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Virginia’s Ty Jerome declares for NBA draft

NCAA Men's Final Four - National Championship - Texas Tech v Virginia

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 08: Ty Jerome #11 of the Virginia Cavaliers celebrates the play against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first half during the 2019 NCAA men’s Final Four National Championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 08, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

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Ty Jerome announced on Monday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft and signing with an agent.

The 6-foot-4 point guard averaged 13.6 points, 5.5 assists and 4.2 boards for the national champs this season, and he will enter the NBA draft evaluation period as one of college basketball’s most important decisions.

You see, the rules have changed.

Signing with an agent does not mean a player gives up his collegiate eligibility anymore, so long as he only accepts what NCAA rules allow him to accept and he cuts ties with the agent at the end of the draft process. And Jerome is one of those players that is going to end up right on the edge of “they have to go now” and “they probably would be better off returning to school for a year.”

At this point, he more or less is what he is as a prospect. He turns 22 years old in July. Coming back for another season isn’t going to make him a markedly better athlete or add another three inches to his wingspan. And when you’re coming off what is the pinnacle of college basketball achievement -- winning a national title in what might be the greatest redemption story in the history of the sport -- what more is there to play for?

That said, Jerome is something of a borderline prospect. He has ‘elite backup point guard’ written all over him, and he seems like the kind of player that will spend a decade playing in the NBA, but the question is whether or not there are NBA teams that will be willing to draft a player like that at the end of the first round.

I would guess the answer to that question is more likely than not. Jerome is the kind of guy that can help playoff teams off the bench right now, which why I would hazard a guess that he is probably gone.

But there is certainly a chance that he doesn’t hear what he wants to hear throughout the process and returns to school, and if he does, it is the difference between Virginia being a top ten team and being a preseason top five team, if not the No. 1 team in the country. Jerome would be in the mix with Cassius Winston and Markus Howard for preseason National Player of the Year.

There is a lot riding on his decision.