- Australian forward Jesse Hunt hasn´t even been a professional player for one and a half years, but the guy has already seen a lot of the basketball world. His movement among clubs has been as rapid as it has witnessing how LaMelo Ball has arrived and struck the NBA this season with his passionate and inspiring play in Charlotte. The California native has experienced the exotic culture of Turkey, been back to his home land Australia, seen the beauty of Cyprus and currently dueling in one of the strongest leagues in Europe with the easyCredit BBL in Germany with Rasta Vechta. Just as quickly as he has jumped from country to country and club to club, he knows also just how rapidly the ride can end from one day to the next. Let´s rewind back to late July 2020. Jesse Hunt had signed in Australia with the Geraldton Buccaneers (WCC) to get in some extra competition for a summer league in Australia. At first glance, having the opportunity to do this wasn´t unnormal, but at second glance, you saw two Hunt names on the roster. Jesse and brother Liam Hunt were teammates as professionals the first time since doing it sparingly in high school at Sir Francis Drake. The reunion was short lived as it lasted only two games. In a game against Rockingham on August first, 2020 an opponent crashed into Liam´s knee on a transition play in which got dislocated and he injured his ACL, PCL and LCL. The chances for his brother Liam to continue his professional career were minimal. “ Liam had a terrible injury that could end his career. But he is the toughest person that I know, he is going to fight and give it everything he has to try and come back and play the game again. He has been amazing at putting this terrible injury into perspective and has been very positive. If he doesn’t get to play again, he loves being a teacher and a coach for the younger kids in Geraldton and he is already doing an amazing job at that. I am so proud of my brother in how tough and resilient he has been over these last 7 months since his leg injury. And if he does not get to play again, he is going to do amazing things with whatever he wants to do. That´s just the person he is”, stressed Jesse Hunt. But he also knows that it doesn´t take much to quickly end a career. He is very blessed that he can play the game he loves for a living, but also very mindful that his life could be changed as rapidly as Lebron James can fly through the zone and make the next crazy dunk. “His injury made me truly understand to never take this game for granted because it could be taken away in an instant. I try to bring a lot of energy and positivity every single day in practice and games because I love this sport and want to make the most of my career because you never know when it could end”, warned Jesse Hunt. It´s March 2021 and Jesse Hunt is trying to help his team Rasta Vechta escape the easyCredit BBL cellar, but at the same time always has that brother incident in his mind and takes nothing for granted in life.
- Jesse Hunt was born on July 30, 1997 in Geraldton, Australia and played at Sir Francis Drake high school in San Anselmo, California. He comes from a sporty family as his father was on the 1982 Sir Francis Drake squad that went 34-0 and won the state title. He went on to play at the University of Portland and play 17 seasons of professional basketball in Australia. He then went on to play at Eastern Washington University (NCAA) from 2015-2019 playing a total of 102 NCAA games. He has memories that will last a lifetime. “One of my fondest moments playing at Eastern Washington was in the pre-season of my Junior year. We went to Stanford and beat them which was one of our biggest wins in my 4 years there. Another great memory on the court was my senior year when we played at Weber State and beat them to secure the 3rd seed for the big sky tournament”, remembered Jesse Hunt. He was able to improve his scoring average each season and made a huge jump as a junior playing 20 games averaging 7.5ppg, 5.6rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 56.2%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 80.6%. In the tail end of the season he scored 16 points in three games in a row against Great Falls, N Dakota and N Colorado. His rapid basketball progression really took off as a senior as he played 34 games averaging 14.6ppg, 8.7rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 52.1%, 3PT: 42.0%, FT: 75.2%. In his senior season he scored in double figures in 26 games. Some of his most stellar games included a 32 point explosion against UMKC, 27 points against Stanford, and 26 points against Seattle. He also was a menace on the boards collecting 11 double doubles. It isn´t often that you will see an Australian player in the NCAA, but even more rare when you witness three Australians on the same team as he was teammates with Mason Peatling and Jack Perry. “I have a great relationship with both of those guys. Being able to share the court with them (Mason 3 years and Jack 2 years) was very special, one because they are Aussies but also because they are great players and great people”, added Jesse Hunt. As a senior he had a great game against Stanford netting 27 points in a losing cause. In that game he battled against big German prospect Oscar Da Silva who could be a NBA Draft Pick in 2021.”Oscar is a great talent. He plays very aggressive and isn’t afraid of contact. I have no idea if he can play in the NBA, but I know he will have a great career wherever he ends up playing”, commented Jesse Hunt. The only thing missing from a perfect ending to his NCAA career was hoisting the Big Sky Conference title in the air as he reached the final in his last two years. A person that was vital in his development in the NCAA was head coach Shantay Legans. “Coach Legans was amazing for me. When he took over as head coach my junior year it truly helped my career at EWU and most certainly prepared me for the next step in my career. Legs is a great coach and is only going to continue to have more success in his coaching career”, warned Jesse Hunt.
