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NBA Draft prospect De'Andre Hunter is ready to make his family proud at the next level

NBA Draft prospect De'Andre Hunter is ready to make his family proud at the next level

When asked if his family had a motto, De'Andre Hunter summed it up in two words: "Family first."

"We have a great bond, we're really close and we all get along. I feel like that really helped me in the long run," the 2019 NBA Draft prospect told NBC Sports Washington for its miniseries I Am The Prospect. "We know we have each other's back, we always put each other before anyone else."

The Hunter family has always had De'Andre's back, supporting him from the days during his childhood when he'd wake them up early in the morning to play basketball, to the night he helped Virginia win its first NCAA title.

Things weren't always easy in the Hunter household. De'Andre's father, Aaron Hunter Sr., died when De'Andre was 7, forcing the entire family, especially his mother Priscilla, to take on more responsibility and bond together. 

"My mom is the rock of the family. She does anything for every single one of us. No matter where she is or what she's doing, she's willing to help us in any kind of way," Hunter said. "And as far as my brother and sisters, they're the same way. They're really caring, and we ... really look after each other. 

"In a family that's what you need, and we just always support each other, no matter what the circumstance is."

And as he grew up, De'Andre's older brother Aaron Jr. took on a more paternal role. 

"Once my father passed away, he really stepped up," De'Andre said of Aaron. "He really taught me a lot of things that he went through. I didn't see him grow up, but I saw him become, I feel like, a man in some sense. Because he had to take care of our family in a certain way.

"He cares for me a lot, so I thank him a lot for everything he's taught me."

In fact, it was Aaron who De'Andre called upon when he got the disappointing news he would be redshirted his first year at UVA and thus ineligible to play that season.  

"The decision to redshirt really hurt," Hunter said. "I didn't see it coming, but when coach (Tony Bennett) told me, I just took it."

"I told my brother, I probably complained to him a little bit but he just told me to use it in a beneficial way and don’t look at it in a negative way. I tried to do that, and I feel like in the long run it definitely helped me.

Over those next two seasons in Charlottesville, Hunter became a bonafide college star. He won the ACC's Sixth Man of the Year award during the 2017-18 season then earned the conference's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2018-19, not to mention leading the Cavaliers to a national championship, scoring a team-high 27 points in the title game against Texas Tech.

Hunter recalled how special it was having his family in the arena that night to celebrate with him. 

"It meant a lot for them to come all the way out to Minnesota to watch me play," he said. "They took off from work, took off from things they probably had to do, just to come see me play. That means a lot to me because they really don't have to do that. But they were there for me." 

Now, Hunter is preparing to take the next step into the NBA ranks. And when his name's called Thursday night at the draft, his family will be there cheering -- and probably crying -- for him. 

"Draft night's gonna be really emotional. I don't know if I'm gonna cry or not, but I know a few members of my family will be crying, so that'll probably get to me a little bit," Hunter said with a smile. "It's gonna be a great moment for not only me but for my family as well."

"My mom's for sure gonna cry. My sisters might even cry, but I feel like Aaron might let a few tears out."

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Ted Leonsis expects Bradley Beal to take his time to consider new contract offer

Ted Leonsis expects Bradley Beal to take his time to consider new contract offer

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- There has been no mystery for the Wizards and their intentions to offer All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal a contract extension this Friday, July 26, the first day that they can. General manager Tommy Sheppard told ESPN their plan to offer Beal the full max, projected at $111 million over three years, a contract that would begin with the 2021-22 season.

Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis then reiterated as much following the team's press conference on Monday to introduce their new front office leadership.

"Brad is such a high integrity person and he wants the best for our fans and the best for our organization. So, of course, we will go pay respect to him and his management team and his family," Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington.

What Leonsis is not certain of, however, is whether Beal will actually sign the contract. There are reasons why he won't – like the fact he could make over double the money in a five-year deal if he bets on himself, makes All-NBA next season and qualifies for a supermax.

Beal was apprehensive about signing a supermax this summer when asked about it in April. He said he needed to see the direction the organization was going because he wants to win more than he wants to squeeze every dollar out of his next contract.

Beal shared those thoughts about a contract that was expected to be worth $194 million over four years. Now it's less money the Wizards can offer.

Leonsis doesn't know what Beal will ultimately decide, but he does believe it will take time before the team hears his verdict.

"I don't expect Bradley Beal to say 'thank you' and sign the contract when Tommy goes to see him on the 26th," Leonsis said.

The challenge for the Wizards when it comes to selling Beal on their future is that they just reset the organization for the long-term. They restructured their front office to add Sashi Brown as chief operations and planning officer, beefed up their medical staff with Dr. Daniel Medina and created a new athlete development and engagement department led by John Thompson III. 

But these changes won't bear fruit immediately. They need Beal to see what they see down the road, how the foundation they have laid could lead to a winning basketball team.

Leonsis said he kept Beal updated on the process of finding new executives every step of the way. Leonsis, Sheppard, Brown, and others now need to get Beal on board with the long-term vision.

"All those things are put in place to show him that we're tooling this together for the long-term," Sheppard told NBC Sports Washington.

"Everything we're putting in today will be exponential. It is a commitment to grow and for a long time, not just for today or this summer for free agency. This is for the rest of your career."

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Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- It might be quite a while before we see John Wall on the court playing for the Wizards again.

It was already well-known Wall will miss extended time as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon, a rehab that usually takes at least 11 months. But it is starting to sound more and more like he won't play in the 2019-20 season at all.

Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis shared that harsh reality on Monday during a press conference at Capital One Arena.

"Our highest-paid player, our five-time All-Star, may not play at all next year. He probably won't play at all next year," Leonsis said.

If Wall follows the general timeline for the surgery, he could come back sometime early in 2020. A 12-month recovery would have him return in early February.

If Wall missed all of next season, he would return to start the 2020-21 campaign after a 20-month recovery. That would be nearly double the rehab time many players have taken for the same injury over the years. He would be 30 years old by then.

But Wall and the Wizards have reason to be extra patient. He is entering the first season of a four-year, $170 million supermax contract. Punting the first year, even if he is making $38 million, could be worth it in the long run if it means he returns to his All-Star form.

The Wizards are also likely to have a gap year of sorts anyways. They retooled their roster with young, inexperienced players. The odds they make the playoffs this season are lower than they have been in years. The Wizards are taking the long view and they know getting Wall's rehab right is paramount.

Leonsis and team officials currently get daily reports on Wall's progress. After making the supermax investment, they are taking extra measures to ensure he is holding up his end of the bargain. The Wizards closely monitor his weight and have a rotation of physical therapists working with him every day.

If it were up to Wall, he would be more likely to return next season. The team is the side taking extra caution.

"Trust me, nobody wants to get back to the court more than John Wall," GM Tommy Sheppard told NBC Sports Washington. 

"But I've tried to manage this with him and say there is no calendar or clock that is going to tell you to come back. You're going to come back when you're 100 percent healthy. Anybody who has watched him in the playoffs play with broken hands and all of the aches and pains he's had over the years and he still showed up and played at a high, high level. You know you need to monitor him a little more than most. That's the kind of player that is going to try to sneak back on the court any time he can."

What Leonsis said publicly has been the belief behind the scenes in the Wizards organization for quite some time. They are preparing for next season as if he won't play, 

"We have to see if John Wall comes back and how he looks and how he plays," Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington. "If John Wall can come back at 80 percent the year after [in 2020-21], I would be really happy because then we would have a great, great backcourt."

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