In a season that’s been darker than any since SMU moved into the American Athletic Conference, freshman forward Feron Hunt has been a rare bright spot.
Hunt has flashed athleticism that translates on both ends throughout the season, but hasn’t put it together for full games. Sunday afternoon at South Florida, he did. The freshman nabbed career highs in points and rebounds, scoring 17 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to lead SMU to a 77-71 win over the Bulls.
While Hunt isn’t very skilled yet, he’s finding ways to impact the game with just his athleticism: flying in for offensive rebound putbacks and running the floor in transition. Even so, Hunt is showing the foundation of skills. He hit a corner catch-and-shoot 3-pointer, his seventh make of the year from beyond the arc, and went coast-to-coast on a fast break, dribbling past USF’s David Collins for a dunk.
Hunt is certainly a useful player right now, and might be one of SMU’s best, but combining those skills to his current athleticism will push him into the upper echelon of AAC players. If defenses have to respect his jumpshot, Hunt can use his quickness to blow by closing out defenders. An improved handle will allow him to be more of a focal point in SMU’s offense and help him clean up his turnovers. He committed four on Friday.
Aside from Hunt’s excellence, SMU played one of its better all-around games in the win. Each SMU player that played more than 10 minutes shot 50 percent or better, and the Mustangs’ sturdy 2-3 zone held USF to a 35 percent shooting performance. SMU was foul happy – the Bulls shot 32 free throws – but controlled the pace of the game well and never let it get too close.
SMU is locked into the 10-seed in the AAC Tournament, and USF’s loss means the Mustangs will be facing Tulsa in their opener on Thursday in Memphis. If they want to make a run, more games like this from Hunt will be key.