LAS VEGAS – Feron Hunt would like to remain in a Dallas state of mind.

A proud 2018 graduate of DeSoto High School, Hunt played three years of college basketball at SMU before declaring for the NBA Draft last spring. Now, he would like nothing better than to remain in Dallas and have his pro career start with the Mavericks.

“That would be really big for me just because I’ve played all of my big basketball leagues in the state of Texas,” Hunt said following Sunday’s practice at the Paul McDermott Physical Education Complex. “So, me making the team would be a huge positive for me.

“I like (Mavs’ legend) Dirk Nowitzki a lot, as far as my favorite player. And yes, I am a Dallas Mavericks’ fan.”

For now, Hunt is a proud member of the Mavs’ summer league team. That team will play their first game in the MGM Resorts Summer League on Monday at 3 p.m. CDT against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Thomas & Mack Center.

A 6-8, 185-pound forward, Hunt has made some marked improvements in the five days since the Mavs started summer league practices.

“He’s had a great camp,” summer league coach Greg St. Jean said. “He has a live body, he’s an active cutter, and has a high IQ. He’s a really versatile athlete.

“I think his shot has gotten better and better. He’s made some construction changes to it since college.”

Those changes have been ongoing since the Mavs worked out Hunt before last month’s draft.

“He came in and did a draft workout for us, and he shot the ball decently doing that,” St. Jean said. “We’re going to continue to encourage him to be aggressive and be himself.

“But he’ll be playing and be a part of our rotation here in the next couple of days and we’re excited to have him.”

Obviously, the goal for Hunt is to make it to the NBA. And he has no regrets about going undrafted after playing three seasons at SMU.

“No, (declaring for the draft) was not a hard choice after talking to my mom and my family and my agent,” Hunt said. “We thought it was best for me to come out.”

And now that he’s a free agent, the first order of business for Hunt is to impress the Mavs with high intentions of making their final roster this fall.

“We have a great coaching staff here. . .and I’m just following what they think is best for me,” Hunt said. “I’m working on my all-round game. It’s a lot of take in.

“We’ve only been practicing for a week. It’s a huge transition from college to trying to learn all the sets and to be ready to play for the summer league team.”

The sage advice St. Jean afforded Hunt on his journey to the NBA is twofold.

“I think for all these guys it is to continue to work and figure out what is your game, and how can that translate to the next level,” St. Jean said. “Whether that’s the NBA, playing overseas, playing in the G League, whatever it is.

“When you’re playing professional basketball, you’re trying to find what is your game at the professional level. Most of the time that is how you get on the floor, and can you play defense and who can you guard?”

Hunt, thus far, has impressed St. Jean with his skill set. Yet, he wants to throw some more knowledge at him.

“For Feron, someone like him, we’re going to continue to challenge him to be aggressive defensively and versatile defensively, and offensively play within himself,” St. Jean said. “He’s somebody who’s done that so far. This is our fifth day of practice, and he did a good job today, too.”

At SMU last season, Hunt averaged 11.1 points and 7.9 rebounds and shot 56 percent from the field in 28.2 minutes per game. In 78 career games for SMU, he averaged 9.6 points and 6.8 rebounds and converted 55.7 percent of his field goals in 26.3 minutes per contest.

“That’s a great university and it’s kind of where I started to become a man,” Hunt said. “SMU will always hold a special place in my heart.”

So special that Hunt said with Texas and Oklahoma destined to leave the Big 12 Conference and move to the Southeastern Conference, he wouldn’t mind seeing SMU move up to the Big 12 Conference.

“If (SMU) go to the Big 12 that would be crazy,” Hunt said. “SMU, they can do it basketball-wise for sure, and football. I think they can compete in the Big 12.

“They’re always going to have a winning program and they’re always going to get good kids, because it’s in the city of Dallas. So they have a large variety of players to choose from.”

The Mavs also have a variety of players to choose from before they whittle their roster down to 17 to start the 2021-22 season. Hunt just wants to be in that number.

“He just needs to continue to stick to his strengths and stay away from his weaknesses,” St. Jean said. “And then we’ll continue to work on those.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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