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Ty Jerome's relationship with his hard-driving father shaped him into a bona fide NBA prospect

Ty Jerome's relationship with his hard-driving father shaped him into a bona fide NBA prospect

Watch I Am the Prospect: Ty Jerome in full in the video player above. A four-part series, I Am the Prospect follows top basketball prospects in their journey to the 2019 NBA Draft.

The toughest coach Ty Jerome has ever played for?

Nope, not University of Virginia head coach Tony Bennett. Nor Vic Quirolo, his high school basketball coach at Iona Prep (NY). 

Ty's answer? Mark Jerome, his father. 

"Some of those stories I can't even say on the record but he was the toughest coach I ever had to play for and I can't imagine a coach being much tougher than him," Jerome told NBC Sports Washington for I Am the Prospect.

Jerome, who helped lead UVA to its first NCAA title this past season, is now trying to take his game to the NBA. And according to the 6-5 guard, it's those hard days of work with his father which makes Ty believe he can make it at the next level.

"Where I come from has always driven me. I’ve never been given anything, I’ve had to earn everything," said Jerome. "But also, the more adversity you go through the easier it is to handle at the next level.”

However, Mark says he looks back on those days with a level of remorse. 

"There was a lot of yelling, there were words I wish I could take back," he said. "There were things said and things done that I really regret. I think there were times where it probably hurt our relationship." 

From the day Ty was born, Mark Jerome wanted him to play basketball. 

"When he came home from the hospital when he was born, I put a regular size basketball in his crib," said Mark.

Ty grew up playing basketball in the local parks of New York City, where he began to develop the resiliency and tenacity which still defines his game on both ends of the floor.

"You think of guards out of NYC, you think of toughness," he said. "You think of tough guards that can get their own shot and guys who never back down to anybody. I think that's where I get that from, playing up, playing in the parks, playing with guys like that growing up it was really fun."

But before Ty earned a scholarship from Bennett to play at UVA, he had to play to the lofty standards set by his father. Which, as Mark himself says, was no easy task.

"Tougher and in some ways not very proud of some of the stories. I was tough, real tough in a lot of ways," said Mark. "There's been a couple of stories about my relationship with Ty and how hard I was on him and parents are saying 'I get it, I'm the same way, what kind of advice do you have for me?' And I tell them you don't need to be that tough, you just don't."

"You can't understand it because there's no need to be that way," he continued. "I don't even think I understand it all the time. It's not like I had this contrived plot and said when games are starting or during the course of the game I'm going to get really mad or be really tough and it's just sometimes that intensity starts growing inside you."

Mark may not look on those days very fondly, but when Ty and the Cavaliers defeated Texas Tech in the NCAA Tournament championship game, all Ty could think about was sharing the best moment of his basketball career with his father and the rest of his family. 

"As soon as the whistle blew I ran right to them," he said. "I looked for them and I ran right to them because I wanted to celebrate with them right away. They've sacrificed everything for me to be here and to see them proud and see them cry it was really emotional and amazing.

"The joy we were able to bring to people, and specifically for me the joy I was able to bring my family after all they sacrificed for me, that was an amazing feeling for me being able to celebrate with my parents and my brother and the rest of my family. That was the most special moment of my life, and if I'm fortunate enough to get drafted I can't imagine what that's going to feel like, either."

And that moment was just as special for Mark.

"It was amazing," a choked-up Mark told NBC Sports Washington. "My kid, who I had watched his whole life growing up and playing basketball. Everybody is celebrating and he comes running over to hug his mom and me and his younger brother. Of course, him winning I was so happy for him, for him to recognize at the end of winning a championship game his parents and his little brother." 

"I don't know who does that. I wouldn't have. Who does that, what 21-year old does that? What adult does that?"

Now, Ty has his sights set on the NBA. In NBC Sports Washington's latest mock draft, he goes to the Boston Celtics at pick No. 22.

