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June 10, 2013When news first broke that assistant coach Ben Johnson was leaving Nebraska to take a job at his alma mater Minnesota, Husker head coach Tim Miles said he planned on taking as much time as possible to find the perfect candidate to fill his staff.
Nearly two months later, Miles finally found his man.
Miles announced via a press release on Monday morning that he had officially hired Georgetown assistant Kenya Hunter as his third full-time assistant coach, joining Craig Smith and Chris Harriman. Hunter, who was with the Hoyas for the past six seasons, was the longest-tenured assistant under head coach John Thompson III.
"I'm really excited to add Kenya Hunter to our staff," Miles said in a statement. "He brings a wealth of experience in many areas which will help the Huskers reach our goals. Through my discussions with Kenya, I was very impressed with his knowledge of the game and his feel for the game, and I believe his extensive network of contacts will help us expand our recruiting boundaries."
Prior to his time at Georgetown, Hunter spent three years as an assistant at Xavier under current Arizona head coach Sean Miller from 2004-07. Before that he was the director of basketball operations at North Carolina State (2000-04) and an assistant at his alma mater Duquesne (1998-00), where he was also a four-year letter winner as a point guard.
In his 15 years of coaching experience, Hunter has helped his teams to 11 postseason appearances, including 10 NCAA Tournaments.
What makes Hunter the most valuable to Nebraska is his recruiting connections, though. The Arlington, Va., native helped Georgetown pull in three recruiting classes ranked in the top 25 nationally, including having a direct hand in signing 11 players ranked in the top 100.
Once those players got to campus, Hunter helped develop five first-team All-Big East selections, two Big East freshmen of the year, and last season's Big East Player of the Year, Otto Porter, a projected top-five NBA draft pick. In all, Hunter will have coached five eventual NBA players.
The hiring comes just in time for the Huskers as well. In less than a month, the second round of NCAA basketball recruiting evaluation periods will get underway in July, and it was crucial for Miles to have a complete staff in place before hitting the road. Hunter's East Coast recruiting connections should open up some important doors, especially when Rutgers and Maryland join the Big Ten Conference in 2014.
Ron Bailey of HoyaReport.com said not only will Hunter give the Huskers immediate in-roads to top prospects across the country, but also another talented basketball mind to add to their bench.
"While at Georgetown, Hunter proved himself as a good bench coach, one that seemingly related well with players," Bailey said. "It was common for him to be a calming, stabilizing influence during games, one that dispensed corrective advice as well.
"In terms of recruiting, it's pretty clear Hunter is a rising star, as he has broadened his footprint in that regard. The Huskers can expect to be involved with kids from across the nation via Hunter, with a focus on the District-Maryland-Virginia region, North Carolina and Virginia proper, as well as points north of the DMV.
"He's also a person that can communicate with people of various walks of life."