would often take advantage whenever opponents would give him space to shoot the basketball.  He also was able to make a pull-up, long two-pointer, and he also showed a good ability to get scores off the dribble.  Hunter also showed a knack for scoring on strong drives to the basket as the game progressed, and he was able to score on a nifty spin move once.  He also managed to score in the post.  Plus, he also managed to score on a strong put back in traffic after getting an offensive rebound, as he drew an extra free throw on that play afterwards, but early on, he was rushing his shots, which led him to miss shots off of drives in the first half.

Also, he displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Hunter did not get many assists in this game, but he was able to drive and find an open Ty Jerome to set up a three-point score for him due to possessing solid court vision.  However, he also was a bit turnover prone in this game, as he would sometimes rush his moves.  There was one play late in this match where he threw the ball out of bounds because he tried to pass the ball to his teammate, but his teammate was trying to call a timeout, and the miscommunication led him to be inaccurate on his pass.

He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Hunter was able to leap up to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  He also played terrific defense.  Hunter would often move his feet and contest shots to help his team get stops, and he also made a big defensive play late in overtime that really swung the momentum in his team’s favor, as he was able to poke the ball off of Davide Moretti to force a turnover and get a steal on that play.

In general, De’Andre Hunter had a magnificent showing in his team’s National Championship game victory over Texas Tech, and he played very well on both ends of the floor to help his team get the win.  He thoroughly dominated the competition in the 2nd half and in overtime, and Hunter is a solid prospect whose versatility and ability to fit into any role could make him a very good pick for a team in the top 5 range of the upcoming draft.

Texas Tech’s sophomore swingman, Jarrett Culver had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Virginia.  He did not have his best game, as he struggled from the field and was unable to consistently knock down shots on offense, but he was able to get some solid scores at times, and he also showed off solid playmaking, rebounding, and defensive skills elsewhere in this contest.  Culver struggled to knock down shots overall, but he showed a decent ability to score on aggressive drives to the hoop.  He can get scores in the paint when he plays under control, and he also managed to score after using a spin move once.  He also showed a good ability to draw free throws after running the floor to get scoring opportunities on the break, but opponents really keyed in on him in this game, as he had trouble scoring in traffic, and he also had a couple of shots stuffed at times.

He also struggled to knock down jumpers against Virginia.  He did have a handful of open shots that was given to him by the defense, but Culver was unable to make them pay as he ended up missing all of his three-point shots from beyond the arc.  In this game, Culver displayed very good playmaking skills.  He showed off very good court vision, as he can throw a variety of accurate passes to set up scores for his teammates.  He was able to find Tariq Owens on a roll that helped lead him to score on a dunk.  Culver was able to get back-to-back assists another time, as he was able to find Matt Mooney in the corner to get him a three, and he also drove in to find Norense Odiase around the basket to set up another score.

Plus, he also rebounded the ball very well.  Culver would often crash the glass to haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he showed a knack for hauling in rebounds in this game.  He also played fairly good defense.  Culver showed solid footwork and he would actively contest shots to help his team force misses.  He would usually put himself in very good position on the defensive end. He was able to get a couple of steals, and he also managed to swat a shot off of a drive to help force a miss around the basket, but he also was called for committing several fouls, as his aggressiveness when contesting shots would at times lead him to get whistled for fouls.

In summary, Jarrett Culver had his highs and lows in his team’s loss to Virginia.  Though he did not shoot the ball well in this particular match, he was able to make some solid plays in the other facets of this game.  Despite his off-kilter night from a shooting standpoint, Culver is a talented prospect that has a solid set of all-around skills, and he may still end up being a good value pick for an NBA team in the lottery in the upcoming draft.

Virginia’s junior guard, Kyle Guy put forth a solid performance in his team’s win over Texas Tech.  He did a great job of shooting and scoring the basketball, and he would often score on threes and pull-up, mid-range jumpers.  He has a strong mid-range game, and he can use step back moves to create separation from himself and his defenders prior to knocking down a plethora of jumpers.  He also managed to score on a quick cut to the hoop late in this contest. 

Overall, Guy had a fantastic NCAA Tournament, and he could end up being a second round pick if he decides to declare for the NBA draft.  Though he may not possess ideal size or playmaking skills for a player his size, Guy is a smart, skilled shooter that can put up points in a hurry, and his ability to space the floor and penchant for taking and making smart shots could make him a solid fit for the modern NBA, and his skills could allow him to excel as a role player at the next level.

