In five seasons, Ron Hunter has changed the national perception of Georgia State; winning 103 games and advancing to the postseason three teams. It was highlighed in 2014-15 by winning 25 games for a second year in a row and advancing to the third round of the NCAA tournament following the shocking upset of No. 3-seed Baylor.
The 103 wins are the most in any five-year stretch in program history and leave Hunter just four shy of the school’s all-time mark.
With the team’s success in 2013-14 and 2014-15, Georgia State entered elite status by winning 25 or more games in each of those two years, an accomplishment only reached by 20 programs in the entire country.
Hunter is now responsible for three of the four winningest seasons in program history and half of the school’s postseason appearances.
Last season, Georgia State had its third-straight winning season and garnered a 7-2 non-conference record, the third-best in program history.
However, it was 2014-15 that put the program on the map. After winning the Sun Belt regular season title for the second straight season in 2014-15, the Panthers claimed the tournament title, just the third for the program to advance to the NCAA tournament. In the postgame celebration, Hunter tore his Achillies, a clip that went viral across the nation.
Although successful in his first two seasons at the helm, the Panthers started to pile up the wins during the 2013-14 season. Winning 25 games, second most in school history, Georgia State earned a Sun Belt regular season championship and an appearance in the Postseason NIT. During the season, the Panthers won a school-record 14-straight games, including a stretch of 22 of 23, as Hunter was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year and NABC Region 24 Coach of the Year.
During his first season (2011-12), Georgia State won 22 games, the fourth most in school history, advancing to the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
Hunter has won 377 games in 22 seasons, but the accomplishments made by the 2011-12 team will always be special for him. After being named head coach on March 21, 2011, he built a squad that finished in the top 20 in the nation in scoring defense, defensive shooting percentage, steals and blocked shots, as six seniors finished their careers triumpently.
The Panthers opened the CIT at home, another first, hosting a postseason contest and earning an impressive 74-43 victory against Tennessee Tech.
Earlier in the year, Hunter’s squad won 11 straight games, earning impressive victories over CAA preseason favorite Drexel and at VCU.
The Panthers winning ways continued in the CAA tournament with a record-setting 35-point victory against Hofstra in the first round, the largest margin of victory in CAA Championship history.
One of Hunter’s six seniors, Eric Buckner, became one of the top shot blockers in the country and in just his second season as a Panther, set the school record for career blocked shots. Buckner later earned Georgia Men’s College Player-of-the-Year honors by the Atlanta Tip-off Club.
Following the record-setting season, Hunter was named Atlanta Tip-off Club Georgia Coach of the Year, while his players earned a record number of conference and national awards.
In his second year, Hunter led a squad of nine newcomers to 15 wins and saw his son, R.J., earn Kyle Macy Freshman All-America honors, along with a slew of CAA awards. His squad won at some of the toughest places in the CAA, including George Mason and Old Dominion, while knocking off an undefeated Northeastern squad in Boston.
The 2013-14 season was a special one for the Hunter family as Ron watched R.J. be named Sun Belt Player of the Year, earn AP All-America Honorable Mention honors and then receive the conference’s top honor as male athlete of the year. Georgia State saw four Panthers earn all-conference recognition as the Panthers took the regular-season title with an impressive 17-1 confererence mark. R.J. repeated on all of those awards following the 2014-15 season and announced he would leave Georgia State early for the NBA Draft, being selected No. 28 in the 2015 draft by the Boston Celtics.
National notoriety is nothing new for Hunter. While at IUPUI, he was lauded for his humanitarian efforts, partnering with Samaritan’s Feet, an organization that collects shoes for underprivileged children around the world.
He continued that work in Atlanta, coaching the Panthers while barefoot in one game during his first five seasons at GSU.
While leading IUPUI to 25 or more wins in two of his final four seasons, Hunter began to partner with Samaritan’s Feet. On Jan. 24, 2008, he coached IUPUI against Oakland in his bare feet to help raise awareness for the cause. By tipoff, Hunter’s efforts had garnered more than 100,000 pairs of shoes, and to date, that number has climbed well into the millions.
