Atlanta Hawks: NCAA Title Game Showcased 2 Potential Draft Picks

De'Andre Hunter #12 Jarrett Culver #23 Atlanta Hawks 2019 NBA Draft (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
De'Andre Hunter #12 Jarrett Culver #23 Atlanta Hawks 2019 NBA Draft (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

A quick peek at the games that two potential Atlanta Hawks 2019 NBA Draft picks had in the NCAA title game.

Just ahead of the Atlanta Hawks season being over, the college basketball season is over as well, and the NCAA Championship game delivered one of the most memorable achievements in recent NCAA basketball history. The Virginia Cavaliers, fresh off losing to a 16-seed the year prior, performed the most remarkable and drastic turnaround ever seen in the sport by defeating the Texas Tech Red Raiders in overtime 85-77 to win its first national title in school history.

Though a brutal loss for Texas Tech, this was a scintillating game with all manner of storylines. For Atlanta Hawks fans who might not be utterly invested in the minutiae of the college game, there were multiple NBA prospects on display last night headlined by likely Top 10 picks (and possible Top 5 picks) De’Andre Hunter of Virginia and Jarrett Culver of Texas Tech.

Culver is among the best players in this draft class and was recently listed as second on our Atlanta Hawks Big Board. However, right behind him at third was Hunter, showing just how close of a matchup this was in terms of draft stock and potential upside.

In the game, Hunter (27 points, 9 rebounds, 8/16 shooting) thoroughly outplayed Culver (15 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 5/22 shooting) and was also almost solely responsible for Culver’s poor shooting night (22.7% from the field, 0 of 6 from deep) due to his smothering defense.

Though Hunter had a few notable gaffes, he was rock-solid overall, and his near-perfect three-point shooting (4 of 5 from deep) helped lead Virginia to its first-ever title.

Despite an off night, Culver showed plenty of flashes as well as mammoth cajones late in the game as he spun past Hunter in the lane and finished with his off hand (left) for a supremely clutch bucket. His three-pointer might not have been falling, but he was comfortable taking it late in games, which is important.

Culver also showcased those late-game chops in the previous game against Michigan State, as he led his Red Raiders past the Spartans with a late triple:

On the strength of their respective performances, it seems likely that Hunter might’ve risen past Culver on many draft boards – due to recency bias – but, to this writer, Culver would still be a better fit for the Atlanta Hawks.

It must be noted, of course, that the Atlanta Hawks could draft both of these players if the ping-pong balls fall just right.

Next. 13 Players Hawks Could Select in 2019 NBA Draft. dark

Let’s hope that happens, so the extremely memorable 2019 NCAA title game will always be an important touchstone for Hawks fans.