Efficiency a key to Hunter's improvement

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Tony Bennett flashed a smile Monday afternoon when asked about De'Ande Hunter's improvement this season.

"He's taken his foot off the brake, as we like to say," Virginia's men's basketball coach said. "And we need that."

Hunter was named the ACC Player of the Week on Monday, after averaging 19.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in the Cavaliers' three wins in the Bahamas last week.

Hunter was named MVP of the Battle 4 Atlantis for that same performance -- which included a near triple-double (15 points, eight rebounds and nine assists) against Middle Tennessee, matching his career-high with 23 points against Dayton, then a 20-point, nine-rebound night in the championship game against Wisconsin last Friday.

The Cavaliers improved to 6-0 on the season with those three wins last week. On Monday, they held steady at No. 4 in the Associated Press top 25, and checked in at No. 2 in the NCAA's first-ever NET ratings. UVA visits No. 24 Maryland (6-0) on Wednesday in this year's ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Hunter leads the Wahoos in both scoring (16.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.3 rpg) through those first six games. His shooting percentage (61.3 percent) and 3-point percentage (46.7 percent) are also both up from last year, when Hunter was named the ACC's top sixth man, but missed the Cavaliers' NCAA Tournament first-round loss to UMBC with a wrist injury.

Projected as a potential first-round pick in the NBA Draft, Hunter chose to return to UVA for his redshirt sophomore season following that injury. Bennett says a key to Hunter's development this year has been the efficiency he has played with.

"The ability to not have to just dominate the ball or be volume. But to understand when to be aggressive. How to impact the game without scoring. On the glass, defensively. Those areas are really important, and I like seeing that maturity in his game," Bennett said. "He does it in the right way. That makes for a good player, and helps a team the most."

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