Virginia loses key player to broken wrist three days before NCAA tournament

Eric Espada  Getty Images

Eric Espada Getty Images

A broken wrist will keep De'Andre Hunter, the ACC's Sixth Man of the Year, out of the NCAA tournament.

Hunter was named the ACC Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds off the bench for the Cavaliers. He's expected to miss 10-to-12 weeks, but he should make a full recovery after having surgery, which is scheduled for Monday.

The most promising NBA prospect on college basketball's top-ranked team will miss the NCAA tournament.

The loss of Hunter is a crushing blow to a Virginia team in the midst of one of the best seasons in school history. Hunter suffered a broken left wrist during the Cavaliers' run at the conference tournament in Brooklyn last week.

Hunter's emergence as a versatile scoring threat was a huge part of that success. He banked in a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at Louisville on March 1 to cap an improbable comeback in a 67-66 victory, and then made several critical free throws in the final minutes of the ACC title game as Virginia held off North Carolina, 71-63. He recorded 14 points and 10 rebounds in a 66-37 victory at Pittsburgh on February 24.

Virginia's NCAA Tournament is not off to a good start.

With Hunter out, U.Va. will likely rely even more on key bench players Nigel Johnson at guard and Mamadi Diakite at forward.