John Beilein is nothing if not judicious when it comes to extending scholarships. That’s why Jerome Hunter's distinction as one of five members of the 2018 class currently holding an offer from Michigan is so significant. The Pickerington (Ohio) North star is clearly a prime target for the Maize & Blue. The reason? In a word… versatility.
“I’m 6-7, 200-pounds. I can play inside out,” Hunter said. “I can go from the post to the high post to the wing… I can go anywhere on the court, any position you play me at. I can play any position."
“I try to emulate Kevin Durant. I've been trying to work on that game."
Hunter has tried to affect his team in multiple phases of the game much like his idol does for the Golden State Warriors, and thus far he has had a fair amount of success doing so.
"(The season) is going good,” said Hunter. “I think we're 14-6 right now. I think I'm averaging right now 20.6 points and 11.7 rebounds."
Numbers both now and last summer have gotten the attention of multiple schools, and to date 14 of them have offered. Xavier, Florida, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia are but a few of the high majors that have jumped into the fray with the Wolverines. Four have already received visits.
"I went to Pitt for a football game. I went to Ohio State a couple times, Xavier about twice and those are the only schools I've been able to visit. I visited Michigan last fall."
It was during that trip to Ann Arbor that John Beilein delivered the unexpected offer news.
"Coach Beilein watched me about twice during the summer and he wanted me up for a visit,” Hunter recalled. “So, I went up there and the facilities were nice and the coaches were great. We sat down and talked to the coaches and Coach Beilein. He didn't even know he was about to offer me a scholarship until he asked me a question, how did I like Michigan (on a scale) from one to ten. I said,’10.’ He said, ‘okay, I'm going to offer you a scholarship."
“I’d heard Coach Beilein doesn't offer a lot of kids so I was surprised."
That move put the Wolverines definitively in the game for the talented youngster. The man leading the charge to keep Michigan there has been first-year assistant Saddi Washington.
"He's a real cool person… a nice person to talk to,” Hunter said of Washington. “He talks to me almost every single day about what kids they like recruit and stuff like that."
The bond with Washington is helping Michigan’s cause, but Hunter is far from naming any leaders. He is attacking his recruitment with an open mind… one uncorrupted even by childhood allegiances.
"I didn't grow up with anybody,” Hunter replied when asked if he’d been a Buckeye fan. “I didn't really watch sports growing up."
“I love every school that's been contacting me right now."
The school that he winds up loving the most will be the one the best meets a series of criteria that Hunter has deemed most important.
"It's going to be the academics (and) the style of play… the way they're going to be playing me,” he explained. “(I want them) just to let me play, not keep me to one position. I can play any position so I don't want to just play one position and do that the whole four years I'm there."
“(Another factor is) how many people are coming in from different classes. Like the 2017 through 2019 classes, and that's about it. And the coaching staff."
At the moment, Hunter is a long way away from singling out a victor. He plans on taking his time getting to that point.
"I think I'm going to wait until my senior year (to make a decision), he said. “I'll figure it out, I don't know when."