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Love of basketball, family carries R.J. Hunter's NBA dreams

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Love of basketball, family carries R.J. Hunter's NBA dreams

Georgia State guard R.J. Hunter, one-half the father-son duo that sprung their own version of March Madness upon the college basketball world in Jacksonville, will spend Thursday just where you would imagine. No, not in Brooklyn, site of the 2015 NBA Draft, but in Atlanta with his family.

Yet it was in Toronto where the shooting star realized the reach of their NCAA Tournament experience. The 6-foot-6 wing threat with deep range, mounds of charisma and a puncher's chance at becoming a lottery pick explained it all in Washington Tuesday afternoon. The projected first-round selection's final workout ahead of Thursday's draft took place with the Wizards.

"I think this my 10th and final (workout). I'm starting to lose track of days and hours. I don't even know what day it is," Hunter joked with reporters.

Forgetting what city he's in upon first waking up, that's seems reasonable considering the amount of travel prospects endure during this month-long workout binge. Boston College combo guard Olivier Hanlan, another intriguing member of Tuesday's workout, revealed Washington was his 18th stop.

However, what day it is, that they know, at least this week. All the lifting, running, shooting and preparing leads up to Thursday's draft.

"You go through this whole workout process and you kind of get days where you're stalemating yourself. You're trying to figure out what's really going on," Hunter said of the pre-draft process. "Trying to take care of the little things 'cause if you start trying to control the bigger things you'll stress yourself out. It's been a fun process, traveling from city to city."

The 21-year-old with starter's potential noted a significant upside. 

"No summer school, no class. That's the best part of it for real for me."

The best parts of Hunter's game - basketball instincts and perimeter shot - carried other small-school stars all the way to the NBA and then some.

"I think the (small school) guys you're talking about just know how to play. I think that's definitely a strength of mine," Hunter said. "The guys just work hard. The guys that stay in this league are always in the gym, the guys who love it. That's an attribute I have, that I've always had, work hard.

"And it's a shooters league now and a lot of these small school guys can shoot, guys like Steph Curry, C.J. McCollum. I think that's another attribute I can bring."

[MORE WIZARDS: DeMarcus Cousins drops the emoji hammer amid trade buzz]

Ignore Hunter's 29.8% clip from beyond the arc during his junior season and focus on his range and shooting touch (88.7 FT %). Opposing defenses sent double teams and geared schemes toward stopping the eventual two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year. Tasked with leading the attack, Hunter admitted to careless choices at times. "Good players see good defenses so there is no excuses for that. I just think I didn't make enough shots."

Hunter will have plenty of room to roam should he land with the Wizards and therefore play alongside point guard John Wall, whose passing skills make shooting easier for teammates.

"A lot easier," Hunter stated. "He's a guy who gets [down] the court in 2.5 seconds and then is looking to dish. That's why Paul Pierce and Bradley Beal got so many open shots because of a guy like him. I think I can fit in with that."

Creating open shots is one. Having the players capable of sinking the jumpers is another. The Wizards need more help in this area.

Noting the league's trend toward creating perimeter space for shooters, Hunter exclaimed, "It's perfect for me right now and the right time to come in."

The Hunter's, R.J. and Ron, came into national prominence when the son capped a rally with a mammoth game-winning 3-pointer for an upset win over Baylor at the tourney site in Jacksonsville. The stunning nature of the comeback and buzzer-beater caused Ron, hobbled by a busted Achilles, to fall from his sideline chair and America to fall for the Hunter's.

Make that North America. In Toronto for a workout, a man came up to R. J. Hunter and told him, "Hey, good shot."

"That's how I knew March Madness put me on the map," Hunter said.

In Washington, the big guard with big guts explained why he wasn't heading to New York for Thursday's big day.

"I got the invitation, but I'd already been setting things (up) and I'd rather be around my family and friends and kind of do my own thing," Hunter said. 

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Jodie Meeks

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Jodie Meeks

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Jodie Meeks' season...

