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#KU50: 35 Cedric Hunter

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35 days until Kansas basketball!

The 2012 ESPY Awards - Backstage & Audience Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

In a lot of ways, Cedric Hunter is one of the most underrated players in KU history. Playing with Danny Manning will do that, obviously, but when discussing the KU teams of the mid-80s, guys like Ron Kellogg, Calvin Thompson, and Greg Dreiling come up more often. To rectify this, I am going to perhaps give Cedric Hunter too much credit when I say the season before the 6-foot guard from Omaha arrived, Kansas was just 13-16, and by the time he left, Kansas was a Final Four team.

Hunter ranks 3rd in KU history in assists, leading the Big 8 in that category in both 1986 and 1987. Although his turnover per game numbers were a bit unsightly towards the end of his career (4.3 per game as a senior), his advanced stats paint a much kinder picture. Hunter had a turnover rate of just 21.3 percent as a senior (though it was right around 25 percent for his career), while keeping up his stellar passing.

The other knock on Hunter is he wasn’t much of a scorer. While that is somewhat true (9.5 ppg for his career), he showed he could score when needed (16.5 ppg as a senior) and frankly when you have a Danny Manning on your team you probably shouldn’t be shooting too much. When he did shoot, he made it count, shooting roughly 54 percent for his career. He also was quite a rebounder for his size as well, averaging over 6 per game for his career. In fact, his senior season stat line is one of my favorites in KU history: 16.5 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, 8.7 assists per game. Talk about well rounded. One might say he was Frank Mason before Frank Mason.

Cedric Hunter didn’t enjoy much pro success, but his arrival at Kansas corresponded with the rejuvenation of the basketball program. I said at the start of this that team success doesn’t matter in this ranking absent special circumstances, but helping take Kansas from where it was at the start of his career to where it was when his career finished certainly qualifies in my book.