San Antonio Spurs 2019 NBA Draft Prospects: Ty Jerome
While the San Antonio Spurs already have a stable of guards, they could look to add a proven winner in Ty Jerome, who led the Virginia Cavaliers to an NCAA Championship in 2019.
Every year during the NBA Draft the San Antonio Spurs always find a way to make announcers, analysts and the 29 other teams in the NBA scratch their heads and say, “How did this player slip to the Spurs?”
The 2018 NBA Draft epitomized this sentiment almost perfectly. Somehow, the Spurs were able to snag Lonnie Walker IV, who many pegged as a surefire lottery talent, with the 18th pick in the draft.
Although he does not have quite the same hype surrounding his game, much like when San Antonio selected Derrick White with the 29th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Virginia’s Ty Jerome could have pundits pondering that same question again.
As a sophomore, Jerome and the Virginia Cavaliers made history, ending their 2017-18 season in infamous fashion. Tony Bennett’s squad inexplicably became the first No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament history to be defeated by a No. 16 seed after a thoroughly embarrassing thumping at the hands of UMBC.
This could have been the lasting memory linked to Jerome’s collegiate legacy, but he vowed after that premature exit from the NCAA Tournament that he would never feel that disappointment again. And then, nearly a year later, the Cavaliers flipped the script knocking off Texas Tech in overtime of the championship game to wrap a bow on a truly iconic redemption story.
After posting a 16-point, 8-assist and 6-rebound performance in the final game of the tournament, Jerome elected to follow in the footsteps of his fellow running mates at UVA, De’Andre Hunter and Kyle Guy, announcing he would forgo his remaining eligibility to pursue his NBA dreams. After an impressive NCAA Tournament, Jerome vaulted his draft stock from being a second-rounder to being firmly in the mix as a late first round pick.
A native of New Rochelle, New York, Jerome was one of the most complete guards in the Atlantic Coast Conference as well as one of the more underrated floor generals in all of college basketball. The 6’5″ junior was the third-leading scorer (13.6), just behind Guy and Hunter, while posting a conference-best 5.5 assists per game as well as 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals for the Hoos.
Jerome’s most bankable skills are his shooting stroke and playmaking abilities. The former Cavalier connected on an impressive 39.9 percent of his three-point attempts, launching 5.4 long-range shots per game.
Teams will love his basketball IQ and his unselfish tendencies. Jerome is always looking to make the right play and pass teammates open for high-percentage opportunities. He possesses elite vision that allows him to survey the entire floor and masterfully dissect opposing defensive schemes.
Tony Bennett’s UVA teams have always been predicated on using the entirety of the shot clock and methodical ball movement. Jerome has proven to be a proficient student of this style of play, operating with a steady and meticulous pace. He rarely appears to be rushed and allows the play to unfold without forcing it.
Jerome doesn’t immediately strike you as a physical specimen, but he possesses underrated athleticism and a quick first step that allows him to take defenders off the dribble. He’s a skilled slasher who can slice to the basket and finish effectively around the rim with either hand. Jerome is also equipped with a nifty floater that’s nearly automatic.
The combo guard can navigate the pick-and-roll efficiently and find ways to either get to the basket off the dribble drive or hit cutters for better looks. Jerome is a smart decision-maker who infrequently makes careless mistakes, which is evidenced by him only committing 1.6 turnovers per contest.
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Jerome isn’t without his flaws, but he’s crafty enough to accentuate his strengths and minimize his weaknesses. While he’s not a defensive stopper, Jerome’s long 6’5″ frame allowed him to be a solid help defender in college and he was a vital cog in a Virginia defense that was among the best in the country.
However, it’s not a coincidence that two of UVA’s three losses last season came at the hands of the Duke Blue Devils. Yes, they had an elite freshman triumvirate consisting of Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish, but it was Duke’s up-tempo and frenetic pace of play that disrupted Jerome’s rhythm and Virginia’s offense on two separate occasions. If teams can agitate him and speed him up, Jerome can be prone to overcompensating with a rushed shot or a an unforced miscue.
Jerome’s low-maintenance personality and altruistic game would be an ideal marriage with the Spurs’ culture. Already an NCAA champion who had to overcome a years’ worth of scrutiny, adversity and doubt, Jerome has exhibited immense character that Coach Gregg Popovich would love to have on his roster.
With his ability to knock down the trifecta at a high rate, Jerome’s game would fit in nicely alongside guards like Dejounte Murray and DeMar DeRozan, who aren’t as adept at hitting shots from downtown. Jerome’s selfless skillset and impressive basketball IQ further align with San Antonio’s core principles that promote the extra pass and team success over personal success.
Since the Spurs already have a bevy of guards at their disposal, Jerome would have difficulty cracking the rotation. San Antonio could elect to move on from veteran point guard Patty Mills, which would open up some additional minutes in the backcourt, but Jerome would most likely spend his rookie season getting his feet wet in the G-League before receiving meaningful minutes.
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San Antonio has two first round picks to work with in this upcoming draft and Jerome could be a legitimate option for their latter selection with the 29th pick.