Hunter and his son, R.J., were the authors of the greatest moment in Georgia State sports annals and one of the giddiest in NCAA history. On March 15, 2015, the 14th-seeded Panthers rallied from 12 points behind inside the final three minutes and stunned third-seeded Baylor on the younger Hunter’s winning 3-point shot with 2.7 seconds remaining. This prompted his father, who’d torn his Achilles in celebration of winning the Sun Belt title four days earlier, to fall from the rolling chair he was using on the sideline.
This year's Panthers went 24-10, finishing first in the Sun Belt and beating SEC teams Georgia (by 24 points) and Alabama in non-conference play. Hunter expressed hopes of a similar NCAA upset of No. 3 Houston, but his Panthers fell behind 15-3 in the first four minutes Friday and lost, 84-55. With junior star D'Marcus Simonds announcing his intention to declare for the NBA draft after the game, Georgia State will be without its four top players next season.
Beyond that, Hunter had begun to chafe over the Sun Belt’s middling status. It’s a one-bid league, meaning that only the winner of the conference tournament gets to grace the Big Dance. Indeed, Hunter’s best GSU team — the 2014 bunch that went 17-1 in league play — lost by one point in overtime to Lousiana-Lafayette in the tournament final and was relegated to the NIT.
“This (meaning Tulane) is the kind of job I’ve always taken,” said Hunter, who previously had been head coach at IUPUI in Indianapolis. “The expectations are kind of mid-level, and you try to exceed those expectations. Mark my words, I’ll get it done.