Player: Jodie Meeks

Position: Shooting guard

Age: 30

2017-18 salary: $3.3 million

2017-18 stats: 77 G, 14.5 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.9 FG%, 34.3 3P%, 86.3 FT%, 49.1 eFG%, 111 ORtg, 112 DRtg

Best game: 11/29 at Sixers - 21 points, 4 rebounds, assist, steal, 5-for-11 FG, 3-for-6 3PT, 8-for-9 FT

Season review: The Wizards took a flier on Jodie Meeks last summer in what seemed at the time to be a low-risk contract with a potentially high reward, if he could stay healthy and play to his career norms. They were in obvious need of help at backup shooting guard and three-point shooting for their bench.

Meeks fell short of those expectations for a variety of reasons. Though he stayed healthy for the first time in years, he could not make shots at the clip the Wizards were hoping for. His field goal percentage was not far off from what he posted in recent years, but his three-point percentage was nowhere near the 38.8 percent he shot in his previous four seasons.

Meeks bottomed out midseason, shooting 28.9 percent from three in December and 28 percent in January. Those numbers ticked up beginning in February, but Meeks never fully gained the trust of his coaching staff. He rarely got hot enough to alter games and his best stat-lines often came in blowouts. 

There was a domino effect from Meeks' struggles, as starting shooting guard Bradley Beal had no one to spell him. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any NBA player this season.

For Meeks personally, it was a bittersweet year because staying healthy was no small feat. He had a run of bad luck and finally broke out of it this season. On the other hand, he never made the impact he felt he was capable of and that wasn't easy for a guy joining a new team and a new locker room.

Meeks' 2017-18 season was ultimately defined by more than his shooting woes. First, he expressed interest in a trade in February and did not get his wish. Then, he was suspended for allegedy using performance-enhancing drugs after the regular season ended. He was out for the playoffs and will miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season without pay as he waits out a 25-game ban.

Meeks may or may not serve that suspension as a member of the Wizards. He has a player option for next season worth $3.5 million. He has yet to inform the team of his decision, but the expectation is that he will pick it up. Given how poorly his season went and ended, it would likely be the smart move financially for him to opt in and hope for better results next season.

Potential to improve: Shooting percentage, perimeter defense, passing

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

Tim Frazier, PG

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Tim Frazier's season...

Player: Tim Frazier

Position: Point guard

Age: 27

2017-18 salary: $2 million

2017-18 stats: 59 G, 14.2 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.5 FG%, 30.4 3P%, 76.7 FT%, 44.5 eFG%, 105 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 1/27 at Hawks - 4 points, 14 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2-for-5 FG

Season review: The Wizards tabbed Tim Frazier to be their backup point guard nearly a year ago when they sent a second round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans on the eve of draft night. They viewed Frazier as the solution to their years-long search for a capable backup behind John Wall. Frazier had thrived as a replacement starter in New Orleans and the Wizards saw him as worth a draft pick, even though he had just one year left on his contract.

Frazier began the season as the primary backup point guard, but ultimately lost the job to Tomas Satoransky once Wall went out with a left knee injury. Frazier became the starter and Satoransky the backup, but through two weeks Satoransky outplayed him and became No. 2 on the depth chart once Wall returned. Then, when Wall went down for months late in the season, Satoransky started and Frazier backed him up.

Frazier never found consistency as he moved back and forth between roles. His minutes, points and assists averages were all career-lows.

The Wizards added competition to their roster for Frazier and Satoransky midseason, first by signing Ramon Sessions in March and then adding Ty Lawson just before the playoffs began. That led to Frazier being inactive for four of the Wizards' six postseason games.

All in all, it was a frustrating year for Frazier. He even had to deal with a broken nose and surgery to repair it after getting inadvertently kneed in the face by Bobby Portis in a game against the Bulls in February.

Frazier has been part of small group of Wizards players continuing to work out at the team facility this summer. He has been there along with Wall, Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith. That said, it does seem likely Frazier returns given how the Wizards used him this season. He was completely out of the rotation for extended periods of time.

Helping his cause in that regard is that the Wizards have his Bird rights, meaning they can re-sign him while going above the salary cap. They currently have five open roster spots and not much money to spend. Frazier could represent a cheap option and help them fill out their roster.

Potential to improve: Shooting, on-ball defense, consistency

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!