April 29, 2005
Cullowhee, N.C. - Larry Hunter, former North Carolina State associate head coach and one of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) leaders in coaching victories, has been named Western Carolina University's 17th head men's basketball coach all time, WCU athletics director Chip Smith announced Friday afternoon.
Hunter, whose teams posted winning records in 23 of his 25 seasons as a head coach, boasts an overall record of 509-224 and currently ranks as the 14th winningest active coach in the country. He additionally ranks 59th on the NCAA Division I all-time head coaching victories list and is tied for 104th on the NCAA all-division list for head coaching victories. During his time as a head coach, Hunter made 11 overall NCAA tournament appearances, while making seven as an assistant coach.
"I am very excited to have the opportunity to serve as head basketball coach at Western Carolina University," Hunter said. "My background gives me familiarity with a program like Western Carolina and a league like the Southern Conference. For that reason, I feel the University and I are a good match for each other. I look forward to the challenges of building a championship program."
Hunter comes to Western Carolina after four years as an assistant coach at North Carolina State, the final three serving as associate head coach. In his first season at N.C. State (2002), the Wolfpack reached the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship game and received their first NCAA Championship bid since 1991. N.C. State would go on to reach at least the ACC Tournament semifinals in each the last three years as well as receiving bids to the NCAA Championship. In 2004, Hunter coached Julius Hodge, who was tabbed ACC Player of the Year and consensus All-America. This past season, the Wolfpack made an impressive run at season's end and defeated defending NCAA Champion Connecticut to reach the Sweet 16. N.C. State was just one of 21 teams in the nation to play in the NCAA Championship in each of the last four years.
"Throughout this process, we were looking for someone with solid coaching experience, a proven recruiter and a person who could understand and promote the values of the University," Smith said. "Larry Hunter has all of these qualities, in addition to being a winner throughout his career. He is highly respected among his peers, both as a coach and as a person. I have no doubt he will continue to be successful at Western Carolina University."
Hunter spent 12 years (1989-2001) as head coach at Ohio University prior to his stint in Raleigh. Five years after taking over the Bobcat basketball program (1993-94), he led Ohio to a 25-8 record and was tabbed the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Coach of the Year, winning both the league's regular season and tournament titles. The following year, the Bobcats won the preseason National Invitation Tournament (NIT), went 24-10 and reached the second round of the postseason NIT. At Ohio, he coached 16 All-MAC performers and four first-team Academic All-MAC selections. Among those standout players were Player of the Year honorees Dave Jamerson (1990), Gary Trent (1993, `94 and `95) and Brandon Hunter (2003). Trent additionally earned MAC Freshman of the Year honors in 1993, duplicating the feat of Rush Floyd in 1991 during his freshman campaign with the Bobcats.
Jamerson set a MAC record with 874 points in 1990 while taking home first team Academic All-America honors that season. Later in 1990, Jamerson was an National Basketball Association (NBA) first round selection (15th pick overall) by Miami. Trent, a third team Associated Press All-America in 1995, would leave Ohio after his junior season to become a NBA first round selection (11th overall pick) of the Milwaukee Bucks. Brandon Hunter also moved on to play professionally, being an NBA second-round pick in 2003 and currently playing for the Orlando Magic. Jamerson (third with 2,336), Trent (seventh with 2,108) and Brandon Hunter (11th with 2,012) all rank among the MAC's top 11 in scoring, while Brandon Hunter and Trent rank fifth (1,103) and ninth (1,050), respectively, on the MAC's career rebounding list.
Thirty of the 38 players he coached at Ohio who completed their eligibility there graduated, including 12 who went on to earn their Master's degrees, posting an overall graduation rate as a head coach of 85 percent. In his last season at Ohio, the Bobcats were 19-11, with a 12-6 mark in MAC competition, and his overall record with the Bobcats was 204-148.
After winning his 500th career game as a collegiate head coach (Jan. 23, 2001), Hunter said, "My approach has been simple: Arrive early, work late and chop wood all day long. I've been fortunate to be surrounded by some great people and I've worked at two great institutions, Wittenberg and Ohio. Add all those things together over 20 years and you start to have a small pile of wood."
From 1976-89, Hunter was the head coach at Wittenberg University, playing a key role in the school being the winningest NCAA Division III basketball program in terms of victories and percentage. Hunter made an immediate impact after taking over the helm, winning National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) National Coach of the Year honors in 1977 after becoming the first coach in NCAA history to win a national championship in his first season at a school. During his 13 years in that position, his team turned in a 305-76 record and made four NCAA Division III Final Four appearances (national title in 1977, national runner-up in 1983 and third place in 1980 and 1987).
He coached three national players of the year at Wittenberg, including Tyrone Curtis (1981), Tim Casey (1985) and Brad Baldridge (1991), as well as having 21 all-conference honors bestowed upon his players. In addition to coaching those national players of the year, four of Wittenberg's top five career scorers were coached by Hunter, including the school's all-time leader Steve Iannarino (1,973). Hunter won a total of 12 Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) titles, six regular-season championships and six tournament championships. For his success, Hunter was inducted into the Wittenberg University Hall of Honor in 1996 and received the school's Honorary Alumnus Award in 1997.
Hunter, who got his start in coaching as an assistant coach at Marietta College from 1971-73, graduated from Ohio in 1971 with a B.S. in Education, majoring Social Studies Comprehensive. He earned his Master of Science in Physical Education from Ohio in 1973, then spent three seasons (1973-76) as an assistant coach at Wittenberg. He got his first taste of postseason play while serving on the Wittenberg staff, reaching the NCAA Division III championship game in 1976.
