Reigning ACC Sixth Man of the Year De’Andre Hunter will return for his redshirt sophomore season at Virginia, the talented forward announced on Twitter on Friday.
After much consideration, I have decided to return to school and not enter my name in the 2018 draft.
— Dre (@Dr_Dre14) April 20, 2018
Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in a shade under 20 minutes per contest in his debut season. After redshirting in his first year in Charlottesville, Hunter emerged as a key piece for the Cavaliers on both ends of the floor, shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from deep. At 6’7″ and 222 pounds, Hunter provided length, strength, athleticism and versatility on the defensive end, often drawing other teams’ top assignments.
Hunter was regarded as a possible first-round pick after his impressive debut campaign. He has the size and skill set that NBA teams look for in a wing, and he elevated his level of play in-conference, becoming one of the Cavaliers’ top options on the offensive end with his terrific midrange game and ability to extend to the three-point line. But Hunter broke his wrist in the semifinal of the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn and had it heavily wrapped the next night when he scored 10 points to help the Cavaliers win the ACC Tournament championship over North Carolina. Shortly thereafter, it was revealed that Hunter would miss the rest of the season. Without Hunter, Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to ever lose to a No. 16 seed, falling to UMBC 74-54.
While Hunter’s return isn’t a surprising one — the wrist injury would have greatly impacted his pre-draft preparation — it is a very important one for a program that spent much of last season as the nation’s top-ranked team. The Cavaliers lose starting guard Devon Hall, starting power forward Isaiah Wilkins and reserve guard Nigel Johnson, three of the best defenders on one of the nation’s best defensive teams. But all-ACC guards Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome both return for their junior seasons, and starting center Jack Salt will also be back as a senior. Hunter will likely slide into the starting lineup and become one of the ACC’s top all-around players.