Hunt who lists Jacob Wiley, Ahmaad Rorie, Anthony King, Liam Hunt, and Isiah Umipig as his five best teammates of all-time began his professional career in 2019-2020 overseas in Turkey with Manisa Buyuksehir Belediye (Turkey-TBL) playing 20 games averaging 9.2ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.1apg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 25.3%, FT: 66.2%. He scored in double figures in eight games including hitting Gemlik for 20 points, scored 19 points against Petkim and had 16 points against Samsun. One of the most interesting questions for any American rookie playing overseas for the first time is what their wake up call is. Sure you often get the normal blab la about home sickness, no internet or weird food, but also other inventive replies. “I had a very up and down rookie season in Turkey. I enjoyed my experience in Manisa and I learned a lot about how to be a professional and I also created great friendships with my teammates. My wake up call was playing against grown men for the first time. Having to match up with 30 year old forwards instead of college kids. That was a big wake up call for me and definitely helped me adjust to the physicality of professional basketball. I also think leaving my family, girlfriend, friends and arriving in Turkey was a big wake up call for me. Knowing I would be away from them for most of the year was not an easy transition, but it has also been a great experience for me playing overseas and I have certainly loved it”, stressed Jesse Hunt. During the summer of 2020, he got added valuable experience in his homeland with the Geraldton Buccaneers (WCC) playing 4 games averaging 17.0ppg, 8.5rpg, 3.5apg, 1.3sp. He scored 26 points against Kalamunda E.S and 21 points against East Perth E. Being able to be reunited with his brother Liam ´was also an experience that he will forever cherish. “I loved it. Being able to play for my home town team in Geraldton was truly an unbelievable experience and being able to share the court with my brother made it so much better. We played together in high school but I was only a sophomore and he was a senior so we didn’t get to see the court together very often. Playing basketball with my brother is hard to put into words. He is such a gifted basketball player and it was truly an honor to share the court with him, even if it was only for a few games. Being able to have the games that we did and get the win was very special”, remembered Jesse Hunt.
- He lists current Denver Nuggets 218cm big man Bol Bol as his toughest opponent in the NCAA began his second professional season with Keravnos Strovolou (Cyprus-OPAP Basket League) playing 7 Basketball Champions League games averaging 10.0ppg, 8.7rpg, 1.3apg, 2FGP: 41.4%, 3FGP: 39.1%, FT: 73.1%. He hit Tofas for 22 points. Even if his stay was brief in Cyprus, he also was able to make new steps with his game there. “I truly loved my time in Cyprus. We made history as a team by qualifying to play in the BCL and it truly was an honor to be part of it. Playing in the BCL was great for me. It made me understand the things that I now need to work on like getting stronger, and learning more ways to attack from the perimeter as a 4 man. Playing against the talent of those BCL teams most certainly helped me especially with it being so early in my career”, warned Jesse Hunt. He also had the privilege to play with American veteran Anthony King who balled many years in Germany in the easyCredit BBL and is truly a player that has left countless vital effects on his teammates and it wasn´t any different with Hunt. “King is a great role model for me. He would always be one of the first people in the gym before practice and would always talk to me and give me pointers on how to be a professional and what it takes to have a long, successful career. I am very lucky to have someone like him to talk to and get advice from”, said Jesse Hunt.
