Eric Hunter Jr. had a rough junior season. He had a lower body injury just before the season that carried in through the season, he wasn’t technically injured through the season, but it was clear he never got a chance to fully recover. By the end of the season, it looked like he didn’t have his legs underneath him. His efficiency stats all took hits, stepping back dramatically from the season before.
He shot 27% from three after being north of 35% the season prior. Hunter’s counting stats don’t look terrible: 8.2 points, 2.8 assists, and 2.2 rebounds a game, but he didn’t look like a player that took the major step in play making and scoring that many expected.
But what Hunter Jr. did prove and show, despite the lower leg issues, was that he is an elite defensive guard. He’s a smart defender, quick, with his head constantly on a tilt, capable of both pressing into a defender up top and sticking with him through screens.
His offense has always been subtle. Capable of being a secondary or third shot maker, flashing some nifty mid-range game, but struggling to knock down the deep ball. His footwork is polished, but he struggles to finish and find space in crowded spaces and against elite defenders.
But he plays smart. Makes the next pass quickly, and has at times been an effective catch and shoot shooter. He’s a perfect foil for a ball dominant scoring guard like Jaden Ivey. His leadership has been consistent and he’s a calming presence, often times found on the best +/- lineups in a game.
With better health, a full off season, look for him to extend his offensive game and continue his dominance on defense. He should be a near lock for All Big-Ten Defensive team, carrying the moniker of great perimeter defenders previous at Purdue.
With a little bit of added efficiency on offense, he’ll become one of the quietest stars and best unknowns in college football. Look for him to make an All-Glue team if Purdue has the success they should.