UVa’s De’Andre Hunter (right) is greeted by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being selected fourth overall by the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA Draft on Thursday. Hunter was the ACC defensive player of the year this past season.
UVa’s De’Andre Hunter gets a hug after being selected No. 4 overall in the NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday in New York. The Atlanta Hawks acquired the pick in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, who got it from the Lakers.
In the highest selection for a University of Virginia basketball player in 36 years, De’Andre Hunter was the fourth player selected Thursday night in the NBA Draft in New York.
For the first time in program history, UVa had a second player selected in the first round as the Philadelphia 76ers took point guard Ty Jerome with the No. 24 pick, on behalf of the Phoenix Suns.
Boston acquired the rights to the No. 24 pick in a trade with Philadelphia, but then sent that pick to Phoenix in another trade Thursday night.
Hunter, a 6-foot-7 forward from Philadelphia, was named the ACC defensive a player of the year this past season, when he was the leading scorer for UVa in its victory over Texas Tech in the NCAA championship game.
Atlanta traded up to select Hunter in the hours before the draft, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, sending the New Orleans Pelicans the No. 8, No. 17 and No. 35 picks.
In addition to the No. 4 selection, the Pelicans sent Solomon Hill, the No. 57 pick and a future second-round pick to the Hawks.
The Los Angeles Lakers, who traded the No. 4 pick to New Orleans in the recent Anthony Davis trade, made the pick because NBA trades cannot be officially completed until July 6.
No Virginia player had been selected earlier in the NBA Draft since Ralph Sampson was chosen No. 1 by the Houston Rockets in 1983.
The earliest a Virginia player had been selected since Sampson was in 1987, when Olden Polynice went eighth.
“De’Andre Hunter is the best individual defender in this draft,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. “He can guard [positions] one through five. He’s versatile at both ends of the floor. He’s fundamentally sound and really easy to play with.
“I’m not saying he’s Kahwi Leonard [of the NBA champion Toronto Raptors] but he’s got some attributes of Kawhi Leonard that make him a really good player. His upside is great. His floor is the highest of any guy his size in this draft.”
Bilas also spoke favorably of Jerome.
“Outside of [No. 2 overall pick] Ja Morant, I think he’s the best overall pick-and-roll passer in the draft,” Bilas said. “He shoots it from deep and he makes creative shots near the bucket. He just knows how to play.
“He’s just a high-IQ basketball player, a gamer that never backs down.”
Jerome did not attend the draft. Nor did his long-time backcourt partner at UVa, Kyle Guy, who also passed up his final season of eligibility but was seen as a more likely second-round pick.
Hunter, who lost his father as a pre-teen, wore a locket in his dad’s memory and was accompanied by his mother and his older brother.
“When I went there, they had a pretty strong feeling about me,” Hunter told ESPN interviewer Maria Taylor of a workout in Atlanta. “I knew that’s a place I wanted to be. I’m glad they traded up and got that pick.”
Joshua Needelman of the (Charlottesville) Daily Progress contributed to this report.