Posted on: March 5, 2018 Posted by: Old Man Comments: 0

De’Andre Hunter, SF/PF, Virginia, FR(RS)

6’7/222 pounds/7’2 wingspan/20.3 years old    

~ Get to know the name De’Andre Hunter.  He is currently the darling of the scouting community and for good reason.  At 6’7 with a 7’2 wingspan, solid jump shot and great defensive prowess he has all the makings of a modern day NBA swing forward.  When I first saw him play against West Virginia I thought he had great length and potential but for the most part was a three to four year project.  He had no consistent jumper to speak of, a rigid handle and was learning his defensive assignments.  During non-conference play Hunter only made 3 three point shots, played in 4 games of at least 20 plus minutes and scored double digits 3 times.  He was someone to keep tabs on for the rest of the season but I wasn’t expecting much from the redshirt freshmen.  What a difference three months makes.  

During conference play Hunter is shooting 47% from three and is averaging 18.9 points, 7.7 rebounds per 40 minutes.  He only averaged 22.8 minutes per game during conference play but has played 25 plus minutes five of the past eight games.  Considering Virginia is deep with good upperclassmen players there has to be more built in trust for Tony Bennett to play Hunter extended minutes.  Hunter has made so much progress from the first game of the season to now.   

His jump shot is still pretty inconsistent even for shooting 47% from three in conference play on only 1.9 attempts per game.  The mechanics on his shot need some tweaking; his set point is above his head, sometimes two ball lengths above his head, then has an “out” release flattening the arc on the ball.  The accuracy is fine but the arc isn’t consistent.  He needs to lower his set point to his forehead and have an “up” follow thru on his release.  That would put more arc on the ball and have a consistent high release point.  Overall as a catch-and-shoot player Hunter is a 1.098 PPP (points per possession) which ranks 64th percentile and a 1.00 PPP at half court jump shots which ranks 65th percentile.  Messing with shot mechanics is a dangerous game but it’s worked for Kawhi Leonard and Jayson Tatum at the next level.  Even though his three point percentage for this season is 38% and his conference percentage is 47%, his mechanics and small sample size say he needs to alter some things slightly on his jump shot.  

His ball handling is dependable but both hands could use some work to be more secure.  As an isolation player Hunter has a 1.13 PPP which ranks 87th percentile.  He can drive left or right and finish thru contact at the rim.  Shots around the basket (not including post-ups) Hunter is a 1.233 PPP which ranks 70th percentile.  He isn’t an offensive pick-and-roll player just yet and that’s something I’d like to see him develop next season.  He needs to be a sturdier screen setter, better rim-runner and more proficient pick-and-roll ball handler.  As of now he is more of a spot up jump shooter, who cuts and works out of the midrange.  He likes to use a variety of step-backs, jab-steps and pull-backs to create space when he’s operating out of the midrange.  Before he can enter the draft he needs to become a better well rounded offensive player. 

Defense was the very first thing that excited me about Hunter.  Even back in non-conference play Hunter used his length and quick feet to switch 1 thru 5, hedge hard and promptly recover and make on a string rotations.  He has blossomed as one of the better defenders in the country during conference play.  He’s done an excellent job of slowing down pro prospects like Marvin Bagley, Josh Okogie and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.  As a one-on-one defender Hunter can guard multiple positions, move his feet, get low and shut downs angles in a hurry.  He isn’t an amazing athlete like Hamidou Diallo from Kentucky but Hunter is still a very good athlete.  He will have an occasional lapse on defense, miss an assignment or miss read a pick-and-roll coverage but overall he has everything scouts look for to be a premier wing defender at the next level.    

In my opinion he needs at least one more year of school to sharpen up things defensively and to develop more pick-and-roll skills offensively.  I read columns stating that he should enter the draft this season and that’s a possibility depending on how the tournament goes for him.  It could catapult his stock into the lottery since the wing depth is poor this draft and the NBA in general.  Mikal Bridges from Villanova is an example I always go back to.  He was a redshirt freshman himself, developed more skills the next two seasons and now is a possible lottery pick this draft.  Hunter is further along than Bridges was but the same theory applies.  Next years draft is looking pretty weak and if Hunter rounds out his game than I wouldn’t see why he can’t be a lottery pick next year.  Keep an eye on De’Andre Hunter come march madness, the rest of the scouting community will be too.  

* All stats provided by Synergy Sports Technology *

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