Rather than a full on preview for each player on the roster this year we will be attempting to focus on one question that will determine how the player might fit on the team. The questions aren’t designed to carry either a positive or negative connotation, just really suss out how the roster is built. We’ll start with the freshman and build on to the players everyone knows. We know and you know the caveats that Covid brings, so this will be the only mention of it.
Jerome Hunter was part of Archie Miller’s future at Indiana. Hunter joined the Hoosiers as part of class that was top 10 in the nation at the time. Explosive off the bounce and a solid shooter, Hunter figure to be well suited to a team that could run. Four years later, Indiana is heading into a sixth season without an NCAA appearance, Archie Miller is out of work, and Jerome Hunter comes to Xavier mostly as a reclamation project.
Hunter’s career at Indiana derailed almost immediately. A mysterious leg injury that all of the Google work in the world cannot uncover cost him the 2018-19 season. Multiple surgeries and procedures left Hunter unable to play for an entire year and rightly questioning if he ever would again. The specimen who dominated games physically in high school was largely gone. Rather than attacking the rim, Hunter took 61% of his shots from behind the arc, making a mediocre 30.2% of them.
Last season Hunter was somewhat more aggressive, getting to the rim for 23% of his shots, a 10% increase from the season before. While that hardly made him the slashing, powerful threat he had been, it was an improvement. Somewhat more importantly, Hunter knocked down 34.2% of his three point attempts. In his four starts, though, Hunter shot only 3-16 from deep and showed some of the defensive flaws that plagued his time at Indiana. And he had a two game suspension for a violation of team rules. In short, Hunter’s time at Indiana didn’t go to plan.
So what is Xavier getting? At 6-7, 215 Hunter is big and reasonably athletic. What he doesn’t do is rebound very well. His rates will land him somewhere between Paul Scruggs and Colby Jones. Not exactly what you expect from someone with his size. Defensively he struggles to stay in front of a man and isn’t a back side shot blocker, though one assumes that Coach Steele and staff will work on that. Hunter can shoot the ball from deep, was 10th in the conference in shooting percentage inside the arc, and has loads of untapped potential. The tools are there, it just needs someone to put them together.
Four years after Jerome Hunter was the 51st ranked recruit in the nation he has come home to Ohio. He’s left behind a school where he didn’t fit, a coach that wasn’t the one who recruited him, and some bitter disappointment. Here at Xavier he has a chance to get his career back on track. Time is running out.