But no matter where he ends up, Ty says he'll embody the principles his father taught him: toughness, hard work, dedication. 

"You are not going to have to worry about what Ty Jerome is doing off the court," he said. "Going to be on time, early to everything. First guy to the gym, last guy to leave. Be one of the hardest workers in the league, that guy is really professional, really accountable." 

"I think people undervalue winning too much. I do whatever it takes to win."

Mark is confident his son will succeed at the next level, too. But of course, he's got some suggestions. 

"Shooting, of course, is going to be really important," Mark said. "I think [Ty] can bring that to the table. I think he's got to get stronger and get more athletic, he's working on those things."

"I'm not nervous, I'm happy for him. I'm excited for him ... I don't think it's a chip, but he's always going to be self-motivated, no matter what. That's just something that comes from internally."

I AM THE PROSPECT

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Troy Brown Jr.'s role as a playmaker doesn't have to change when John Wall returns

Troy Brown Jr.'s role as a playmaker doesn't have to change when John Wall returns

One way the Wizards have shrewdly utilized their time inside the NBA bubble has been giving second-year wing Troy Brown Jr. more time with the ball in his hands. 

Without Bradley Beal and John Wall with the team, Brown has been playing most of his minutes as a primary ball-handler. He even closed out Washington's game on Monday at the point guard position, a role he said, "felt natural" to him. 

It's easy to understand why Brown enjoys dictating the action on the floor. He has a tight handle for a wing his age and displays excellent patience and vision in the pick and roll. He's at his best with the ball. The results speak for themselves, as he's averaging 15.7 points, six rebounds and 5.7 assists while shooting over 46% from the field through Washington's first three games in Orlando. 

There's just an All-NBA-sized elephant in the room. Once the Wizards' bubble experience ends and Wall returns next season, what will that mean for the 21-year-old who's started to find an area in which he can excel?

Obviously he'll have to take a step back. As promising as Brown has been in the bubble, Wall and Beal are two of the best in the game at what they do. You defer to those players because they're All-Star level talents and Brown just isn't yet. But there's still a way for Brown to get minutes running the offense to alleviate Wall and Beal rather than take away from their contributions on the court. 

It all starts with head coach Scott Brooks staggering the young wing's minutes. If he's starting next to Wall and Beal, take Brown out in the first group of subs, maybe for Isaac Bonga or one of Rui Hachimura/Davis Bertans. Then when Wall and/or Beal need their rest, send Brown back out there -- whether it's with Ish Smith or by himself -- to lead the second unit. If he struggles at points as a young player often does, that's what a guy like Smith is there for.

RELATED: LEBRON HYPES UP JOHN WALL'S RETURN

That way, Brooks can take his best players out of the game without worrying about the second unit collapsing in on itself, which has been a problem for the Wizards in the past. If Brown isn't a starter -- which should probably be the case -- simply sub him in for Wall or Beal. The key is to give Brown as many minutes as a ball-handler as possible. 

This isn't to say Brown can't develop into an off-ball threat and play beside Wall and Beal. As he improves his three-point stroke and gets more playing time with the team's franchise players, he'll find his spots to impact the offense without the ball in his hands. For now, however, it'd be wise for the Wizards to put Brown in a position where he's comfortable. 

Brown was a starter early in the 2019-20 season and struggled. He mostly stood in the corner as a third-or-fourth option while Beal and Isaiah Thomas ran the show. Once he moved to the bench and got more opportunities to handle the ball, we saw a noticeable uptick in production and efficiency. 

Starter: 8.1 PPG / 5.2 RPG / 2.6 APG / 38.4% FG / 28.1% 3P
Reserve: 10 PPG / 5.4 RPG / 2.4 APG / 47.9% FG / 38.5% 3P

Per Cleaning the Glass, the Wizards were a -9.9 per 100 possessions when Beal and Brown shared the court this season. When Brown was on and Beal was off, they were over six points per 100 better than that number. When Beal was on and Brown was off, they were over eight points better. This isn't exactly a coincidence. 

