In eight seasons, Ron Hunter changed the national perception of Georgia State; winning a school-record 171 games and advancing to the postseason six times. Hunter was responsible for six of the eight most successful seasons in program history.
His stint at Georgia State was highlighted by three trips to the NCAA Tournament and five Sun Belt Conference titles in his final six years. Among his accomplishments were the first back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in program history. In 2014-15, the Panthers won 25 games for the second year in a row and advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament following the shocking upset of No. 3-seed Baylor.
In his final season, 2018-19, the Panthers won both the Sun Belt Conference regular season championship and tournament title to advance to a second-straight NCAA Tournament. With a regular season title on the line, the Panthers defeated in-state rival Georgia Southern in Statesboro for the first time since 1996 to earn the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. It was the final part of a season that saw the Panthers go 24-10, knocking off UT Arlington for a second-straight year in the championship game of the conference tournament.
In 2017-18, the Panthers won the Sun Belt Conference tournament with three-straight impressive wins before facing No. 2-seed Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament where GSU held a second-half lead before falling.
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.
Georgia State was the only NCAA Division 1 team in the state of Georgia to win at least 100 games between 2013-18, garnering a 110-55 mark during that stretch.
In each of Hunter’s final two seasons, Georgia State won 24 games, the fourth-most in school 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, 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 Achilles, a clip that went viral across the nation.
Coaching in the NCAA tournament from a stool, the Panthers trailed by 12 with 2:53 to play, before mounting a furious 13-0 run, capped by a 30-foot 3-pointer from son R.J. that sent Hunter off his stool and became one of the most watched clips of the tournament and a part of ‘One Shining Moment.’
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 421 games in 24 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 triumphantly.
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
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,
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 tip-off, 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), a Minority Achievement Award from the Center for Leadership Development (CLD) and the 2018 Gene Bartow Award.
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 Committee in 2016-17.
He was honored by the American Diabetes Association in May 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
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.
Hill was the standout for Hunter’s 2007-08 IUPUI squad that won a school-record 26 games. The Jaguars led the nation in 3-point field goal percentage that year while also ranking in the top five in both field goal percentage and free throw percentage.
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 runner-up 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
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, 54, 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 (28) and R.J. (23), who was selected by the Boston Celtics with the No. 28 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.