Hunter’s resume includes numerous national honors including an NABC Guardians of the Game Pillar Award for Service, the 2009 Giant Steps Award from the National Consortium for Academics and Sport (NCAS), and a Minority Achievement Award from the Center for Leadership Development (CLD).
He was one of seven head coaches who served on the Division I Basketball Academic Enhancement Group, as appointed by late NCAA President Myles Brand, and he is a member of the National Basketball Coaches Association (NABC) Board of Directors. He served as President of the NABC in 2015-16 and is currently serving on an ad hoc committee to the NCAA Selection Committe in 2016-17.
He was honored by the American Diabeties Association in May of 2015 as its Father of the Year and a week later earned the Positive Collegiate Coach of the Year at the Georgia Positive Athlete Awards.
In his 17 seasons at IUPUI, Hunter guided the program through its transition from the NAIA and Division II level into NCAA Division I and the Summit League. He is the school’s winningest coach, both in number of victories and winning percentage, and he led IUPUI to its only appearance in the NCAA tournament in 2003 in just the school’s third season as a Division I program.
His program produced George Hill, the 2008 Summit League Player of the Year who was drafted in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft (26th selection) by the San Antonio Spurs.
In 2009-10, Hunter’s Jaguars won 25 games, including the first postseason victory in school history. IUPUI, the Summit League runner-up, earned a berth in the College Basketball Invitational, where the Jaguars defeated Hofstra in the first round before falling to Princeton in double overtime. IUPUI ranked second in the nation in field-goal percentage in 2009-10.
Named Summit League Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2006, Hunter led IUPUI to the conference championship game five times from 2002-10, including the 2003 title game victory over top-seeded Valparaiso. Between 2005 and 2010, the Jaguars never finished lower than fourth in the league standings under Hunter, including runnerup finishes in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Sixteen of Hunter’s Jaguars received first- or second-team all-conference accolades, including two player-of-the-year honorees in Hill (2008) and Odell Bradley (2004) as well as defensive player of the year Matt Crenshaw (2004). Another 10 IUPUI players were recognized on the league’s all-newcomer team, including Newcomer-of-the-Year winners Austin Montgomery (2007) and Robert Glenn (2009).
Hunter’s teams have shown the ability to knock off top competition on the road, recording victories at Georgia Tech (2001-02), at Northwestern (2002-03) and at Seton Hall (2008-09).
Hunter arrived at IUPUI as head coach in 1994-95 and led the then-NAIA program to a winning record at 16-13 in his first season. His second IUPUI squad posted a 22-7 mark in NCAA Division II, at the time the highest single-season winning percentage in school history.
Winning records followed the next two seasons, and Carlos Knox became a three-time All-American at the Division II level. The program began its transition to Division I and the Summit League in 1998-99.
Hunter’s coaching career began in 1987, when he served as an assistant at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. During his six seasons at Milwaukee, the school moved from NAIA to NCAA Division II status and eventually to Division I. During Hunter’s stint, Wisconsin-Milwaukee amassed an overall record of 111-59, including a 23-4 mark in 1992-93.
Prior to his arrival at IUPUI, Hunter spent one year as the top assistant coach at his alma mater, Miami (Ohio), under current Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek. During that season, the Redhawks were 19-10, finishing second in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and making an appearance in the postseason National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
Hunter, 52, earned his bachelor’s degree in education at Miami (Ohio) in 1986 and added a master’s in 1987. He was a standout player on strong Miami (Ohio) teams of the mid-1980s, along with high school and college teammate Ron Harper, who went on to a long NBA career. The Redhawks were 81-30 during Hunter’s four-year career and earned three consecutive NCAA tournament berths while winning two MAC championships.
Hunter and his wife, Amy, have two children, Jasmine (27) and R.J. (22), who was selected by the Boston Celtics with the No. 28 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.