So let´s fast forward to March 2021 as Hunt who lists his personal NBA Mount Rushmore with legends Lebron ,Magic, MJ and Kobe has found a new challenge with easyCredit BBL team Rasta Vechta.It has been an extremely brutal season for Rasta Vechta after the end of the Pedro Calles era. In the last few years the club was used to winning and now losing has controlled the season. “Obviously nobody likes to lose. We have had our ups and downs over these past two months with injuries and losing close, tough games. But I love this team. We fight every single game and give everything we’ve got no matter how shorthanded we are or who the opponent is. There is still a lot of season left and plenty of room to grow for this team. I am very grateful to be a part of this club, and am very excited to see how we do over the next couple of months”, expressed Jesse Hunt. A big weak point has been the ability to find a defensive identity and consistency. “I believe we are moving in the right direction defensively. I also believe we are defining our identity especially over the last couple of games by showing that we are a very tough and resilient team that is going to fight back every possession of every game no matter what is on the scoreboard. We pressure teams and try to make them uncomfortable every possession. If we continue to work on our consistency in those areas, I believe our defense will continue to improve”, warned Jesse Hunt.
He has had many teammates in his short professional career and recently got a new one with ex Louisville(NCAA) standout Edgar Sosa who sparkled in his first game with Rasta Vechta with 30 points and 7 dimes. One should never hope just for that savior, but focus on the collective team effort, but with Sosa the team has found the perfect fit. “Edgar has been great for us already. He is a terrific scorer and playmaker for us and brings an added level of leadership from all of his playing experience. I believe as we continue to get him acclimated to the team, it is most certainly going to help us moving forward. It’s only been one game, but I already love sharing the court with him. He’s a very special talent”, stressed Jesse Hunt. The Australian also has come to appreciate the effort by ex Boston College center Dennis Clifford who played for top BBL team Alba Berlin some years ago. Not only has he seen what he can do in games, but also his shooting abilities before games a she made a full court shot before the game. “I’ve very much enjoyed being teammates with Dennis. He leads by example every single day in practice with his work ethic and leadership. He brings a lot of energy and professional experience to the team which has helped me a lot considering this is my second season overseas. I did see the shot. It was very impressive! I was his rebounder for the first few attempts. I don’t believe I have made a shot like that. I don’t even think I have ever attempted a full court shot like that”, stated Jesse Hunt.
- The last movie that he saw was Avengers Endgame and he is a versatile 203cm forward that believes he is a much shorter Kevin Love and likes how the NBA player can reboundsand can step out and let the three ball fly. He is a versatile forward that can be described as a modern day forward in that he can do a bit of everything on the floor. He has a polished offensive game, but he also wants to shine on the defensive end and continue to develop further. “I take a lot of pride defensively. I believe I am a versatile defender that can switch out onto guards and also fight down low with the bigs. I take it personally if I get scored on which has helped me become a better defender”, warned Jesse Hunt. After playing in the second division Turkey and Cyprus, he has made the jump to a higher league in Germany, but isn´t content yet where he is. He understands that if he wants to continue to move up the basketball ladder, he will have to continue to grind in the lab and polish his game even more. “I need to work on getting physically stronger to matchup better with the stronger post players, I also need to work on expanding my ability to score from the perimeter and post up situations. I also want to continue to get my shot off quicker from the three point line”, stressed Jesse Hunt. Sky is still the limit for him as at the age of 23 and he has already experienced so much in a short time having seen different cultures and the beauty of many countries, but at the end of the day, it´s family that he cherishes most and is very blessed and grateful that his father played a big role in allowing him to be able to let his dreams come true and be able to play professionally and travel the world. “My dad has played a huge role in my career ever since I was 4 years old. Has taught me almost everything I know about the game of basketball and also life in general. I would not be where I am without my mother and father”, warned Jesse Hunt. He will continue to enjoy every moment on the floor, because in the back of his mind, he will never forget what happened to brother Liam. His dream and passion can end at any time so enjoying the moment is something that becomes a daily ritual.