Friends Central's DeAndre Hunter (above) has set three of his five official visits. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
It’s fitting that DeAndre Hunter’s establishing himself as a high-level prospect this summer was done rather under-the-radar.
That’s how the Friends’ Central (Pa.) senior wing prefers things. He’s not super-flashy or a big talker, staying fairly quiet on Twitter even as high-major after high-major extended offers.
While others in his position soak up the spotlight and media attention whenever they can get it, Hunter prefers to stay to himself, discussing his recruiting with a close group of family and friends and lying low beyond that.
“I don’t really like letting people know my business like that,” he said.
Wednesday afternoon was the first open gym workout of Hunter’s senior year, and the 6-foot-7, 190-pound wing certainly showed why he raked in 15 offers since July alone, from some of the top programs in the country: Notre Dame, Georgetown, Villanova, Maryland, UConn and more.
Schools in the SEC, Pac-12, Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, AAC, Big East and Mountain West have all extended scholarships.
And now he’s starting to narrow his options down.
Hunter confirmed that he’s planned three official visits, with two dates set in stone: Oklahoma State (Sept. 18) and Notre Dame (Oct. 11), along with a visit to Miami (Fl.) on Oct. 2 “or sometime around that period.”
While he said that he’s not necessarily taking a fourth and fifth visit, he mentioned three other high-majors that could also get an official visit before he makes his decision.
Local schools Villanova and St. Joe's, which were included in a final 11 schools he announced in mid-August, are still on the table as well.
“I’m considering Maryland and Virginia, for my fourth and fifth (visits),” he said. “They’re all still in the mix, but I don’t really know if I’m visiting. I might visit Alabama, I’m not sure.”
Hunter said a decision could happen anytime, but he is looking to commit and sign his National Letter of Intent during the early signing period in November.
“Bonding with the teammates, seeing a place I could fit, the coach has a good plan for me and having a good relationship with the coaches and the players.
Oklahoma State has been on Hunter’s recruitment the longest, offering him last August, and he said while many of the schools were pushing for October dates, OK State wanted to bring him on campus a little earlier.
Last year, the eighth under head coach Travis Ford, the Cowboys went 18-14 (8-10 Big 12) but still managed to get into the NCAA Tournament as a 9-seed, where they lost to Oregon in the Round of 64.
“I just like the program, they have been getting players in the league and coach said he has a good plan for me, so I like the school,” he said.
Notre Dame, by contrast, only offered Hunter in August, after a strong summer with Philly Pride on the Under Armour circuit in which he led the team in scoring (14.0 ppg) and rebounding (5.2 rpg) against high-major competition.
The Fighting Irish are coming off their fifth NCAA appearance in six years under head coach Mike Brey, who’s taken Notre Dame to the dance 10 times in his 15 years at the school. This year was his most successful yet, as he guided the Irish to 32 wins and an Elite 8 appearance.
“I saw them play a lot this year, I like the way they play,” Hunter said. “They got Pat Connaughton and Jerian Grant to the league this year and they won the ACC, so I mean just playing for one of the best teams in the ACC would be good.”
Hunter saw a lot of similar characteristics in Miami (Fl.), which has been high on his list since they offered back in April.
“Basically the same things,” he said. “I saw them play, I like the way they play. They got a lot of players to the NBA.”
After missing his entire sophomore season due to a broken leg, Hunter had a lot of work to do to catch up to several of his classmates to regain his status he’d had as one of the top prospects in the area as a freshman.
He certainly looked like he was getting back on the path during a junior season that saw him lead the Friends’ League in scoring (21.6 ppg), but it wasn’t until this summer that he felt like he was back to normal, and the offers flowed in.
“When I first got hurt, I didn’t know if I would (get heavily recruited),” he said. “People were saying ‘you’re going to come back stronger,’ but in my mind I honestly didn’t know. But after seeing my progress over the year and seeing what I saw could do, it feels really good."