Sunday, July 6, 2003

Hunter faces size questions yet again


College basketball insider

This summer Brandon Hunter has to prove he can play power forward - again. An undersized post player in college at 6 feet 7, Hunter will be dwarfed by the NBA "trees" when he begins summer camp next week with the Boston Celtics, the team that selected him 56th in the NBA draft June 26.

Hunter said he will approach summer camp as he did at the Chicago pre-draft camp, with the attitude that he has to use his strength to overpower taller players. Although most NBA general managers knew Hunter was strong, seeing him put his upper-body advantage to work in Chicago quite possibly put Hunter solidly on the draft board.

"I had a lot to prove," said Hunter, who played four years at Ohio University following a standout career at Withrow High School. "I really helped myself in Chicago."

Now, Hunter wants to become a presence in Boston. He likens his game to a blend of Corliss Williamson, Anthony Mason and Malik Rose, all undersized forwards who have made careers out of out-working opponents for rebounds. Rose, at 6-6, recently helped San Antonio to the NBA title by guarding larger players, including Shaquille O'Neal, throughout the playoffs.

"You can't measure heart," Hunter said. "I definitely have expectations. I want to go in and play minutes and grab rebounds."

Hunter considered turning pro after his junior season but returned for a fourth year, playing for second-year coach Tim O'Shea. The two personalities didn't always mesh, however, and it took a while for Hunter to become comfortable with O'Shea.

"We had to understand each other," Hunter said. "Once we got that together, we started winning."

More like Hunter started rebounding. He led the nation with 13.0 rebounds a game this past season.

"It makes it worth it, coming back," Hunter said. "It proved I had NBA skill."

Hunter hasn't signed a contract yet. Second-round picks are not guaranteed any deals. He will have to sign a relatively low rookie deal, but Hunter holds out hope that with a good year or two, he'll set himself up for a lucrative free agent contract in his third or fourth year in the league.

"A lot can change in two years," Hunter said. "I'm going to have to keep proving myself. Just like Malik Rose."

JACKSON TUNING UP: Xavier's Keith Jackson has been a regular at the Deveroes Summer League. Besides throwing down stylish dunks with more freedom in the summer, he said he's trying to work on his shooting range. That improved slightly last season but remained an issue at times.

"I'm working on it," Jackson said. "I'm just practicing and trying not to rush things."

Prior to last season, XU coaches worked with Jackson on his release, and it resulted in better accuracy. Now, as a junior who will compete for a starting job, he wants to turn that into a consistent jumper.

CHALMERS CAMPING: To test himself against some of college basketball's best players, Lionel Chalmers has attended one elite summer camp so far in Florida and has plans to hit at least two more before the summer is over. He is finalizing plans for the Nike camp as well as a Las Vegas camp in August.

COACH SCOOTER: North Carolina State senior Scooter Sherrill helped coach campers at Xavier's Thad Matta Basketball School last week. Xavier associate head coach Sean Miller recruited Sherrill when Miller was an assistant at N.C. State. Meanwhile, Miller's younger brother, Archie Miller, a former N.C. State standout and administrative assistant, has landed at Western Kentucky as an assistant coach to Darrin Horn. There is one Matta camp remaining this summer, July 28-31.

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E-mail ddow@enquirer.com




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