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Clemson Basketball

Family's support helped Clemson's Chase Hunter 'stay the course' in Tiger Town

February 10, 2022
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Clemson guard Chase Hunter averaged 12 points and 60 percent from beyond the arc in a four-game hot streak but has only managed 4.5 points and 0-4 on three-pointers in consecutive losses to Georgia Tech and North Carolina. 

In the losses, he also averaged four assists, 5.5 rebounds, and shutdown perimeter scorers Michael Devoe (Georgia Tech) and Caleb Love (UNC). Devoe, the third-leading scorer (18.6) in the ACC and fresh off a 30-point outburst against Virginia Tech, was held to three points, and Love, the Tarheels' second-leading scorer at 15 ppg, to 10 points.

His defense was even better when examined further.

In four previous games against Clemson, Devoe averaged 19.8 points, and Love's final five points were scored on other Tigers. Hunter also stopped Love's final drive to force the pass to forward Brady Manek, who scored the winning basket in UNC's 79-77 win. 

While everyone was focused and excited about his 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and string of double-figure scoring games after the 71-69 loss to Duke in Cameron Indoor, Hunter was focused on defense. 

"Really, on the defensive end," he noted as an area of focus moving forward. "I would say I made some mistakes in these last few games that probably people really don't notice. But it's something I've been trying to work on. It's really off-ball defense, not falling asleep and maybe leaving my man open."

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell talked about Hunter's improvement on defense and his other abilities that night as well. 

“He is a great athlete. He has a really good feel for basketball,” Brownell stated after the Duke loss. “He can pass the ball. He can be our third point guard if we need one. He sometimes can show that with the way he passes. His defense has improved tremendously since his freshman year and now his confidence has come with it.

Hunter has shown it all lately, scoring, passing, rebounding, defense, including his first collegiate dunk in Cameron Indoor and an acrobatic layup versus FSU.

"I feel very proud," said Brandi Hunter-Lewis, Chase's mom, of his recent success. "I've watched him handle adversity and push through it and so it's a very good feeling to see him relishing in the space that he rightfully should be in."

The former Westlake High (Atlanta, GA) standout started his first four career games in a Clemson uniform until a foot injury eventually sidelined him for 22 games. He was slowed the following year by a broken finger, that required surgery, but he played through it.

Brandi and Chase's father, Brice Hunter, are former Georgia Bulldogs athletes. Brandi played basketball from 1993-97 and was on two Final Four teams (1995, 1996) and Brice, a wide receiver (1992-95), is the all-time leader in single-season receptions (76) in Bulldogs football history. 

Brandi is familiar with the ups and downs on the court and she's dealt with adversity outside of the sports arena. On April 19, 2004, Brice was tragically killed making her a single mom of three young sons, Jaden (5), Chase (3), and Dillon (1). 

She saw Hunter down and discouraged, at times, while he struggled with injuries and was not happy with his play, but she continued to encourage him and always told him to 'stay the course' and 'stay ten toes down.'

Hunter said the coaching staff's belief in him helped get him through the tough times but gives the most credit to his family. 

"It was my family," he recalled. "I stayed in touch with my family a lot. They always called me trying to check in on me to make sure I was doing good. So, I would say my parents, my brothers. They always stuck by me, and they kept me going."

They also didn't hesitate to pass along basketball commentary. 

"Being a former player and just knowing the game of basketball and also just knowing his capability, I'm definitely able to give him constructive criticism which he receives well from me and my husband, who is also a great influence on Chase as well," said Brandi, who married husband, Ryan Lewis, in 2017. "So, yeah, we definitely don't hold back in terms of those things we know he can do differently to improve on his plays out there."

"I hope I have played some small part," said Brownell as he called Hunter's journey, an example of Clemson Grit, the team's slogan. "But it is mostly him hanging in there and just doing the work every day and believing and not giving in, which is what a lot of people do right now."

Brandi thanks Brownell and staff for continuing to believe in Hunter and like Brownell, she acknowledges what Hunter did amid the hardships. 

"I can appreciate the coaching staff [for] just sticking with him, and Chase for showing the mental fortitude to stick with it, when it got tough. He put in the work and stuck with it."

She is a prime example herself of someone who stuck with it through adversity. Hunter needs only to look at the accomplishments of his mom to know that staying the course with ten toes down can pay off.

Today, she's a very successful real estate agent for Compass and past clients include Kandi Burruss, a member of Xscape and television personality, and celebrity couple Offset and Cardi B, both well-known rappers.

She has spent 18 years in the real estate industry all while raising Hunter, Jaden, who spent two years as a linebacker at his parents' alma mater before transferring to Western Kentucky, and Dillon, a high school senior signed to play basketball at Baylor University. 

Brandi worked hard to achieve her success and sees nothing but a bright future for her son. 

"So I'm just excited. I'm elated to see what he's done, and I know he's only scratched the surface. You will see a lot more from Chase Hunter."

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Family's support helped Clemson's Chase Hunter 'stay the course' in Tiger Town

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