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With the recent successes of the men’s basketball team, wins in 11 of their 12 last games and a big win over number one Middlebury, it’s hard to give just one player all the credit. But we can certainly start giving some of that credit to Oliver Hunter, a team captain this year.
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Oliver “Ollie” Hunter was born on Jan. 21, 1990 in Albany, NY. After his birth, his family moved to three other states – North Carolina, Massachusetts and Rhode Island – before settling down in Bedford, N.H.
At a young age, Hunter developed a passion for the game of basketball.
“I started playing basketball when I was younger. I used to play in the parks in New York with my cousins. I grew up a soccer player though. My dad was a soccer player in Africa,” Hunter said. “I quit soccer when I moved to New Hampshire because football became the cool thing to do. But in seventh grade, I really started to focus on basketball.”
Upon finishing middle school, Hunter decided to attend Bishop Guertin, a private high school in Nashua, N.H. Determined to succeed on the court, Hunter joined the Cardinals basketball team.
Following his freshman year, Hunter began playing for the varsity basketball team at Bishop Guertin High School. He played under Coach Jim Migneault. Hunter and Migneault developed a special relationship during his time at Bishop Guertin.
“Ollie and I were very close when he played for me. He was my captain and if I needed to pass any information along to the other players, I could always count on Ollie. Now that he has graduated, we are more like friends,” Coach Migneault said.
The two still remain very close. They talk on the phone a couple times a week.
Hunter’s success at Bishop Guertin is still talked about. He was the team captain his senior year. He also made the New Hampshire first team All-State list due to his phenomenal senior season. Due to his success, Hunter was selected to represent New Hampshire in the annual Vermont vs. New Hampshire shrine game at the University of Vermont.
Following his three years under Migneault, Hunter settled on St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, N.H. to further his education.
After playing for the Hawks for two years, Hunter decided he needed a change.
“I ended up at Keene State because I talked to one of my good friends, Ryan Bourgeois, when I was transferring from St. A’s. He convinced me that this is a place where I can enjoy myself, get a fresh new start academically and play ball,” Hunter said.
“I also knew a couple of the transfers coming in that year, like Rashad Wright and Adrian Gonzalez, so I knew we had a big chance to compete,” Hunter added.
Before deciding to attend KSC, Hunter gave his high school coach a call.
“When he found out he was going to transfer, he called me right away and told me what was going on. He asked me for my advice and I gave it to him. Whenever he seems to have anything going on, or needs to talk out his problems, he calls me,” Migneault said.
Now in his second year as a Keene State College Owl, Ollie Hunter is leading a number 21 nationally ranked Keene State College team into the last couple weeks of a very successful season.
“He’s got three things going for him. One, he’s really dedicated to playing defense. He identifies that as his best skill. Most kids don’t do that. Most players want to be the SportsCenter kid with a dunk or a three pointer but not him,” Coach Robert Colbert said. “The second thing is his athleticism. He’s incredibly athletic and quick so he can guard multiple size guys. And third is his strength.”
Hunter hasn’t always been a defensive star though. Migneault said that that’s something he found in college.
“In college, he seems like he is more of a defensive stopper. But when he played for me, he was my top scorer. His defense has really improved,” Migneault said.
“When we need someone to step up and get it done, Ollie is the guy to go to, especially defensively,” teammate Nicco DeMasco said.
His defensive ability is one reason why his teammates continue to confide in him week in and week out.
“We are very confident with Ollie leading this team. With a player like Ollie, he’s the X factor in a game. He’s a defensive guy, if we need a basket right away, he will get it, he’s always rebounding, always attacking the rim. I love having him in the starting rotation, especially finishing off these last few games of the season,” DeMasco said.
But a modest Hunter won’t take all of the credit for his team’s success this season.
“It’s hard to single out one guy because I think everyone has contributed so much this season. A lot of credit has to go to Ryan Martin for stepping up and taking over the leadership role with his scoring,” Hunter said.
“Rashad Wright is kind of the key to our engine. If he comes out playing with intensity and fire and he’s blocking shots and dunking, we are so hard to beat. I don’t think I’ve seen us lose yet when Rashad plays like a beast. He is a big part of what we do,” he added.
“Ollie’s a part of why we’re doing well. He’s not the sole reason but he’s a part because he’s a senior and he’s been around big games and big scenarios. He also has a great inner confidence about him which I think is contagious,” Colbert said. “He’s capable of making plays in crucial moments.”
Hunter’s success this season can be attributed to his hard work this summer. He spent the months away from school surrounded by basketball. He coached at summer camps at Boston College and Siena College in New York. He even hosted his own basketball camp in Bedford, N.H.
“This summer I was coaching a lot. And I think coaching a team helps you understand the things that a team needs mentally,” Hunter said.
Hunter continued, “When you watch a lot and you coach a lot, you understand things like when people are more likely to be tired, when teams falter or when teams need somebody to be that spark,” Hunter said.
“There’s just different things that you don’t see when you’re on the court playing and you can translate that into the game and have a better feel for it,” he added.
Coach Colbert added that Hunter’s maturity has increased phenomenally.
“I don’t know if this was conscious, but he realized he’s a senior. Something that he’s done for a very long time is coming to an end, in playing basketball. His approach to this year has been dramatically more mature and different and I’d like to think that that’s the reason why. He wants to go out on a high note,” Colbert said.
As the captain of a team, it’s important to make sure that the guys you are leading trust you. Because of Hunter’s outwardly friendly personality, it doesn’t take much for one to trust him.
“He’s hilarious. And he’s a genuinely nice guy. He cares about every single one of his teammates. If anyone needs him, he’ll be there anytime you call,” DeMasco said.
No matter how hard the going gets, Ollie Hunter is proud to lead this team into the dark depths of the post season.
“It’s always a pleasure to lead these guys. When you have a bunch of guys who have faith in you, it’s a lot easier to do your job,” Hunter said.
Michlle Berthiaume can be contacted at email@example.com