Quinton Hunter grew up idolizing the Brandon University Bobcats. Now he gets the chance to be one.
After weighing multiple opportunities in multiple sports, the 18-year-old Neelin Spartans standout has signed a letter of intent to join BU’s men’s basketball team.
"I’m extremely excited to be able to play at home and be at the CIS level," said Hunter, who was named Neelin’s male athlete of the year at last night’s awards banquet. "It was hard to come down to a specific sport that I wanted to stick to, but moving on to the next level is a big jump and my love for basketball hasn’t changed since I was a kid. It’s my number one sport and always will be."
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound guard is expected to red-shirt and develop his perimeter game in his first season with the Bobcats, who are deep in the guard position — including 2013 Neelin graduate Theo Farough — heading into the 2014-15 Canada West conference campaign.
Bobcats head coach Gil Cheung said he sees a lot of untapped potential in Hunter.
"He’s just a really good athlete," Cheung said. "He’s not the fastest guy, he doesn’t jump the highest, but he’s just all-rounded. He’s the best setter in volleyball, he’s one of the best football players in the city, one of the best basketball players in the city ...
"Basketball-wise, he has a great feel for the game, he shoots the ball very well. He’s undersized to play the wing, so we are going to try to develop his skills so that he can be more of a combo guard ... And just like most kids, we are going to develop his strength and ball handling and just adjusting to the pace of the game."
Hunter was a provincial AAA all-star in basketball, set a record with nine interceptions in the Winnipeg High School Football League and was Neelin’s starting setter in volleyball. Hunter, who was ranked as the third-best high school football prospect in the province by Top Prospects Canada Recruiting Blog, attended spring camp with the University of Manitoba Bisons football team and also took part in a spring basketball camp with the Minot State Beavers.
But the chance to be a Bobcat one day made his final decision easy.
"Growing up I definitely wanted to be (a Bobcat)," said Hunter, who averaged 19 points and 3.4 three-pointers made per game. "As a kid, you look at them like rock stars and now you get to actually be a role model for somebody else, hopefully ... I’ve scrimmaged a little bit with some of the (Bobcat) players and they are all great guys, so it’s good."
However, Hunter knows he has a lot of work ahead of him to make the jump from high school to the university game.
"I have to get in the gym a lot more and I have to get quicker, faster, stronger and also my ball handling skills are going to have to improve," Hunter said. "Wherever Gil wants to put me, I will work as hard as I can to fill that spot."