It's okay to have more than one playmaker on your team. It's okay to have more than three playmakers on your team. The best and most difficult offenses to stop are those that can come at you in a multitude of ways. Bradley Beal's development into an all-around first option will surely help Wall and Washington's offense become harder to stop, and utilizing Brown in a similar role could take them even further. 

Some of the best teams in the NBA have an abundance of ball-handlers on their roster. Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart all spend time as the lead ball-handler for Boston. The Thunder have three point guards -- Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous Alexander, Dennis Schroder -- that all play heavy minutes. The Clippers have Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Lou Williams running the show at various points throughout games.

RELATED: TAKEAWAYS FROM WIZARDS VS. PACERS

Sure those players share the court a good amount and there's only one ball, but those teams stagger their minutes to put constant pressure on opposing teams. 

It'd be unfair to expect Brown to be a legitimate third fiddle to Wall and Beal like Schroder and Hayward are for their teams. But he's not going to get there any quicker if you stick him in the corner and tell him to be a spot-up shooter. Let the man cook.

I'm not one who's aware of the Wizards' plans or goals for next season, but if they want to develop their former first-round pick's strengths, maintain their bench production from this season and ease their best players' burdens to the point where they can be more rested for the playoffs, playing Brown as a primary ball-handler would be a step in that direction. 

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Bradley Beal thinks Rui Hachimura will be a small forward long-term

Bradley Beal thinks Rui Hachimura will be a small forward long-term

Whether it actually matters is debatable, but what position Rui Hachimura best profiles for long-term has been a point of contention among fans and media members ever since he was drafted by the Wizards ninth overall last summer. He is what not long ago would be described as a 'tweener,' or somewhat of a cross between a small forward and a power forward.

Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal has put some thought into it and has now weighed in. He thinks Hachimura will be a small forward.

"Honestly, I think Rui is going to end up being a three. When his career is over with, he's going to end up playing the three," Beal explained during Sunday's Wizards-Nets broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

"I don't know what that's going to look like next year or what we're going to jump to, but you can see spurts of it. You can see he can handle the ball, he's comfortable with handling the ball. Obviously, we can improve that and make that better. He shoots the three comfortably."

That last point could probably be picked apart a bit and it does hold some importance in the argument. If Hachimura is indeed going to be a small forward, he will need to add some perimeter skills to his game.

Three-point shooting would be included in there and so far there certainly seems to be room for improvement. This season, he is shooting just 27 percent from three on 1.7 attempts per game. 

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In the three games the Wizards have played in Orlando, Hachimura is 0-for-1 from long range. He didn't attempt any threes at all in their first two games of the restart.

The reason why it is an interesting debate is Hachimura doesn't fit the traditional norms for either the three or four position. And that could be a good thing, as former teammate C.J. Miles pointed out in November. When you don't match up perfectly with opponents in any specific position, sometimes that means you are a mismatch for anyone who is guarding you.

Beal himself went on to rave about Hachimura's versatility.

"He's super athletic, so he can use his size to post up. So, the versatility is there. It's just a matter of what we want to mold him into," Beal said. "I think the sky's the limit. He has the ability, he has the work ethic, so I'm definitely excited to see."

RELATED: NBA PLAYERS BRING UP KAWHI COMPARISONS DESPITE RUI'S ROUGH GAME

Hachimura not having a true position could be an advantage. What the Wizards will need to determine, however, is how to complement his skillset with other players as they continue to build their roster. 

Whether Hachimura is a three, a four or even a small-ball five, the best way to maximize his strengths will be to fill in the gaps around him. Putting a rim protector alongside him, for instance, would allow him to roam and switch on defense. Having teammates who space the floor will create openings in the midrange, where he is very effective scoring the ball.

Those involve more important questions than what position Hachimura will ultimately be defined by. But it's still a fun debate to have and now even Beal has been drawn into it.

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