Indiana Basketball: Takeaways from Kenya Hunter’s media availability

There’s a lot to like from Indiana Basketball coach Kenya Hunter

Newly hired assistant coach Kenya Hunter had his first media availability today and answered 25 minutes of questions regarding his new job. Hunter was hired from Connecticut after former Hoosier assistant Bruiser Flint departed to fill a vacancy at the University of Kentucky. Here are some of the highlights of the interview.

“Most of the reason why I’m here is because of the relationship piece. I’m big on relationships … Archie [Miller] and I have known each other for a very long time, so that was my reason for this time right now … I trust him, I believe in him as a coach, and so that was the reason for this opportunity for me coming to Indiana at this point.”

Who knows what the relationship between Archie Miller and Bruiser Flint was like, but there is a well-known clip of the two coaches in a yelling battle on the sidelines of a game last season. Perhaps it was just a blip, but the argument could be made there wasn’t a great deal of trust between the two.

This is of minimal concern with Hunter because the two already know each other quite well, and the fact that Hunter was drawn away from a good job to coach for Miller speaks volumes about their relationship.

247Sports writer Jeff Rabjohns asked Hunter what he looks for and prioritizes in a recruit:

“First off they gotta be talented … but it’s deeper for me … I think the biggest thing is developing good people … if you’re going to get the most out of the individual prospect, they have to have your trust, and you gotta trust that they’re going to do what they need to do when they get on campus.”

The best teams in sports, college or pro, all have one thing in common: a clearly defined culture. The culture can be absolutely anything, but when you get drafted by the San Antonio Spurs or the New England Patriots, or you accept a scholarship offer to play for Nick Saban at Alabama, you know exactly what you are walking into.

The inside-out recruiting approach is one piece of the puzzle for Indiana, and Hunter’s fondness of recruiting good people is another piece. Talent is important, but sports have taught us time and time again that it isn’t everything. If players don’t trust coaches and vice versa, things can go south quickly. It is comforting to hear Hunter prioritizes character above all else.

Hunter was also asked what skill group he has been working with, as he has a track record for being a great big man developmental coach:

“To be quite honest we haven’t gotten into that … As far as the skill development, we all are on the court with the guards, forwards, and bigs. Right now, Arch hasn’t specifically said which group I am working with.”

This is an interesting thing to note. The pandemic has hindered routine a great deal, but Hunter was expected to mainly work with Indiana’s talented frontcourt. It will be interesting to see if he continues to coach guards and bigs or if Miller makes him specialize down the road.