Bells and whistles are nice, but when it came to recruiting the daughter of a coach, Dawn Staley and South Carolina women’s basketball kept the focus mostly on the court last month with top-30 recruit Treasure Hunt.
That’s the way Keisha Hunt, Treasure’s mother and coach at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, liked it.
“They made us feel at home ... they spoke very clearly with Treasure about what would be expected of her academically and her work ethic, and that they would guide her along and help her reach goals, but didn’t paint this dreamland too that she’s just gonna walk in there and be a star,” Keisha Hunt told The State earlier this month. “You know, they’re really honest, down to earth coaches. I really respect them for that.”
Treasure Hunt, ranked 28th in the 2020 class by ESPN and 15th by Prospects Nation, is a highly-coveted 6-foot-2 wing prospect. After announcing her final five schools of South Carolina, Kentucky, Auburn, Baylor and Mississippi State in September, she canceled her visit and eliminated Mississippi State, Keisha Hunt said.
At South Carolina on her first official visit, Hunt took notice of a particular detail that impressed her mother.
“She liked the practices, how intense the practices were (and) the knowledge that coach Staley and really all the coaches have,” Keisha Hunt said. “One thing she’s noticed at every official is practice players. You know, she said South Carolina’s had the best practice players so far. ... And I said, ‘Why are you even paying attention to that?’ She said, ‘Because that’s where we’re going to get challenged in practice.’ So she’s looking more for the basketball side of things.”
It’s common for women’s basketball programs to bring in male players for practices. The men often played in high school and provide the women with challenging size and speed. And it’s not unusual at South Carolina for former players to stop by and train with the team in practices as well — A’ja Wilson, Tiffany Mitchell, Khadijah Sessions and more have all suited over the past few years to practice against the Gamecocks.
But Hunt’s focus on basketball doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll just go to the program with the best chance of winning, Keisha Hunt said. It’s more about “the knowledge and (what) she’s a good fit for.”
To that point, South Carolina’s pitch to Treasure mostly revolved around her multi-faceted skillset — she averaged 19.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.3 steals per game last season against a tough schedule, and this summer on the travel circuit, she was one of the top players on a team stuffed with Power 5 prospects.
With her size and shooting ability, Hunt could be used at multiple positions, Staley told her and her mother. Much like current freshman Brea Beal provides the Gamecocks versatility, Hunt’s greatest strength could be her flexibility.
“They were very excited about her scoring ability. She’s a versatile player, you know, so she might be ... maybe a three, sometimes a stretch four depending on the situation,” Keisha Hunt said.
“She wants to be a two, she’s got to be able to play defense as a two. But they really liked her scoring, and they said they’ll teach her the right technique for the defense, which I think when Treasure gets beat, her technique isn’t good, but she’s willing to work hard and get better at it.”
As a coach’s kid, Hunt is not basing her choice on where she’ll get the most minutes right away either.
“She does want to play right away, but she also wants to have some established stuff around her,” Keisha Hunt said. “She understands that’s not a given, you know, doesn’t matter how successful you are in high school. You’re back at ground zero in college and you gotta work for everything you get.”
Keisha Hunt added that the timeline for a commitment would be right around the end of October, after both she and Treasure both had time to rest and talk over their options. Going to Kentucky would give Treasure the opportunity to play with former teammate Rhyne Howard, but Keisha made it clear South Carolina is still very much in the running.
“The South Carolina trip went really well. She knows that coach Staley really knows what she’s talking about, she knows that coach Staley is a competitor and she wants her players to be competitors, and career-wise she knows that it would be a good move to go to South Carolina,” Keisha Hunt said.