Ohio State target and Pickerington (Ohio) North power forward Jerome Hunter put on quite the performance in his team’s win over Upper Arlington, Ohio, in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I boy’s basketball state tournament on Thursday night at Ohio Dominican University.
The four-star 2018 prospect finished the game with 27 points, as Pickerington North defeated UA, 64-44. Hunter scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half.
“I came out at first shooting a lot of jump shots, wasn’t really hitting,” Hunter said. “(Pickerington North coach Jason) Bates said start inside out, I wasn’t really listening. At the start of the second half, I just really listened to him, started inside out and then that’s where my points started coming. I started coming more and more out when I started inside.”
Getting Hunter (6-7, 195) to start from the inside and work his way out has been a season-long challenge for Bates.
“Jerome and I have wrestled all year long about inside out because he’s special on the wing, definitely special,” Bates said. “I think that in high school, he’s just such a force on that block, he’s just hard to deal with. It’s just him learning and him using his basketball I.Q., and just becoming a more mature player and understanding what I’m telling him.
“It’s not that I’m saying he can’t shot because he knows I know he can shoot it, but it’s just putting more pressure on the defense from going inside out. To start off a game, he’ll say he’s got to shoot that first jump shot to get himself in the game.”
Hunter also grabbed 10 rebounds.
“(Upper Arlington was) getting a lot of rebounds so we just had to buckle down and I said, ‘I’m going to go get every rebound because nobody else was rebounding,’” Hunter said. “So I was like, ‘I’ve got to get every single one.’”
With the Panthers trailing UA by one at the start of the fourth quarter, Hunter decided to take over. He scored 13 points in the final frame, which included him hitting one of his two triples on the night.
“It was good for him to see the success that he was having,” Bates said. “Not only that, he made difficult shots inside. They were d’ing him up and they had two guys around him at all times and they were tough and physical with him. He just made some special shots in that game, even from the inside. So that’s just a tribute to him and just his versatility, to be able to dominate a game from the inside, but also to make a couple threes at the same time. He’s just a special player.”
OSU commit and UA shooting guard Dane Goodwin finished with a team-high 18 points, hitting a pair of threes. The four-star 2018 prepster was highly impressed with Hunter’s play.
“Jerome was great tonight, hitting all kinds of shots, getting rebounds,” Goodwin (6-4, 175) said. “For a player his size to be able to shoot like that and play the way he does is special. He’s a great player and he showed it tonight.
“He can do a lot of different things. He can post up, he can get you from the perimeter. He’s an in-and-out player and can do what he wants a lot of times. He hit a bunch of big shots tonight.”
UA head coach Tim Casey gave Hunter equal praise.
“You’ve got to him credit, like I told our guys,” Casey said of Hunter. “I thought we had a pretty good plan. I thought we stayed up underneath him. I thought we pushed him out on the floor a little bit, he didn’t have just attacks at the rim. I mean, he just jumps up over you and shoots it. He’s hard to defend, especially with our size. We were guarding him most of the game with a 6-footer and a 6-2 guy and that makes it tough, that makes it tough. But he’s a good player, he’s a great player.”
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