BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – When Justin Smith left Indiana for Arkansas last year, the thought was that the door was open for redshirt sophomore Jerome Hunter to break through with a big year. But it never really happened.
Hunter was mostly a role player this season, playing in 25 games – he was held out of two games by Archie Miller for violating team rules – and he started the last four when Armaan Franklin was dealing with foot and ankle injuries. But outside of a few moments here and there, Hunter's season was average at best.
Here's a breakdown of his season, what I liked and didn't like, his best game and future prospects and – of course – his final grade.
There's also a terrific video chat with Hilltop30 Scholarship Fund winner Haley Jordan, so check that out as well:
Jerome Hunter by the numbers
- Games played: 25 of 27
- Games started: 4 of 27
- Average minutes: 19.5
- Points per game: 6.3
- Rebounds per game: 3.0
- Assists per game: 0.6
- Steals per game: 0.36
- Field goal percentage: 43.4 (59-for-136)
- 3-point percentage: 34.2 (25-for-73)
- Free throw percentage: 51.9 (14-for-27)
What I liked
For all the health issues that Hunter went through during his first year in Bloomington in 2019, it was nice to see the Pickerington, Ohio native out on the floor all season long. At least from a health perspective, he was back.
He had four double-digit games for the Hoosiers, and did the best he could while playing out of position most of the year. He was usually the first guy off the bench when post players Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson needed a break. He had to battle down low more than he'd like, especially on the defensive end, and held his own.
What I didn't like
First off, his benching by Miller for two games didn't sit well with me because this short-handed team needed him, and he wasn't there. That bothered me. He also didn't shoot as well as I'd like, and was a really disappointing free throw shooter, making just 51.9 percent all year.
I really thought he was going to have a big season for the Hoosiers, and that he'd have an opportunity to start and make a big impact. But it never really happened. Part of it was being forced to play out of position a lot after Joey Brunk's injury took away of lot of the Hoosiers' interior depth, but I still expected more.
When he got the chance to start late in the season, he was a non-factor. He was just 3-for-16 from three-point range (18.7 percent), and the Hoosiers lost all four games.
Hunter had games where he scored more points, but my favorite moment for him this season was the double-overtime win at Northwestern, where he hit a step-back three-pointer late to put the game away.
This was right after his two-game suspension, so it was nice to step up at an important morment and hit a big shot. It helped him with his teammates too, showing them that he was dialed in and ready to contribute.
Hunter, like many of his teammates, is going to benefit a lot from the coaching change from Archie Miller to Mike Woodson. With a more free-flowing plan of attack, that should fit Hunters's skill-set well.
I think he'll be better able to relate to Woodson and his message better than Miller, too. He'll be a big factor next year.
Final grade: C-plus
C-PLUS: A failure to reach expectations had a lot to do with this grade. I expected so much more from him this season, and we never really saw it. I was especially disappointed that he didn't play better when he got a chance to start in those final four games, when he basically no-showed down the stretch.
I'm not giving up on him, though. I do think he'll be a much better player next season, but he really needs to fix that free throw issue
Previous 'Final Grades' stories
- TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS: Sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis was Indiana's leading scorer and rebounder this year, and there was no question he was the Hoosiers' best player. Here's his grade. CLICK HERE
- ARMAAN FRANKLIN: Sophomore guard Armaan Franklin made great year-over-year strides and emerged as Indiana's best perimeter threat on both sides of the floor. CLICK HERE
- RACE THOMPSON: Redshirt junior Race Thompson fought through injuries at the end of the season and battled in the post all year during his fine season. CLICK HERE
- AL DURHAM: Senior guard Al Durham was up and down, but he conclude his career as one of 53 Hoosiers to score 1,000 points all-time. CLICK HERE
- ROB PHINISEE: Junior guard Rob Phinisee really struggled with his confidence this season, and it really affected his shooting numbers. CLICK HERE
- NEXT UP: Indiana freshman Trey Galloway
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