Hunter the latest 'Hoo headed to NBA

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- De'Andre Hunter is projected as a potential top-five pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. On Monday, he officially entered his name in this year's draft pool.

Hunter, a redshirt sophomore forward who scored 27 points in last Monday's NCAA championship game against Texas Tech, announced on Instagram on Monday afternoon that he was forgoing his final two seasons at Virginia to enter the NBA Draft.

"Playing NBA was always a lifelong dream, with that being said I would like to announce that I will be entering the NBA draft and signing an agent," Hunter's post said. "UVA will always be a special place to me."

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Being at the University of Virginia has been an amazing experience. From being a redshirt to winning a national championship, the journey has been unbelievable. I want to say thank you to Coach Bennett and the coaching staff for challenging me everyday to become not only a better basketball player but a better man off the court. I am forever grateful for them. Winning a national championship has always been a dream of mine and accomplishing that with this team is something I will never forget. Thank you to all the fans for your tremendous support. You guys will always be in my heart. My family has always been my backbone. I could never thank them enough for all of the work they have done for me. My mom, brother, and two sisters have always been there for me and without them I would not be the man I am today. I want to Thank God for blessing me with this unique opportunity. Playing NBA was always a lifelong dream, with that being said I would like to announce that I will be entering the NBA draft and signing an agent. UVA will always be a special place to me. Wahoowa! ����

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Hunter and junior guard Ty Jerome, who also announced his departure on Monday morning, are the first UVA players to forgo eligibility and enter the NBA Draft early since Justin Anderson in 2015. The latest mock drafts on both ESPN.com and CBSSports.com have Hunter going at No. 5 overall.

Hunter was named the NABC Defensive Player of the Year earlier this month, and the ACC's top defensive player last month. The All-American also earned first-team All-ACC honors. For the season, Hunter averaged 15.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, with 22 blocks and 22 steals.