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Myers shows off his smarts and skills

4/25/2012

Last weekend in Las Vegas, Hunter Myers (Minden, Nev./Douglass) won me over. I caught him almost inadvertently one game and then had to return the next day to see him again. It turned out to be a good decision.

To me, Myers was the best player I’d never heard of prior to the Pangos Spring Spectacular and adidas VIP Run. He was a first-team all-stater in Nevada last year and averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds -- modest numbers in a non-traditional basketball state.

The 6-foot-7 prospect could be generously called a combo-forward. He’s not a very tall 6-7 and that puts him into the tweener category, which sometimes is a tough label to shake and that’s why I’m not going to slap it on him. The kid is a player.

Myers, a deceptive athlete whom I witnessed dunk with both hands, has an awesome perimeter touch to 3-point range. He’s not worried about contact and knocked down midrange shots. Over the course of two games, I saw a prospect with small forward skills and size, but defensively, he’s more apt to guard power forwards. His feel for the game, passing ability and most importantly level of competitiveness struck me.

Myers is no Dennis Rodman. Zero tattoos. He’s not Gordon Heyward. The player who came to mind was Kyle Singler. Not because he’s white and he doesn't have the same body type. To me, he played like the former Duke standout. Always around the ball, a threat from different spots on the perimeter and valued competing. I’m not getting carried away; Singler was a top-5 player in his class. Myers is a top-75 prospect in his. I’m only replicating a mental picture of what I saw. Not everyone would see it this way either. There were mixed opinions on him.

With my curiosity peaked, I strolled over to Myers and chatted him up. Boy, that was a good call. In two minutes, he unlocked a bunch of windows into who he is. What I learned is that he’s more than merely the best basketball player at Douglas High. “I’m No. 1 in my class and I’m averaging a 4.5 GPA,” Myers said.

One Ivy League assistant, who’s seen his transcript, remarked that it might be the best he'd ever seen! “To say this guy’s high-level academically, that’s an understatement and doesn’t do justice to his academics,” another assistant added.

Well, it shouldn’t be long before Vanderbilt, Stanford, Northwestern, Harvard, Princeton and any other elite academic institution inserts itself into his recruitment. From my standpoint, you might want to include BCS basketball programs too. Granted, I saw him twice, but he does so many things that translate to the next level.

Allow me to add this as food for thought. While myself and college recruiters sit in the stands eyeballing the best talent in the nation for high-profile teams, Myers will run with the Nevada Wolverines. They aren’t a big shoe-sponsored team and have zero national reputation. That’s perfect! With a little luck this should be a kid who doesn’t get spoiled by the system or overexposed. Who knows, maybe he’ll even enter college with something to prove (novel concept, I know).

Furthermore, Myers has some pretty athletic bloodlines. His grandfather is Marv Dunphy, the head volleyball coach at Pepperdine and a hall of famer who has had a big hand is USA’s Olympic program. Myers’ father was on the U.S. National water polo team and Hunter is the family's first basketball player.

“When I was little, people said I was tall and asked me if I played basketball,” Myers said. “I had the Little Tikes hoop and started playing basketball.”

Myers may not be for everyone. If you’re looking for the lengthy, uber athlete to protect the rim, don’t bother. That kind of guy isn’t who he is and just might be the sort that gives him trouble. “The biggest obstacle will be guarding the 3” Myers said. “There’s a lot of athletes out there and I have to work on my quickness to be able to guard them.”

Nevada, UC-Davis, Idaho and California were the schools that came early to the party. My guess is there will be more.

“I’m just playing the game and seeing who shows up,” Myers said. “This is the time of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”