Experts who closely follow and evaluate potential NBA talent aren’t exactly wild about the current Virginia roster. DraftExpess.com, for example, doesn’t currently rate a single Cavalier in position to be drafted over the next couple of years.
But how much does that matter? Generally speaking, the best teams have NBA talent and it’s rare for a program to win a national title, or even make the Final Four, without a few future pros.
But, on the other hand, the ACC has seen plenty of players who were stars at the college level, yet never excelled in the NBA. Heck, just take recent undrafted Cavaliers such as Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey, Akil Mitchell and, presumably, London Perrantes and you’ve got the core of a very good team.
And just because the current UVA players aren’t showing up on the mock drafts right now doesn’t mean they won’t eventually.
This is a relatively young Virginia team and the program has been more about developing talent than signing NBA-ready one-and-done prospects. Players such as Malcolm Brogdon and Joe Harris weren’t exactly popular among draftniks as freshmen.
The Burger Boy
The only McDonald’s All-American in the program right now is rising sophomore Kyle Guy, who has some impressive attributes but doesn’t have a body built to withstand the rigors of NBA basketball at this point.
But Guy and classmates Mamadi Diakite and Ty Jerome should see their roles increase next season, and that means an opportunity for improved profiles among draft experts. Diakite in particular is raw, but has the kind of length and quickness many franchises are looking for these days. Guy’s shooting ability is a serious plus-skill, too.
New-ish to the scene
Then there is the redshirt freshmen class. Jay Huff and DeAndre Hunter are under everyone’s radar right now after sitting out last season. Both will get an opportunity to show what they can do next year.
Huff, like Guy, needs to get stronger, but a 7-footer who can block shots and hit 3-pointers will get a look from the NBA. There’s a reason Mike Tobey gets a shot with the Charlotte Hornets.
Hunter is a 6-7 guard with a 7-2 wingspan and a pretty jumper. The closest comparison to former Tony Bennett players might be Klay Thompson, who played for the Virginia coach when both were at Washington State.
Any number of them could potentially shoot up the draft boards in the next year. But even if they don’t, there’s plenty of reason to think they’ll be fine college players.
Keeping a continuous pipeline to the NBA would be nice for pride and recruiting purposes, but there’s no reason to look at the mock drafts and panic at this point.