With another four-star player to help alleviate some of the defensive attention, Jerome Hunter really thrived this past weekend in Fort Wayne. There at the annual Run 'N Slam, he led his Ohio Nova team to the championship game yesterday.
The weekend help came via former Ohio State commit Darius Bazley. The Cincinnati area (Princeton High) forward joined Ohio Nova just for this weekend. Bazley is a 6-foot-7 prospect currently ranked No. 80 in the Class of 2018, just one spot ahead of Hunter. He's expected to join the Twenty Two Vision team with five-star Romeo Langford later this summer.
"We used to be rivals," laughed Hunter on Sunday. "We used to always go at it, the two best players in the state. I don't really know him that well but it's been good playing with him."
The 6-foot-7 Hunter hails from the Pickerington North High, just outside of Columbus, Ohio. He's being pursued by several Big Ten programs and holds offers from Michigan, Illinois, West Virginia, Penn State, Butler, Pitt and Ohio State interest has picked up following the decommitment of Bazley.
Indiana has jumped in under new coach Archie Miller.
"I have talked to them, more of the assistant coaches, not to Archie, personally," Hunter said.
Miller made him one of his first offers when the new Hoosier head coach was at Dayton.
"That day I went to a team camp (at Dayton), he offered me a scholarship there," Hunter said. "Then I think he thought I wasn't going to go there because it was Dayton. But now that he's with Indiana...I don't know him a lot, but I do know him a little bit."
Hunter said he's mostly been hearing from the only Hoosier assistant that was on Miller's Dayton staff, associate head coach Tom Ostrom.
The entire coaching staff of Indiana scouted Hunter in April during his team's play in the adidas Gauntlet circuit. But his play and his team's play was on another level this week in Fort Wayne. Over the three days he showed his versatility by consistently knocking down long jumpers and driving it successfully to the basket.
Hunter averaged 28 points his first two games of the weekend against high level Nike EYBL teams --- The Family (MI) and Playground Elite (WI). Yesterday it was more of the same as his 16 point first half enabled Ohio Nova to get off to a big lead in a quarterfinal victory and his play was instrumental in a 66-60 semifinal win over the Louisville Magic.
Ohio Nova finally ran out of gas in the late afternoon final, falling to All Ohio Red, 61-43. All Ohio Red only lost one EYBL game in April and is led by Ohio State commit Dane Goodwin.
"We were just moving the ball a lot more," Hunter said. "We just tried to do too much 1-on-1 in our other tournaments, but we figured it out."
It certainly didn't hurt having Bazley for the weekend. That gave everyone there a glimpse of how tough Hunter will be at the next level when he's not always the primary focus for the opposing team.
"I can play different positions, guard different positions. It really opened me up more because they (defense) had to worry about him. He was a good fit for us."
Hunter says he'll take a much needed break this coming weekend before competing the following weekend at the Super 16 event in Ohio.