Hunter on the prowl

Patrick Duffy | The Signal R.J. Hunter had a stellar college debut against Life University with 30 points.

R.J. Hunter is nothing like his father.

The freshman shooting guard is discreet and low-key on the court, which is rarely seen on his father. Instead, coach Ron Hunter has the ability to hype up a whole stadium with his boisterous personality and energetic gesticulations during the game.

“He’s really crazy sometimes,” R.J. Hunter said with a grin. “I’m getting used to it. He gets on me like he gets on everybody else and that’s what I like – he doesn’t entitle anybody and it doesn’t matter who you are.”

Patrick Duffy | The Signal
Coach Ron Hunter gives his son R.J. a hug after the young guard’s first college game.

According to coach Hunter, he treats all the players the same way because to him, the team is a “family,” meaning that he is willing to talk to any of his players about any topic on and off the court.

Yet, he does admit that his son’s decision to play for Georgia State touched him.“Early in his senior year he called me at around two or three in the morning and said he wanted to come play for me,” coach Hunter said. “When a son makes a phone call like that to his dad, I can’t put into words how it feels.”

Coach Hunter knows his son like the back of his hand and has been advising him since his first basketball games as a child.

“He was the first one to put the ball in my hands and he’s my coach now, which is a little weird,” R.J. Hunter said, unable to wipe the smile off his face.

Now that R.J. is no longer a child, he seeks his father’s advice on tougher challenges, such as how to go about facing the then No. 8-nationally ranked Duke Blue Devils at the Cameron Indoor Stadium with only two exhibition games of college basketball experience under his belt.

“He just told me to relax, not get caught in the moment and play basketball,” R.J. Hunter said.

One of the biggest topics R.J. consulted his dad about was how to control his anxiety on the court, which haunted him during his first college game versus Life University.The 6-foot-5 guard admitted that he could have been calmer on the first half of the match.

“I’m a pretty nervous dude for the game,” Hunter said. “On the first couple of possessions, I settled down and got to the groove of the game and everything was good from there.”

Indeed, it was good from there for him. On the second half of the game he showed confidence by hitting 3-pointers, making plays and leading the Panthers to victory on a game where they had struggled at first.

Patrick Duffy | The Signal
R.J. Hunter had a stellar college debut against Life University with 30 points, six assists and eight rebounds.

He ended with 30 points, six assists and eight rebounds – numbers almost as impressive as the ones he used to put up in high school.

Last year, the Indianapolis, IN native led Pike High School to the final of the Indiana State Championship. Even though they lost, Hunter had a successful season, averaging 20.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.9 steals per game.

“I have a lot of great memories from there,” Hunter said. “I think they’re going to put my jersey up back home, my coach sent me a picture.”

College basketball is a whole different animal, though.“In high school, you can get away with a lot of stuff, but here, you’re playing every best player from every high school,” Hunter said. “You have to be really talented to excel in college.”

Hunter’s talent is not the only reason why he has been so successful at Georgia State so far.

He said that the sense of brotherhood in the team has helped him gain the confidence necessary to perform well on the court.“We’re all brothers,” Hunter said. “Ever since the first day, we’ve been family.”

The two players he has the most connection to are forward Manny Atkins and guard Devonta White.“Manny Atkins and Devonta White really took me under their wing, taught me everything, and really educated me on how to be a student-athlete,” Hunter said.

Patrick Duffy | The Signal
R.J. Hunter currently averages 14.6 points and 31.4 minutes per game.

Atkins, a former player of Virginia Tech, already played at Duke and also gave Hunter some tips on how to deal with the Blue Devils’ crowd and the atmosphere.

According to Hunter, all of the teachings from his teammates have been helpful for his career and he is sure that he wants to play for the Panthers all four years of college.

Today, he sees himself as a player who will take any role in order for the team to amass victories and even reach the Final Four in the near future.“I just want to put a few more banners up [in the Sports Arena],” Hunter said.

After college, the public relations major plans to take it slowly.

“I just want to see how this goes first. I don’t want to think too far ahead,” Hunter said. “I’m just going to worry about putting some more banners up, getting some wins here and we’ll figure the rest out from there.”

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