Kenya Hunter said he knows how unusual it is to take a new coaching job in August. By August, the coaching staff is typically set and players are restarting team workouts. But when the Bruiser Flint left IU to join John Calipari’s basketball coaching staff at the University of Kentucky, Hunter jumped at the opportunity to come to Bloomington as the co-associate head coach.
Hunter said he wasn’t looking for a new position when the opportunity came around, but two main factors drew him to IU. The first was the history and tradition of the Hoosiers’ storied basketball program. The second was the man asking him to join the staff.
“It was an opportunity at an inopportune time,” Hunter said during a Zoom call Friday. “But it was an opportunity I didn’t think I could pass up.”
IU head coach Archie Miller and Hunter have a long-standing relationship. Hunter coached Archie Miller in high school with Miller's father, John, on the Amateur Athletic Union circuit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while he played college basketball at Duquesne University. Their paths would overlap again when Miller was in college at North Carolina State University where Hunter was the director of basketball operations.
Even when Miller and Hunter weren’t on the same team or at the same school, they remained close because Hunter was an assistant coach for Miller’s brother, Sean, at Xavier University from 2004-07.
“Most of the reason why I’m here is because of the relationship piece,” Hunter said. “There’s not too many jobs at this time that I’d get up, pack up and move myself and my family, but because of the situation and it being a person I’ve known for a very long time and I trust in and believe in as a coach, that was the reason for this opportunity and me coming to Indiana at this point.”
Hunter has only been in Bloomington since Sept. 1, but said he’s already experienced some of the things he remembers about Miller and noticed some of the growth since the last time the two were together.
“It just opened my eyes to how much he’s grown from the player I remember,” Hunter said. “I worked for his brother, and it’s kind of like a spitting image. But Arch has a way about himself. He’s very confident in knowing the game and teaching the game.”
Hunter said he appreciates how Miller gives “sweat equity” during skill development and gets out on the court to work with the players and push them to improve. Hunter said he and Miller are cut from the same cloth since working with the players on the court is one of his biggest beliefs. To him, it shows a level of respect and understanding toward the players that demonstrates the dedication to success throughout the program.
The similarities and comfort aren’t the only things Hunter brings to IU. He comes as a premier recruiter and said he understands his responsibility to expand Miller’s “inside-out recruiting” of putting a focus on in-state recruits and expand IU's pipeline throughout the East Coast.
While at the University of Connecticut, Hunter helped the Huskies land Rahsool Diggins, a top-50 recruit in the class of 2021, according to 247Sports. Since Hunter joined IU’s staff, the team’s recruiting presence on the East Coast has seen a noticeable increase, including extending scholarship offers to Masai Troutman of Saint Andrews Episcopal in Maryland and Favour Aire of Bishop McNamara in Maryland.
While Hunter knows his main focus will be continuing the Hoosiers’ success in recruiting, he can have a big effect on skill development.
Throughout his coaching career, Hunter has had a lot of success working with forwards and wings. He is credited with being instrumental in the development of Greg Monroe, Otto Porter and Roy Hibbert while at Georgetown University — all of whom were All-Americans.
The timing may have been inopportune, but Hunter is determined to take his relationship with Miller and experience to get off to a fast start on the Hoosiers’ coaching staff.
"Developing kids with skill development and helping them get better, I've done this for a long time,” Hunter said. “I just feel I can come in and be a person to add to that success, and on the recruiting part, I'll just do my job in bringing talented kids here to Indiana.''
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