In addition to his coaching resume, Hunter produced a basketball instructional video, "Drills, Skills and Moves: Post Play Moves & Drills."
Hunter is married to the former Mary Kay Friedrich of London, Ohio.
"Western Carolina has made an impressive hire in Larry Hunter. He brings a depth of coaching knowledge and experience to their program. He believes in his system and has been successful with it throughout his entire career. Larry is a great fit for Western Carolina and I am confident he will do an outstanding job." - Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University Head Men's Basketball Coach
"I have watched Larry Hunter's teams play a lot over the years and have always been impressed with how he has taught the game at both ends of the floor. He will do an excellent job at Western Carolina." - Bob Knight, Texas Tech University Head Men's Basketball Coach
"Larry Hunter is a winner. His experience working in the ACC and with Herb Sendek will play a big role in his success at Western Carolina. Larry brings a wealth of basketball knowledge. He has an incredible ability to really breakdown a game. He understands the X's and O's and makes the necessary adjustments that usually leads you to the winners circle." - Dick Vitale, ESPN Analyst
"Coach Hunter has had a great desire to become a head coach once again, so we are delighted that he has this opportunity. We certainly thank him for his contributions to the N.C. State program and wish him continued success." - Herb Sendek, North Carolina State Head Men's Basketball Coach
"Larry Hunter is terrific. I've known Larry and his reputation in basketball for a long time. He is a technically skilled basketball coach. He really understands the game and will be a perfect fit for Western Carolina." - Jay Bilas, ESPN Analyst
"Larry Hunter was without a doubt the top assistant coach in the ACC and is a proven head coach. His offensive philosophy helped turn North Carolina State around. He knows the `Princeton' offense as well as anybody and he does a great job with it. He will implement an offense at Western Carolina that will be hard to defend." - Bobby Cremmins, former Georgia Tech head men's basketball coach and Television Analyst
Larry Hunter's Career Head Coaching Record: 25 Years: 509-224 Wittenberg University 1976-77 23-5 + NCAA III Champion; NABC National Coach of the Year 1977-78 16-7 + 1978-79 23-6 * 1979-80 29-3 + 3rd Place at NCAA III Championship 1980-81 28-3 + * Tyrone Curtis named NCAA III Player of the Year 1981-82 20-10 * 1982-83 26-6 * NCAA III Runner-Up 1982-84 18-9 1984-85 27-4 + * Tim Casey named NCAA III Player of the Year 1985-86 23-5 1986-87 25-8 * 3rd Place at NCAA III Championship 1987-88 20-7 1988-89 27-3 + 13 yrs 305-76
+ - Ohio Athletic Conference Regular-Season Champion * - Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Champion
Ohio University 1989-90 12-16 Dave Jamerson Named MAC Player of the Year & 1st Team Academic All-America Jamerson additionally set a MAC record with 874 points in a season; Drafted 1st Round (15th Pick) in the 1990 NBA Draft by Miami 1990-91 16-12 Rush Floyd Named MAC Freshman of the Year 1991-92 18-10 1992-93 14-13 Gary Trent Named MAC Player and Freshman of the Year 1993-94 25-8 # % MAC Coach of the Year; NCAA Championship 1st Round Gary Trent Named MAC Player of the Year 1994-95 24-10 Won preseason National Invitational Tournament and Reaches 2nd Round of Postseason NIT; Gary Trent Named MAC Player of the Year & 3rd Team AP All-America; Drafted 1st Round (11th Pick) in 1995 NBA by Milwaukee 1995-96 16-14 1996-97 17-10 1997-98 5-21 1998-99 18-10 1999-00 20-13 2000-01 19-11 12 yrs 204-148
# - Mid-American Conference Tournament Champion # - Mid-American Conference Regular-Season Champion
25 year head coaching record: 509-224
As Assistant at North Carolina State 2001-02 23-11 ACC Tournament Final; NCAA Championship 2nd Round 2002-03 ^ 18-13 ACC Tournament Final; NCAA Championship 1st Round 2003-04 ^ 21-10 ACC Tournament Semifinal; NCAA Championship 2nd Round 2004-05 ^ 21-14 ACC Tournament Semifinal; NCAA Championship Sweet 16
^ - Associate Head Coach at N.C. State
Winningest Active Division I
Men's Basketball Coaches By Victories
Coach, Current School Wins 1. Bob Knight, Texas Tech 854 2. Eddie Sutton, Oklahoma State 781 3. Lute Olson, Arizona 740 4. John Chaney, Temple 724 5. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke 721 6. Jim Calhoun, Connecticut 703 Jim Boeheim, Syracuse 703 8. Billy Tubbs, Lamar 624 9. Tom Davis, Drake 568 10. Bob Huggins, Cincinnati 567 11. Tom Penders, Houston 545 12. Gary Williams, Maryland 541 13. Homer Drew, Valparaiso 538 14. Larry Hunter, WESTERN CAROLINA 509 15. Ben Braun, California 503 OTHERS OF NOTE WITH AT LEAST 300 WINS Roy Williams, North Carolina 470 Rick Pitino, Louisville 449 Kelvin Sampson, Oklahoma 436 John Beilein, West Virginia 427 Rick Barnes, Texas 363 Dave Odom, South Carolina 354 Tubby Smith, Kentucky 343 Bobby Lutz, Charlotte 315