HE may be older than most National Basketball League rookies, but former Shoalhaven Tiger James Hunter has finally achieved his sporting dream after signing on with the New Zealand Breakers.
The 25-year-old, who’s parents Todd and Joanna still live in Cambewarra, is the eighth player signed for the Breakers for the upcoming 2017/18 season.
“The Aussie NBL was a goal of mine - I have been working with my agent to make it happen,” Hunter said.
“I wasn’t thinking Breakers, but one thing has led to another and here we are.”
Hunter, who also has New Zealand origins through his grandmother, enjoyed a strong season with the Southland Sharks in the New Zealand’s NBL, capped off by selection to the New Zealand select squad for their recent tour to China - where he impressed the coaching staff with his all-round game.
Breakers head coach Paul Henare was on that tour, and liked what he saw in Hunter, a big who has the potential to provide key minutes off the bench behind the likes of Alex Pledger and Rob Loe.
“We have been on the lookout for another player to join our bigs, and our preference was always for a Kiwi to fill that role and James fits the bill,” Henare said.
“He had a great NZ NBL season, with Judd Flavell (Breakers assistant coach and Sharks head coach) working closely with him down there.
“It was his form for the Sharks that earned his New Zealand select tour spot and he was one of the most consistent players in China.
“For a rookie, James is a mature player at 25 years of age and will come into this league all the better for it.
“While he is still learning and developing as a player, he knows his game well by now and understands his role on a team.
“He will give us hustle and size off the bench this season, can score in a number of different ways and will give us commitment and presence on the boards.”
A 208cm forward Hunter is excited what he can bring to the Breakers – which he will join for pre-season training in August in preparation for their first regular season game on October 8 against Cairns.
“I love getting after rebounds and getting physical with people and I think I am reasonably quick for a big man,” he said.
“And on the back of some hard work with Judd throughout the season, I bring an outside shooting game as well now.
“The Breakers have a great program - they look after their players and have a great culture.
“There is something special there - it is a club which has a rich history and loves to win championships.”
Hunter is well travelled and has plenty of experience playing abroad, spending time in the American College System (four different colleges including Washington State), Europe (Grupo INEC Zamora) and in New Zealand.
Hunter’s father Todd is actually the lead guitarist of well-known New Zealand band Dragon.
“It was big, but for me as a kid I didn’t appreciate it for what it was,” Hunter said.
“But then you do some research and understand how big Dragon were.
“It was great for me to see him playing and the environment he was in.
“I kind of think I am in a similar type of job, basketball in its own way is entertainment.
“He has been big for me, just to talk to him if I ever need anything to talk to him about.”