"I hate to see you go, but I love to watch you leave."
Whenever I start to think about good byes, that line pops into my head. It was one of my favorite moments from the movie Face/Off, and it stuck in my head. I like to use it with my girlfriend when we diverge toward our separate offices.
It means something a little different here, because, no, I am not interested in watching Ty Jerome's ass when he walks away. His girlfriend can have that pleasure. What it means is that while I hate to have to lose these guys from our team, I love that they will be leaving for professional opportunities, for their next dreams, and I love to watch them do that. So, while I am anticipating several sad good byes this spring, I am really happy and excited to watch them leave.
First, now is the time for Jason Williford. He's been turning down jobs, partly because he wanted to help UVA get the natty. It was in his blood, in his soul just as it was in ours. Mission accomplished. Now is the time to say yes. If you turn down enough jobs, the offers stop coming. Jay Willy is probably at that time when if it's going to be ever, it has to be now. I can't speak for him because I can't see into his heart or read his mind, and if he is as happy with the idea of being a career assistant as I am with the idea of finishing my career as a paralegal, then more power to him and I would be thrilled for him to be Tony's Bill Guthridge. But if he wants to be a head man, I'm looking forward to watching him establish his own program somewhere else. I will instantly become a big fan of that school.
Then there are the players. We know we have to say good bye to Jack Salt. What he will do next, I have no clue. I'm sure he could get a spot on a professional team in New Zealand if he wants to return home and keep playing. But he has a couple of degrees now, so maybe he will choose a different path. He's likely to be Tony's second graduating senior since 2014 to not get an NBA tryout of one kind or another. Evan Nolte was the first.
Harris, Brogdon and Hall were drafted. Mitchell, Atkins, Gill, Tobey, Perrantes, and Wilkins all had summer league spots. Most if not all of them were invited to a training camp.
Salt, I am sure, will join Nolte as not having an NBA tryout. I look forward to seeing what he decides to do. Whatever it is, I know he will do it well and have success.
Jack is not going to be the only player we say good bye to. De'Andre Hunter seems poised to be not only Tony's first TAD (Two-And-Done), but also his first lottery pick. Dre is going to get paid. We all made our peace with that reality months ago.
Ty Jerome is going to be a better NBA player than anybody thinks possible.— Seattle Hoo (@SeattleHoo) April 10, 2019
A less settled peace is the one still to be made with this reality. Hoo fans have not even begun to confront other realities.
The current NCAA and NBA rules make it so that most Cavaliers have nothing to lose by declaring for the draft and going through the process. They can get the evaluations, sign with agents, seek a Combine invite, then see what happens. I am attempting to confirm if the rule that lets a player return after the draft if not drafted is in effect this year. If so, that makes it even better for the players.
Declare, sign with an agent, go through the process. If you do not get a Combine invite, terminate the agent and withdraw. Come back to school with great information on what you need to do. Sit down with Tony and Mike Curtis and discuss how to incorporate the NBA feedback into your training plan. Get a Combine invite, go through the Combine and then either stay in the draft if you are satisfied with where they predict you will go, come back if it is apparent you will not be drafted, or, if the after-draft rule is in effect, stay in the draft and if you don't get picked, come back.
A player can now do this twice before declaring takes away all his eligibility. That means that Ty, Kyle and Mamadi have literally nothing to lose. Jay Huff also has nothing to lose. He can do it this year and next year and still play his final year if he wants. If I were advising any one of them, I would advise him to declare. It is to me a no-brainer.
Ty will get a Combine invite. I am not convinced that Kyle and Mamadi would not be in the 69-player Combine pool. In fact, I expect both would be. Even Jay could get the invite. If I were an NBA exec, I would be frothing at the mouth for a chance to work him out.
Anybody still think Ty Jerome is not a guaranteed first rounder? His play in the NCAA Tournament, especially the Final Four, included a number of plays that must have made some NBA scouts sit up straighter. I swear, when I watch Ty play I always think of Larry Bird. He never looks the part, but he's almost always the best basketball player on the court. Almost always the smartest. His brain is so fast, and his hands are so fast, that he can make plays where you wouldn't think his feet and legs would allow them.
Ty Jerome will be in the NBA next year. Book it.
I am not as convinced as most UVA fans that Kyle will not get drafted. I suspect he would shine in the Combine environment. Is he the player Joe Harris was? Leave size out of it for now. Is he the player Joe Harris was? I submit he's better. In the more open spaces of NBA ball? I believe there is a good chance some NBA front office is going to take note of Joe's development and see Kyle doing the same thing.
Mamadi may well be told he has more to learn before he is an NBA prospect; Jay that he has more strength to gain and more to prove. Then again, with the things we have seen them do on the court, it is not outside the realm of possibility that they could do a whole bunch of those things on the Combine floor and have some NBA GMs chuckling over their beers "that Tony Bennett sure can hide them."
At the very least, I expect us to be saying cheerful good byes to Jason Williford, Jack Salt, De'Andre Hunter and Ty Jerome. I think it's a better than even chance we will be sending off Kyle as well. I give non-trivial but decidedly less than probable odds on also saying good bye to Mamadi Diakite and/or Jay Huff.
I do expect one or perhaps two transfers, but I never discuss specific individuals.
These good byes don't make me sad. I don't worry about what our roster will look like next year. That's a totally separate issue and these players should not give a second's concern to it, nor should we ask them to concern themselves with it. Is it best for the player to move on or to return? That's what matters. If it is best for all of those guys to enter the NBA draft and they all get drafted, then I will be overjoyed, and I will cherish every effort the guys we have in uniform next year put forth. We will get to watch them grow and develop just like we have their predecessors.
Damn, I love Virginia Basketball under Tony Bennett.