Anthony (Jo Jo) Hunter, one of the most highly recruited basketball players to come out of the Washington, D.C., area, said he transfered from Maryland this year because he felt he had't been allowed to play "his game" and that coach Lefty Driesell tried to change his style.
"It's nothing personal against Coach Driesell. He's a first-class citizen off the court," said Hunter, a former A11-America at Mackin High School. "You're not going to find too many former Maryland players who didn't like Lefty. He's a good person and treats his players well.
"But there were times last season I just felt I should have been playing. I was often compared to (John) Lucas, but we don't play the same stlye," said Hunter.
"I think I had two good years at Maryland. But the coach tried to change my style of play. I wasn't accustomed to doing. I did try because I wanted to fit in. But after while I felt I was just out there on the court - doing nothing."
Hunter, who said this week he was transfering to Colorado, turned down more than 500 offers after averaging 38.0 points his senior year in high school to sign with Maryland. Hunter wanted to stay close to home and his chances of stepping in and playing right away were excellent because Maryland's starting guards John Lucas and Mo Howard were leaving.
Hunter averaged between 15-20 minutes and 10 points per game in two years at Maryland. But the flashy one-on-one artist with the slick playground moves said he placed additional pressure on himself trying to live up to reputation he earned during high school.
"There's a lot of pressure in the ACC," said Hunter. "I didn't think I would ever sit on the bench.And when I did, I didn't like it. "When I did play, I know I did the best I could."
Hunter's sophomore season was marked by inconsistent performances, a one-game suspension for not agreeing to enter the game as a substitute and an academic probation. Some also suggested Hunter was a disruptive factor on the 15-13 squad, a charge he rejects.
"He was unhappy," Driesell said. "I don't think there was a problem between us. He just felt he wasn't playing enough and he had a few personal problems. The change probably will be best for him. I didn't try to change his mind about leaving, and his transferring didn't surprise me."
Hunter said most of the past season was filled with internal bickering among the Maryland players, and some disorganization on the court.
"There were some changes we felt we could have made to be a better team," said Hunter. "We had team meetings and ironed out our problems but no one, including the captains (Larry Gibson and Lawrence Boston), would go to Lefty.
"I know I wasn't going."
"Lefty has his way of doing things and he's set in his ways. We used the same press against Duke three times and it didn't work," Hunter continued. "Lefty recruits the best players in the nation and we had one of the best teams around. Things just didn't work out Lefty's way. But it looked like it was our fault only."
Driesell has lost three area players in the last two seasons. Guards Brian Magid (Blair) transferred to GW and James Tillman (Eastern) went to Eastern Kentucky.
"I'd recommend local players to go to Maryland if they were prepared to fit the role you have to play. There are a lot of good players at Maryland and it's tough," said Hunter. "But the players, and they're good players, left because they felt they weren't being used to their potential.
"I feel the same way."
Several Interhigh league coaches said they have never tried to steer any of their players to Maryland because they felt Driesell didn't show any interest.
"He's never approached me about anyone. He gives me the impression he doesn't think Interhigh players are good enough for Maryland," said Spingarn Coach John Wood. "We have kids with good grades and ability. I don't know if the black players are being exploited over there or not. I know many don't graduate, or stay long."
Dunbar Coach Joe Dean Davidson said Driesell showed some interest in Craig Shelton and John Duren (both now at Georgetown), but never pressed.
"Maybe I've never had anyone he really wanted," said Davidson. "On the other hand, I haven't had any kids who wanted to go to Maryland."
Driesell rejected the suggestion he was down on city basketball, saying, "I go after the best players in the nation. I can't remember how many D.C. players I've tried to sign. It doesn't matter to me where they're from."
Hunter, said the year he must sit out, because of the transfer rule, will help him. "I can look at myself, the program and my future," he said.
"I can't blame anyone for my problems. You get out of school only what you put in it.The work is on you," he said. "Players today are in college to play basketball, not to excel in academics.
"Black players are especially free-spirited and have some trouble adjusting to Driesell's system. Even if you have a reputation for being a gunner or an undisciplined player, he'll recruit you anyway. Lefty feels it's better to try to change your style than have to play against you.
"Times have changed, players have changed," he continued. "Coach Driesell has to be bend a little.