Virginia is not a bad team to model after. Sure, the Cavaliers get ripped for their slow style of play and lack of tournament success. But constant top rankings in the polls show that Virginia is truly one of the premier programs in the modern era.
How do they thrive? Well there are a couple things that stand out. First, they have a lot of veteran players and do not rely on significant NBA one and done style talent. Does UVA have future pros? Absolutely. Sophomore De’Andre Hunter is a lottery pick this year and Malcolm Brogdon won the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2017.
Right now, the Cavs have the best odds to make it to the Elite 8 and have a prime chance to shake off their postseason cobwebs and get to the Final Four for the first time since 1984. While Hunter is the best prospect on the team, the backbone lies in the Virginia backcourt. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome have helped build a strong foundation thanks to their defense and stellar three point shooting. Without their veteran leadership matching their on-court performance, UVA isn’t even close to the product that they are today.
So what does all of this have to do with Syracuse? Well, they might have their Guy-Jerome level combo coming in for the 2019-20 season. Not to mention a little splash of Hunter as well. SU brings in guards Brycen Goodine and Joe Girard next season as well as forward Quincy Guerrier. All three of those UVA players came in together in one class and have built one of the most dominant team the sport has seen in recent memory. Now, the SU trio looks to duplicate it.
While the Cavaliers players all had higher ratings than the incoming Orange players, their skillsets are both pretty similar.
Kyle Guy and Joe Girard
Like Girard, Guy lit up the high school scene in his home state. Both players were noted marksmen in high school and Guy showed it on the national stage by winning the high school three point contest, something Girard will have an opportunity to do at this year’s Final Four. Guy checks in at 6-foot-2, which is similar to Girard’s 6-foot-1. But neither let their undersized stature diminish their play. While both guys are known as sharpshooters, an underrated part of both of their games is their scrappiness and hustle on both ends of the floor.
Ty Jerome and Brycen Goodine
The Virginia offense is run by Jerome, who is a great leader for the Cavaliers. That’s a trait that Goodine was learning in his final year of high school. Jerome has had steady shooting numbers throughout his college career, which is an area that Goodine has thrived in during his high school and AAU careers. Both guys exploded with 50+ spot jumps in recruiting rankings heading into their final seasons, and if Goodine can be anything like Jerome is for the Cavs, the Orange will be in good hands.
De’Andre Hunter and Quincy Guerrier
Hunter is one of the best stretch big men in the country and has really developed into the player he is today. He redshirted his freshman season, much to his dismay. Then he followed that up by not starting a single game for Virginia and suffering an injury that held him out of the team’s embarrassing tournament loss to UMBC. Now, he’s looking like a top 10 pick. Hunter can do damage inside, but also can step out and hit threes. He’s knocked them down at a 44 percent clip this season, including a career high five triples against Syracuse this season. Hunter is also gifted on the defensive end winning ACC Defensive Player of the Year this season. Guerrier also brings the dimensions of Hunter with the similar 6-foot-7 stature. He plays like a big guard and has excellent footwork. Guerrier’s three point shooting is also one of his strengths.
It’s not going to happen all at once for the incoming SU recruits. All three Virginia guys combined to average 11.8 points per game in the first season they were on campus. Fast forward to today and all three individually average at least 13 points. As long as the pieces stay intact, there could be something special coming in this 2019 class.