Othello Hunter is a 31 year old 203cm power forward/center playing his 10th professional season and first with CSKA Moscow. As a professional he has played for top teams Olympiacos S.F.P. Pireus (Greece-A1) winning the Greek league title in 2015 and last season with Real Madrid reaching the Euroleague Final 4 playing 39 games ACB games averaging 6.2ppg, 3.9rpg, FGP: 60.7%, 3PT: 16.7%, FT: 73.9%; and 35 Euroleague games averaging 7.6ppg, 4.5rpg, FGP: 65.5%, FT: 68.3%. In Europe he also gained further experience in the Ukraine and Italy where he played with teams like Dinamo Ford Sassari and Montepaschi Siena. He also played in China for the Shandong Flaming Bulls and Jiangsu Tongx. He turned professional in 2008 and played in the States until 2010 playing for the Anaheim Arsena and played 23 NBA games for the Atlanta Hawks. He started his basketball career at R.J. Reynolds High School and in 2004 played at Hillsborough CC (NJCAA) before making the jump to Ohio St. (NCAA) in 2006 where he reached the NCAA final in 2007 and won the NIT title in 2008. In his senior year he played 37 games averaging 9.9ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.5bpg, FGP: 59.6%, 3Pts: 25.0%, FT: 54.5%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Euroleague game against Brose Bamberg in Moscow.
Othello thanks for talking to German Hoops. After winning your first 10 games in the VTB, the club is riding an untypical three game losing streak, but is continuing to play well in the Euroleague where it has a 3 game winning streak and blew two teams away by 100 plus points. Why has the team been struggling in the VTB?
We didn´t come in prepared to the last three Euroleague games and were to relaxed. We had that mentality that we could easily win the games. It was something that just happened. It has been tough games. We have to come into the game against Bamberg with more intensity.
You face German team Brose Bamberg in Moscow tonight. You didn´t play in the first game in Bamberg. Rebounding was a huge key in the first game. What will CSKA Moscow be focusing on most in this game to come away with the victory?
For us the most important thing is always starting well on defense. There have been many games this season where we started games and quickly were down by 10 points. Coach screamed at us and then we turned it up. Against Bamberg we have to do a good job guarding their guards and bigs, run the floor and just play our game.
You will be having another meeting with Dorell Wright. Back in your rookie season with the Atlanta Hawks you beat Miami 81-79 as you powered home 8 points and six rebounds and Wright had 7 points and eight rebounds. How excited are you to be playing Wright again all these years later and what do you remember from that game?
To be honest, I don´t remember that game. That was a long time ago. It is always good to see NBA players end their career overseas with success. I think that the way he is playing with Bamberg is the same way he played in the NBA. He has been playing really well for them. He has done a good job adjusting to European ball and I hope that he can exceed here like he did in the NBA.
After playing the last two seasons with top European teams Olympiacos S.F.P. Pireus (Greece-A1) and Real Madrid, you now have joined another top team CSKA Moscow. What is most special about the Russian team that none of the other two clubs have in their amazing traditions?
That is a tough question. The cities are all different. Every place has been special where I played. There isn´t really any difference. All three clubs have a lot of tradition and are very passionate about basketball.
Your 31 years old now and have won the Greek league title and Italian Super Cup. As a player what do you still want to achieve? Obviously win titles, but what is your goal as a player as you continue in your 30´s?
Just be the best me. At the end of the day all that I want to do is win which is all that I ever wanted to do. I recently had my first kid and the most important thing is that she can see me win and love the game before I stop playing.
You have played with so many amazing players in your basketball career and this season it´s no different with so many great players with CSKA Moscow. But how challenging is it going head to head with a Kyle Hines each day and where does he rank all-time in professionalism with everyone you have played with in your career?
It´s always nice going head to head with him and it´s always a real battle and grind. We push each other very much. When I am on Othello mode and get pissed off, I can always talk to Kyle. All he has to do is say a few words and then I´m focused again. When all is said and done, Kyle will go down as one of the top centers in Euroleague history. He has accomplished so much. I think that any center coming into the league should try to mimic what he does. It´s hard to rank him in my all-time best teammates because I rank them all the same.
You played last season with Slovenian shooting star Luka Doncic. Talk a little about his development there and can he be the next Dirk Nowitzki in the NBA?
No way. He won´t be another Dirk. They are completely different players.
Correct. I meant can Luka Doncic become one of the best European players to ever play in the NBA?
To me if Luka can stay focused and humble then he could be one of the greatest European players ever. He just has to stay focused and not let outside distractions get in the way of greatness.
After two years in the NBA, you finished the 2009-2010 season in Greece with Ilysiakos Athens (Greece-A1) What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home in North Carolina and how key was Warren Carter in making the transition easier?
My wake up call was when I got to Athens. I didn´t know about not staying up. I was up at 2Am and then still until 6pm the next day when practice was. I wasn´t really sleeping well. I was lucky that everyone spoke English. I wouldn´t necessarily say that Warren made the transition easier, but it was actually a Greek player named Christos Vidalis. He showed me around and helped me get adjusted to the culture. I really appreciated him for that.
You played in the NBA from 2008-2010 playing 23 games. How was that whole experience for you and you did play at the 2010 and 2012 NBA Summer Leagues after that. Why wasn´t your stay longer and what did you learn from the whole business of the NBA?
I haven´t really thought about it. To be honest when I got to the NBA in 2008, I always thought that I would end overseas someday. That was the path that God had chosen for me. The NBA was a great experience don´t get me wrong, but I wouldn´t trade my experience overseas for anything in the world. I have had a great career and saw so much being in Athens, Rome or Siena. The NBA had it´s good and bad sides, but in the end it´s only a business and one shouldn´t take it personal.
Before landing at Ohio State you had to pay your dues at Hillsborough CC (NJCAA). How did this experience humble you and make you the person and player you are today? Did you always have that chip on your shoulder?
I wouldn´t say that I ever did have a chip on my shoulder. I didn´t start playing basketball until I was a senior in high school. My high school coach asked me if I wanted to play and I said yes, because I thought it was fun. I thought nothing else of it. When I came to Hillsborough, coach Wells saw that I had talent and just pushed me every day. He saw something special in me that I hadn´t seen at the time. I just continued to put in the work. There wasn´t any real interest in me, but only Ohio State saw something in me and the rest is history.
You played only two years at Ohio State before turning professional, but reached the NCAA final in 2007 and won the NIT title in 2008. What do you remember most annoying about that Florida team and and what memories do you have of winning the NIT crown against UMass?
There wasn´t anything annoying about Florida. I think the most crazy thing was after Florida won seeing the orange confetti come down in the Georgia dome. We did lose, but it was a great experience. So many guys dream of getting to an NCAA final, but the most don´t get there. What I remember most about the NIT Game was being dunked on. I remember in an earlier game in the season getting dunked on from DJ White from Indiana. My teammate Evan Turner said oh no, were going to lose this game and we did. In the NIT final against UMass, the same happened again. I got dunked on, but this time I remember thinking that it won´t happen again that we will lose after getting dunked on. We put in the work and beat UMass in the NIT final.
Who was the toughest player that you ever battled on the court as an opponent who was your best teammate ever? Would Greg Oden be included here?
Shaq was the best player that I ever played against. Greg Oden was a beast in practice. He was a good beast. It was unfortunate that he got hurt and had to cut his career short. He could have been one of the best had he not gotten injured. I didn´t have one best teammate, but teammates. I rank my boys form junior college as my best teammates.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Gladiator. I saw it with my wife.
Thanks Othello for the chat