The Georgia State men’s basketball team earned an ESPY nomination for Best Upset after its shocking win over Baylor in this year’s NCAA Tournament, but the star of that squad won’t be on hand for the festivities.
Instead, R.J. Hunter will be spending his Wednesday night a few hundred miles away in Las Vegas, where his new team, the Boston Celtics, currently is competing in the NBA’s Vegas summer league.
“I just felt like I came here to do things with my team, and taking that trip would have got me off track,” Hunter said Wednesday, via the Boston Herald. “Besides, some of my (Georgia State) teammates are there so we’re represented.
“It was a tough decision, but every time I seem to make a decision based on basketball, basketball seems to take care of me. The (Celtics) coaches haven’t said anything to me about it, but I get the sense they agree this was the right thing. I’ve been around the sport for so long, it seems like the natural thing to do.”
Hunter’s father and college coach, Ron, agreed with his son’s decision to stay.
“I wasn’t going to let him go,” the elder Hunter, who will attend the ESPYs, told the Herald. “Things are going so well with the Celtics, I was leaving him there.
“This is a dad move right here — and he agreed with me. He’s been going pretty hard since that time leading up to the draft, so the best thing was to leave him here.”
R.J. Hunter, who hit the game-winning 3-pointer in Georgia State’s ESPY-nominated upset, has impressed for the Celtics after a slow start to summer league. The 28th overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, Hunter has averaged 16.3 points over Boston’s last four games — all wins — after being held scoreless in each of its first two.
The Celtics’ 3-0 showing in pool play in Las Vegas earned them the No. 2 seed in the tournament’s playoff bracket. Their next game is Wednesday night against either the Minnesota Timberwolves or the Portland Trail Blazers.
Four of the last five ESPY Awards for Best Upset have gone to NCAA Tournament victories. Battling Georgia State for the honor this year are Ole Miss football’s upset of No. 3-ranked Alabama and the Kansas City Royals’ surprise run to the American League pennant.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@leahysean