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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."


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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."