One of Tom Crean’s final recruiting visits as Indiana basketball coach was to see Tindley junior Eric Hunter play in the Class A regional championship Saturday night in Martinsville.
On the surface, the 6-3 Hunter appeared to be exactly the type of recruit Crean coveted when he arrived at Indiana nine years ago: an explosive Indianapolis guard who is likely, barring injury, to end his high school career as the leading scorer in Marion County history.
But while Butler, Purdue, Creighton, Minnesota, Nebraska and Xavier were among the schools to offer Hunter a scholarship, Indiana was not. Hunter had been in touch with Indiana assistant Tim Buckley, but wasn’t clear where exactly he stood with Indiana in the recruiting process.
“I couldn’t say we had a solid relationship,” Hunter said. “It was on and off. (Crean) came into open gym during the school year and we texted back and forth but (Martinsville) was the first time he’d ever seen me play.”
Perhaps a bigger issue, from a perception standpoint, is that it Indiana’s lukewarm interest didn’t bother Hunter. He said he’s developed strong relationships with the coaches at Butler, Purdue, Creighton and Nebraska and said other programs like Maryland and Wake Forest have been showing increased interest. He is ranked as the No. 106 prospect in the 2018 class in the 247sports national composite rankings.
Hunter is averaging 26.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game this season as he leads Tindley (22-5) into a Class A semistate at Richmond on Saturday against New Washington (20-9). He has 1,805 career points, which could put him in position to rank in the top-five all-time by this time next year.
Hunter said the Indiana coaches invited him to a campus a few times for games, but his schedule didn’t mesh. But he added that it felt like “a distant relationship” compared to other schools recruiting him.
“It was way different,” he said. “Not even close. I’m not going to say IU hasn’t tried to get me there and (Buckley) saw me at Manual for the Fort Wayne North game.”
Hunter is curious to see who will replace Crean at Indiana, although he said he’s far enough down the road in recruiting now that he already has a strong pool of schools after him.
“Growing up in Big Ten country, I’m right smack dab in the middle of it,” Hunter said. “But for me (Indiana’s interest) is not that big of a thing. I just grew up liking basketball, period. If they are interested, they are interested. If they’re not, they’re not. It’ll never be the end of the world for me with any school.”
Hunter said he’s in no rush to make a decision.
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.