#5 Virginia Men's Basketball 2018-2019 Preview

Virginia Cavaliers
2018-2019 Overall Rank: #5
Conference Rank: #2 ACC
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The best season in Virginia basketball history ended in a historic way, just not in the favor of the Cavaliers. Virginia went 31-2 in the regular season, earning the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament only to become the first 1-seed to ever lose to a 16-seed. Virginia has similarly high expectations this season with all but three contributors returning from last year. Backcourt studs Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome are back along with potential NBA first round pick De’Andre Hunter. Tony Bennett has become one of the best coaches in the nation and should have his team focused on redeeming last year’s historic loss.
2017-18 Record: 31-3, 17-1
2017-18 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tony Bennett
Coach Record: 219-86 at Virginia, 288-119 overall
Key Departed Players:
Devon Hall, Guard, 11.7 ppg
Isaiah Wilkins, Forward, 6.0 ppg
Nigel Johnson, Guard, 4.9 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Kyle Guy, Junior, Guard, 14.1 ppg
Ty Jerome, Junior, Guard, 10.6 ppg
De’Andre Hunter, Sophomore, Forward, 9.2 ppg

Mamadi Diakite, Junior, Forward, 5.4 ppg
Jay Huff, Sophomore, Forward, 3.4 ppg
Jack Salt, Senior, Center, 3.4 ppg
Marco Anthony, Sophomore, Guard, 2.0 ppg
Key New Players:
Francesco Badocchi, Freshman, Forward

Francisco Caffaro, Freshman, Center
Kihei Clark, Freshman, Guard
Braxton Key, Junior, Guard, Transfer from Alabama
Kody Stattmann, Freshman, Guard
Virginia returns their talented backcourt combination of juniors Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome. Guy earned Third Team All-American honors behind 14.1 points per game while shooting 39.2% from three. Jerome was named to the All-ACC Third Team last season and has made himself into an NBA prospect. Guy and Jerome combine to make up arguably the best backcourt in the nation, let alone in the ACC. Possibly the biggest reason for high expectations this season is the return of sophomore forward De’Andre Hunter. Hunter was injured and missed the NCAA Tournament, and there’s no way to ever know if Virginia’s fate in the postseason would have been different with Hunter present. Hunter is a potential NBA lottery pick who makes Virginia even more dangerous this season. Mamadi Diakite, Jack Salt and Jay Huff are all back to rotate the Virginia frontcourt. Diakite could be in line for a breakout season as a junior this year. The Cavaliers also have some new additions to the roster, most notably Braxton Key. Key, a transfer from Alabama, was granted a hardship waiver to play this year after playing 26 games last season. Key averaged 12.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a freshman before having a disappointing sophomore season and deciding to transfer. Virginia also adds four freshmen to the fold who could provide depth for Tony Bennett’s squad. Virginia has become known as the team that can’t produce in the NCAA Tournament, and they will be out to prove that notion wrong this season. The Cavaliers have the talent to earn a top seed in the NCAA Tournament again, but the real mark of this year being a success would be finally getting Tony Bennett to a Final Four.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.1 (314th in nation, 12th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 54.0 (1, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.0 (110, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.0 (3, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.3 (214, 13)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.3 (41, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.4 (47, 3)
Rebound Margin: 1.7 (121, 8)
Assists Per Game: 13.5 (182, 10)
Turnovers Per Game: 8.5 (1, 1)
Madness 2019 NBA Draft Rankings:
#12 De'Andre Hunter