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Suns’ draft pick Ty Jerome hopes basketball IQ makes difference in NBA

Ty Jerome #11 of the Virginia Cavaliers cuts down the net after his teams 85-77 win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the 2019 NCAA men's Final Four National Championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 08, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Maybe it was concerning to Suns fans when it was reported that the team had traded for the 24th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft to take Ty Jerome, and the ESPN broadcast said Jerome didn’t test well in athletic measurements.

The criticism of the point guard that he’s unathletic is something he’s heard before, he told Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Friday.

“Yeah, I get it a lot,” Jerome said. “But it hasn’t really hindered me up to this point. So we’ll see.”

Jerome believes that there’s more to being a good player than being athletic, and that he has a skillset that makes up for that perceived shortcoming. For one, he’s proven it at the NCAA level as he and his teammates on the Virginia Cavaliers won the National Championship this year.

“I think just being a winner,” Jerome said when asked what his playing strengths are. “Making plays on the court, passing, having a high IQ, keeping the ball moving, finding tons of shooters and just tons of shooters around me now, finding guys. Just being a threat and contributing to a really good team defense, as well.”

One of those attributes, having a high basketball IQ, is key.

“It’s huge,” he said. “It’s definitely the biggest piece of my game, I would say that. Making shots, but just being able to try to be a step ahead of guys helps me make up for my athletic limitations, and that has gotten me to this point and it’s probably going to be the biggest reason I hopefully do well at the next level.”

He hopes those things translate in the NBA, where he drew interest from the Phoenix Suns. Jerome never worked out for Phoenix, but he met with them around the time of the NBA combine. He said Phoenix was a place, in particular, he wanted to come play.

“Just a young culture, good culture, trying to build something new,” he said. “I love the vision they have, and the fact that they want me to be a part of it, I’m extremely thankful for it.”

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