Georgia State men’s basketball coach Ron Hunter took a few minutes on Thursday to recap his team’s summer workouts.
The Panthers went 16-14 last season, 9-11 in the Sun Belt Conference.
The team lost Kevin Ware, T.J. Shipes and Markus Crider, while adding Willie Clayton, Devin Mitchell, D’Marcus Simonds and Chris Clerkley.
The squad returns leading scorer Jeremy Hollowell, as well as Jeff Thomas, Malik Benlevi, Austin Donaldson, Isaiah Williams and Isaiah Dennis, among others.
Hunter’s answers have been paraphrased in most instances.
Q: How have the freshmen looked?
A: D’Marcus is talented. No secret about that. You can see why he’s a top-100 recruit. He just has to learn to play on the college level. We are just trying to figure out what his natural position is going to be.
He reminds me of George Hill, who I coached at IUPUI.
I’ve gone back and looked at how we brought George along. They share a lot of qualities I like.
I’m trying to get George and D’Marcus to talk on the phone because they have some qualities that are alike.
Q: Which are?
A: They are both explosive off the ball screen. George was a combo guard who learned to play the point, which I think D’Marcus is.
Q: If you had to play tomorrow, who would be in the starting five?
A: I knew you were going to ask this.
There is competition everywhere. Probably biggest surprise is Malik (Benlevi). It’s been amazing to see his development.
Malik and Jeff (Thomas) are fighting.
Point guards, Austin (Donaldson) is playing well. He’s fighting with D’Marcus.
Devin on the wing, he’s a guy who is fighting for a position.
We’d probably have Jeremy, Willie, Malik, Devin, and D’Marcus, Isaiah Williams or Austin.
Q: How has the new practice arena helped?
A: It’s been great. We don’t have to travel all over the place. It’s elevated our program. This time last year I’m practicing at Tech, Clark, Morehouse or the rec center.
We don’t have to run all over the city to practice. It’s been great.
Q: I’ve heard that Jeremy Hollowell has slimmed down. How has he looked?
A: Last year, Jeremy came off the back injury. You can’t do anything. Then he’s coming off a year where he didn’t play.
He (now) looks like the guy I remember. Looks like the best tlayer in our program. Looks a like a Big 10 player who transferred into our program. Looks like Jeremy we had the year when R.J. was here and he was sitting out.
Q: How are your new assistant coaches adjusting?
A: I had 2 guys that were my really good friends and really good coaches. They did a lot to build the program
I added two studs.
Ray (McCallum), what he brings is unmatched.
The intangibles that Sharman brings is winning. He knows nothing but winning.
I love where we are at.
We didn’t take one step backward by losing our guys.
Then you add Claude (Pardue) with his experience.
I absolutely love this staff.