Assistant basketball coach Kenya Hunter, who’s spent the last five years on Tim Miles’ staff at Nebraska, has accepted an assistant coach role at UConn, according to a press release on the Huskies’ athletic site.
Hunter has 16 years of coaching experience at the Division I level, including stops at Xavier, Georgetown, and Duquesne. He also has administrative experience at North Carolina State.
“Kenya has tremendous experience in some high-level programs,” UConn men’s basketball coach Dan Hurley said in a written statement. “He’s very well-respected not only as a strong recruiter, but an extremely knowledgeable coach on the floor. It’s great when you can hire a man who you view as a future head coach and Kenya has that kind of ability. I’m very happy to add him to what I believe is an outstanding staff.”
Hunter also had a written statement in the press release.
“I looked at the opportunity that UConn presents for me, working with a staff that I’m very excited about, plus I felt that I needed a change,” Hunter said. “Obviously, UConn has a great tradition of winning — four national championships and one just four years ago. It’s recent, not outdated. You look in that practice facility and at that NBA wall, it’s a place where a lot of NBA guys have come through and paved the way. I embrace the challenge of helping Coach Hurley get UConn basketball back to where the people there want it and where it has been.”
A native of Arlington, VA, Hunter helped Nebraska post 22 victories and a school-record 13 conference victories this past season and earn a berth in the NIT.
He also helped the Huskers reach the NCAA Tournament in 2014, and he was instrumental in the development of All-Big Ten selections Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields.
Hunter played a major role in the Huskers’ recruiting efforts. Nebraska has added nine players who were among the nation’s top 150 players in their classes by ESPN or Rivals over the last three seasons. He also helped recruit five players on the current roster, including James Palmer, Jr., Isaac Copeland and Isaiah Roby.
“Kenya has done an excellent job for Nebraska Basketball,” Husker head coach Tim Miles said in a written statement. “He was great on the floor and a terrific recruiter. I’m grateful for his five years in our program. I have worked very hard to keep Kenya in Nebraska and have improved his job each year. But, I believe in his mind, it was best for him and his family to make this move at this point in his career. Now, he gets an opportunity to develop a new network and new set of contacts in the Northeast.
“I’m excited to keep moving our program forward and will add another coach who will bring true value to our program.”
Hunter’s familiarity with UConn stems from his six years (2007-2013) on the staff of John Thompson III at Georgetown, where he helped the Hoyas earn two Big East titles, five 20-win seasons, and five NCAA Tournament berths.
“UConn was always a difficult team to play,” Hunter said. “The players they attracted were impressive, tremendous guards and bigs who could do a lot of things. They would try to impose their will. You weren’t going to out X-and-O them.”
Prior to his stint at Georgetown, Hunter spent three years at Xavier under Sean Miller, where he helped produce back-to-back 20-win seasons and a spot in the 2007 NCAA tourney.
Hunter began his Division I coaching career at Duquesne, his alma mater, where he became a full-time assistant for two seasons (1998-2000), helping the Dukes bring in the top recruiting class in the Atlantic 10 in 1999.
““Nebraska captured my heart on my first visit, and it has been a truly amazing place,” Hunter said. “However, the decision to leave has been a tough one for me and my family. I’ve always embraced new challenges and have been fortunate enough to learn from some of the best coaches in college basketball. This is a challenge and opportunity that I thought I should accept. I want to thank Coach Miles, our coaching staff, players and administration for making this a great place to live for me and my family. I’ve enjoyed being a part of the Nebraska basketball program and wish them continued success.”
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