Virginia’s 6-5 junior guard, Ty Jerome had an adequate showing as he was able to showcase an array of skills that helped get his team the victory over Texas Tech.  Jerome did a very good job of passing the basketball, as he would make terrific passes off the dribble, and he would also kick balls out to shooters to set up a wealth of scores for them.  He also rebounded the ball fairly well, as he was especially active in collecting defensive boards to help his team.

However, he was inconsistent as a shooter and scorer on offense.  He did score 16 points, but he took a lot of shots to get to that point total.  He was able to make a step back, corner three, and he also managed to score on a nifty turnaround jumper in the post.  On the downside, Jerome also would miss plenty of shots, which ended up hurting his scoring efficiency in this game against Texas Tech.  Overall, Ty Jerome had a fairly good performance in the National Championship game, as he almost was able to record a triple-double, and he displayed strong playmaking skills in this contest due to possessing very good court sense.  He is a smart, skilled player that can play either backcourt position, and his ability to help out in many different ways could enable him to be a first round pick if he decides to declare to enter the NBA draft.

Other Notes:

Texas Tech’s 6-3 senior guard, Matt Mooney had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Virginia.  Though he didn’t stand out for most of regulation, he was able to make some big shots in overtime to help his team stay in the contest.  He was able to knock down spot-up threes, and he also was able to get a crafty score off the dribble.  Overall, Mooney had a very good collegiate career, as he was a key part of his team’s success this year.  Though his lack of ideal physical tools may limit his upside as a prospect, Mooney is a skilled shooter and scorer, and his ability to make plays on offense could perhaps enable him to end up finding a role as a backup point guard in the NBA.

Texas Tech’s 6-10 senior center, Tariq Owens had a solid NCAA Tournament overall, but this particular game against Virginia was not a very good one for him.  Owens did show some solid interior defensive skills, as he has good quickness, leaping ability, and timing to block shots in the paint, but he was plagued with foul trouble, as he eventually fouled out late in this contest.  He also ended up being a non-factor on offense, as he didn’t take or make many shots, and he had trouble knocking down jumpers.  He did score on a high-flying dunk off of a roll to the rim after receiving a pass from Culver, and Owens also helped out on the glass by getting multiple boards on both ends of the floor.

Overall, though Owens did not have a great game against Virginia on this day, he has shown his importance and value to his team by providing strong shot blocking and defensive skills throughout the NCAA Tournament.  He is an athletic big man that plays solid interior defense, and he also has the capability to space the floor.  His advanced age and perhaps lack of polished offensive skills may prevent him from going high in the draft, but Owens’ skill set and ability to protect the rim could enable him to carve out a niche role as a defensive specialist in the NBA.

Virginia’s 6-9 junior center, Mamadi Diakite quietly had a good game in his team’s title game win over Texas Tech.  He was the anchor and the backbone of his team’s defense, and he continued to display strong shot blocking skills in this contest.  He also was able to poke a ball out of bounds to almost get a steal once.   Plus, he also scored efficiently on offense, as he mostly excelled as a scorer around the basket.  Right now, Diakite has not drawn much draft buzz, but he is an athletic big man that can protect the rim, and he could be a potential second round pick whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft, as his defensive skills could allow him to end up being a solid role player at the next level.

Virginia’s 6-8 junior forward, Braxton Key also played well in this game.  He made some solid defensive skills, as he was able to leap up to block a shot off of a drive due to possessing good athleticism, timing, and instincts to do so.  He also did a great job of rebounding the basketball, and he also made a nice hustle play on offense by running the floor to score on a late game dunk in overtime. 

Though he has put forth rather pedestrian numbers on the season, Key has been vital to Virginia this year, as his ability to produce coming off the bench has helped his team thrive for prolonged stretches.  He is an energetic, combo forward that had a fairly good showing in this contest, and he could be a potential second round pick in 2020, as he may have the skills to end up being a defensive specialist at the next level.

Davide MorettiBrandone Francis, and Kyler Edwards did a good job of shooting and scoring the basketball, as their ability to make threes and score on layups off the dribble really helped Texas Tech stay in the game against Virginia.  Norense Odiase had a decent showing in his team’s loss in this contest.  On one hand, he didn’t look to score often, but he was able to score after being left wide open around the basket, he rebounded the ball well, and he was able to block a shot out of bounds.  He is an energetic, mobile big man who was able to make some solid plays in this game.  Though Odiase may be undersized and will need to improve his skill set offensively, his motor and ability to defend could allow him to make an NBA team’s summer league roster this year.