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De'Andre Hunter helped Virginia win the 2019 national championship. 

By Emily Caron
June 20, 2019

Virginia forward De'Andre Hunter will reportedly head to the Atlanta Hawks after being taken with the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA draft.

The Hawks acquired the New Orleans Pelicans' No. 4 pick in a trade earlier on draft night, according to multiple reports. The pick originally belonged to the Los Angeles Lakers, who sent it to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis blockbuster.

Hunter spent three seasons under head coach Tony Bennett, redshirting his first year in Charlottesville and then earning Sixth Man of the Year honors after a standout freshman season. Taking a starting role as a sophomore, Hunter averaged 15.2 points—good for second on the team behind shooting guard Kyle Guy—and added 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.

Hunter poured in a career-high 27 points on 8-for-16 shooting to go with nine rebounds in the 2019 title game, capping off the Cavaliers' redemption run after their infamous 2018 first-round loss—which Hunter missed with a broken wrist—with his best personal performance to date, helping Virginia beat Texas Tech.

Hunter started all 38 games for Virginia this season, shooting at a 52.0% clip from the field and 43.8% from deep.

The 6'7", 225-pound forward ended his collegiate career as a consensus Third-Team All-American, NABC Defensive Player of the Year, All-ACC First-Team and the 2018–19 ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

SI NBA draft expert Jeremy Woo’s breakdown: Hunter peaked at a good time with a star turn at the Final Four, and while he may not be a franchise-changing player, he has a chance to be a solid, useful one. Depending on which team you are, the fact that he's older and more prepared to play in the NBA tomorrow than most of the draft’s top prospects makes him a lottery option. But the upside with him is not immense. Hunter is functionally strong, but not extremely fluid or explosive, and lacks natural instincts as a scorer playing off the dribble. Most scouts still don’t entirely trust his jumper. He’s an unflashy all-around player who can defend a variety of positions, and won’t hurt you in any one area. It does help that you more or less know exactly what you’re getting with him, and the hope is that he’ll be a versatile, defensive-minded starter who knocks down open threes early in his career. He’s someone you value for floor more than upside.

Woo's Grade: B

In a draft like this, it makes sense that the Hawks would consolidate their assets and move up for the player they covet most. While in most drafts, Hunter wouldn’t be a top-five talent, it’s understandable why the Hawks chose to prioritize him. Atlanta felt it had to get ahead of the Cavs at No. 5 to grab Hunter, and while it came at a high price, Hunter should fit nicely with the pieces it has in place. He’ll provide defensive cover immediately, should be a feasible threat from beyond the three-point line and doesn’t need to be a star to return value here. The hope is that Hunter becomes a strong complementary piece for Trae Young, and it’s a reasonable decision by Atlanta.

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