If Purdue has a commitment playing near the Indianapolis area I like to take in at least one game before they end up on campus. Today was a golden opportunity to do so. Eric Hunter, the likely Indiana All-Star that led Indianapolis Tindley to a Class A State Championship last season was taking part in the Forum Credit Union Tip-off classic at Southport High School.
The event was a marquee one. It featured six games today with several of the top players in the Midwest taking part. Not only was Hunter involved from a Purdue perspective, but Keion Brooks of Fort Wayne North, the top player in Indiana in 2019, was taking on Romeo Langford of New Albany, the top player for 2019.
Coach Painter was there to see Brooks as well as Center Grove’s Trayce Jackson-Davis against Hamilton Southeastern’s Mabor Majok, a top 2020 player. That game took place just before Hunter’s game and HSE won 65-63 in overtime.
But I was there to see Hunter, and it was a great opportunity. His Class A No. 3 Tindley, already 3-1 on the season and averaging 82.8 points per game was taking on Class 4A’s McCutcheon, who was 4-1. McCutcheon also featured Robert Phinisee, who signed with Indiana. It may not have been the 1991 state title game when Glenn Robinson took on Alan Henderson, but it was an Indiana-Purdue matchup with plenty of Indiana partisans in the stands. IU fans also got to see Damezi Anderson and Jerome Hunter in the 5th game of the day with South Bend Riley taking on Pickerington Central.
Hunter and Phinisee did not disappoint, either. Phinisee started red hot and scored McCutcheon’s first 14 points. Tindley was the more complete team though. Although McCutcheon forced a 48-48 tie with 6:10 left Tindley never actually trailed.
Phinisee finished with 22 points on 7 of 14 shooting as well as 6 rebounds and at least 3 assists. He fouled out though with a pair of offensive fouls in the fourth quarter, the last of which came with 3:28 left and his team trailing 53-48. That left a pretty dull game the rest of the way. Tindley tried to run clock and hit free throws, while McCutcheon tried wild threes. In the end Tindley earned a very nice 63-58 win.
Hunter was slow to start in this one, but he had a big third quarter with 13 points. He finished the game with 25 points on 8 of 14 shooting, but was a promising 5 of 8 from three. He also had 7 rebounds, 2 emphatic blocks, and a handful of steals and assists.
It is interesting to describe Hunter’s game. He is not physically overpoweing, but had good size for a guard at 6’3”. He shot the ball with confidence, but he is not only a shooter. His best play didn’t even count. In the first quarter he made a move on the perimeter and dashed into the lane. As he blew past Phinisee the McCutcheon player reached in for the foul, but it didn’t even slow Hunter as he exploded for a two-handed dunk in traffic. The dunk didn’t count since the foul was on the floor, but it was impressive, no less.
Hunter was able to get to the basket on quite a few occasions, which was good considering that McCutcheon was throwing a funky 1-3-1 zone that was more intent on preventing him from getting the ball. It was effective in slowing down a high-powered offense for Tindley. Tindley had more weapons though.
As a team Tindley hit 11 threes with Joseph Johnson and Sincere McMahon each hitting three. McCutcheon only hit 7, and most of those were int he second half after Tindley beat a 31-24 halftime lead.
Overall I think Hunter will be a solid 4-year player. He is a versatile player that can both shoot and score the ball. I would say he is a smaller Terone Johnson with a better jump shot and more athleticism. He can score in bunches if needed, but today he showed that he did not need the ball every possession for his team to win. McMahon had 17 points and Johnson had 11, so he had plenty of help. He was still able to take over the game at times, too.
Given what Purdue loses after this season, Hunter will have a spot to play next season as an athletic, scoring guard.