Marcus-Georges Hunt is right at home.
From the Gateway Center Arena, he’s minutes away from his the place he made a name for himself on the basketball court. Eleven minutes down the street is North Clayton High School, which is where he attended. A little over 20 minutes down is Georgia Tech, where he played college ball for four years.
He’s played on the Orlando Magic and saw himself getting playoff minutes with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
After that, Hunt made a major move and took his basketball talents 7,709 miles across the country to play overseas in China.
“Playing overseas in China was a great experience,” Hunt said. “I learned a lot, and a lot about their culture. But being able to be back home in front of family and friends and my kids, is a blessing honestly. Being able to play pro basketball, and in your own town. You couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Hunt played for the Guangzhou Loong Lions from 2019-2020 and the Jiangsu Dragons and Sichuan Blue Whales from 2020-2021. Even though he says China was a great experience, it was also a much different scene from playing basketball in the United States – starting with practice.
“Practices are different. Sometimes you have two crazy practices that you go hard in both. Some you may have two practices where one is chill and the second one is just a lot of shots. It’s all about the coaching I think, and the type of coach you receive. You may have a military-type style, or you may have a laid-back style that helps you understand your body and recovering.”
One thing that’s noticeable overseas is the high-scoring games, and Hunt had the pleasure to be a part of that group when he erupted for 68 points for the Sharks in 2021.
Even with that many points, he still wasn’t the leading scorer in the game, as Jimmer Fredette scored 70.
“I was coming off the bench. I didn’t start. I was just going with the flow of the game. If you pay attention to my game, I’m not looking to force anything, I’m not looking to do anything out of my character. I’m all about being efficient and solid. Shooting the right shots, knowing when to pass, that’s always been my game.”
Some current NBA players spent their time playing overseas, such as P.J. Tucker and LaMelo Ball. Former NBA guard Brandon Jennings was one of the first Americans to go from high school to overseas. One thing all those players would probably say is that overseas is a grind, much different from NBA.
“It’s sweeter over here [NBA] but over there it’s just a different grind,” Hunt said. It makes you even hungrier. I feel like, in all honesty, a lot of players overseas can play in the NBA, it’s just limited roster spots over here. It’s about timing.”
With Hunt having ample time to work on his game overseas, the league was transforming into position-less basketball in the US, which wasn’t a bad thing for Hunt. When thinking of the small ball-fours currently in the league, Hunt sees some similarities within himself.
“I can see a similar path with P.J. Tucker,” Hunt said. “Just hard nose and grind. And another one Jae Crowder. I had the opportunity to play with Crowder my rookie year when I went to Boston [Celtics] training camp. Those two knock down open threes, play defense, score in transition, and are just really efficient. They both bring a lot of fire to the team, that dog.”
Not only has Hunt been able to play with Crowder, but was also a teammate of Jimmy Butler when he was on the Timberwolves.
Back then, Hunt was the young guy and had veterans to look up to, but now the script is flipped and he’s teaching the players on the Skyhawks things that he’s learned, especially when it comes to treating your body.
“With recovery, some of the stuff that I bring to the gym, they’re like ‘what is that?’ The strength and conditioning coach is like ‘you have that tool?’ That comes from being overseas and learning what my body needs and the type of gadgets I need to recover faster or have a quick turnaround time.”
Being the hometown kid, of course, Hunt went to Georgia Tech, where he played from 2012-2016. He hasn’t forgotten about the guys that came after him and are currently in the league.
“When I go back, I speak to them. I’ve been watching Jose Alvarado from afar and Moses Wright, who just signed a two-way with the Dallas Mavericks. Those guys put in the work and it’s showing, and I couldn’t be happier for them because it’s a grind.”
Since the All-Star break, the Skyhawks have been playing better on both sides of the ball. To finish the season, the goal is simple for Hunt: stay in the present.
“Stay together, take one day at a time, and not look at the schedule,” Hunt said. Take it one day at a time and attack each day. You have to live in the now and don’t look forward. The goal is playoffs. Everybody wants to make it to the playoffs, but one day at a time. Everything else will take care of itself.”