Hunter is soft spoken. He comes off as modest, giving praise to the teammates he’s played with and coaches he has played for. He has an infectious smile. But once he takes the court, all that goes out the door. The relentless version of him emerges.
“In the game, I am aggressive,” Hunter said. “I just want to win. Every time I step onto the court, I just give 100 percent.”
Hunter is hoping that aggression takes the Las Positas men’s basketball team to a new level this season. And he has the Hawks pointed in the right direction.
The leading scorer for the team, Hunter is averaging 14.2 points per game. He earned MVP of the DVC Classic early in the season and eventually helped lead the team to its first tournament win. His biggest game so far this season came on January 29 against Ohlone College. He scored a game-high 28 points to help lead the men past Ohlone 84-67.
The team is averaging 79.3 points, 18.3 assists per game and continues to find a way to win. For a month, the men were unstoppable. They won 10 games in a row and two tournaments. They are 9-2 at home and 3-5 on the road. As conference play winds down, LPC will is a playoff contender. They are ranked 19 th in the state and 10 th in Northern California. During their 10 game win streak Hunter scored 155 points, had 51 rebounds, 31 assists and 18 steals.
“He’s done everything I’ve asked of him and pretty much done what I expected him to do and even better,” LPC coach James Giacomazzi said.
Hunter began playing basketball in eighth grade and continued into high school. He played for the Oakland High School Wildcats. Everything was going well for Hunter. He had no major injuries, stayed healthy and did not have any major obstacles stopping him from playing.
Hunter’s team lost the coveted Oakland Athletic League championship to McClymonds. But they followed with a win over Kipp King, champions of the Bay Area Charters School Athletic Conference. The win earned them a spot in the 2013 state playoffs, which is a big deal for the inner-city school a stone’s throw from the 580 freeway.
They opened the CIF Northern Regionals with a road game in Silicon Valley against Piedmont Hills in the Division I bracket. This was the game of their lives, doubly so for Hunter, who was spending his first year on the varsity team.
His junior year proved to be a learning experience as one choice proved to challenge his future.
On the day of the game, Hunter was on his way to Cantonese class when he found out there teacher was not there. That is usually an invitation to skip the class, and Hunter and three starters accepted the invitation. They spent that class time in a bathroom shooting dice.
They got caught.
The penalty for their infraction, levied by head coach Orlando Watkins, was suspension. Hunter and the three players were benched, forced to sit and watch the biggest game of their lives so far. Adding insult to injury, his team nearly won, losing 63-56 on the road. Imagine if they had all their players.
It was a tough lesson for Hunter. He’d let his team down and had cost himself a pivotal experience. Now, as he looks back on this experience, it is clear he learned from it. Gone are the days of skipping class. Hunter is now dedicated to his craft. Basketball in hand, warm up sweats on, he is ready to stretch, take some shots and give himself time to prepare for their game.
He gives credit to one of his teachers at Oakland High who he still keeps in touch with. Jennifer Howard, a teacher in the college prep program at the high school got to know Hunter well.
“He has a good head on his shoulders and is really committed to basketball,” Howard said. “He also understands the importance of an education. At the end of the day he makes the right decisions for himself.”
He played his senior season and had a breakout year. He went from averaging six points per game as a junior to 15.1 as a senior. He became a top player for the Wildcats. He once scored 20 or more points in four straight games, including a career-high 28 at McClymonds.
His senior season was enough to draw interest from Chico State, and Hunter was set to play Division II basketball.
The coach was fired before the season started and that changed Hunter’s direction.
“I knew the assistant coach,” Hunter said. “But it just didn’t feel right playing without the coach who had recruited me.”
He stayed one year at Chico, took classes and played pickup basketball games to stay in shape but after the year was up he headed back to Oakland. He made some calls, looked around at the different community colleges, got in touch with LPC men’s coach James Giacomazzi and made the decision to play for the Hawks.
“In terms of our style of play I thought he would do well here at Las Positas,” Giacomazzi said. “His skill set translated well to my system. He’s a young man who the team looks up to and respects,” he said. “
Hunter knows his way around the court. His explosiveness and speed allows him to easily cut into the lane and finish off with a lay-up. As a guard he also poses a threat beyond the arc, which makes him a dual threat. If the defender plays up on him, he can blow past them. If the defender backs off him to guard against his drive, then he can make him pay by hitting the wide-open three-pointers.
Hunter lets the opponent pick his poison. No hesitation, just determination and calm.
He describes himself as a “gym rat.” He never misses an opportunity to practice or play a pickup game with his friends or his teammates to improve. His game took off because of it.
“I just need to keep working hard,” Hunter said.