Here is a transcript of some of today’s interviews with R.J. Hunter, who announced on Monday that he will leave Georgia State after his junior season and make himself eligible for the NBA draft.
Q: When did you know that you could be an NBA player?
A: I think after my freshman year. I think I improved a lot and was doing things that a lot of people weren’t doing as freshmen. I just tried to continue to build from that and the coaches developed me so good here. I think that’s an underrated part.
Q: What stuff was that? The stuff you did as a freshman.
A: Just scoring 38 as a freshman. I hadn’t scored 38 my whole life. To do that as a freshman in college, I knew that something going to go off.
Q: It sounded like yall knew this was coming. But you knew last week and officially told him last night.
A: Yeah. The tournament made it hard. I felt so connected to the school at that point. I just sat down and looked at the roster and they don’t need me here. People laugh but they don’t need me here. There are good players here. Once I felt like the time was up and the script was written it was time for me to move on.
Q: Was there a moment when you decided that you were going to do this?
A: Last week when I was watching an NCAA game and I felt like I gave all I could possibly give. I’ve had so much time invested in this university and they have reciprocated it back to me.
Q: Your dad was saying that maybe if you didn’t make the tournament this year you might come back. Going to the tournament and winning a game, you had accomplished everything you wanted to accomplish.
A: Before the season, it was ‘can you get to the tournament? can you get to the tournament?’ now ‘it’s like can you get to the Sweet 16?’
As long as we keep raising those expectations that’s all right with me. That’s how I know it’s time to go because those expectations changed from getting to the Sun Belt tournament to making it to the Sweet 16. That’s all I can ask for.
Q: What was it like talking to your teammates?
A: It was tough. I definitely cried. I cried a lot this morning. That’s the toughest part of it all. I love these guys. A bunch of unselfish guys. I’ve gotten a bunch of spotlight that I felt I shouldn’t have and they should have. They weren’t jealous or envious. That was the toughest part.
Q: Your dad said you have gotten pretty positive feedback from G.M’s. Was that a big factor or would you have made this decision no matter what they said?
A: That was definitely a big factor. We’ve had 30-plus GMs through this gym – again that is an expectation Georgia State has now, we get GMs through this gym – so I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback. I’ve heard anywhere from 15 to 35. The thing about the draft is you don’t know until draft night. All I can do is just prepare myself as much as possible.
Q: Your dad said another year likely wouldn’t have improved your stock.
A: Another year here is another year of trying while the defenses are keyed in on you. In the middle of the season that becomes a physical and mental tax.
Q: In the 30s would put you in the second round. Any concern?
A: Either way I’m going to have to work my way up. The first round doesn’t guarantee me anything. It guarantees me years but there are drafts every year. At the end of the day I have to prepare myself not for my first three years or first two years in the league, I’m preparing for a long career, a long tenure.
Q: How many people call you Prince now?
A: Dude, it’s like my name. They yell ‘Prince’ on the sidewalk and I’m looking around. I’ve got to stop reacting. I have to cut my hair and get rid of the curls coming down my face. My mom’s a big Prince fan so that’s making this a bit awkward.
Q: During the decision process did you get emotional at all or did you keep it on an intellectual level?
A: That’s another part, during the season you have to keep that in. So now during the season and you are trying to keep everything else external. It’s just a lot that gone on when you are thinking about the NBA and trying to be a college student-athlete.
Q: Must be nice that you’ll be remembered not only here, but on that reel every year (for the winner against Baylor).
A: I love Georgia State, I swear I do, but me being on ‘One Shining Moment’ is the coolest thing ever. People say it will be on every year.
Q: Are you going to complete your degree so that you can perhaps get your jersey retired?
A: Absolutely. When I first got here I remember thinking I want my 22 up there. I always felt that space was for me. You see that gap there. I feel like that’s there for me. The degree is something I have to do anyway, but that’s a little extra motivation.
Q: You dad said your mom is on you about it.
A: She was like ‘congrats, but where’s your homework?’
Q (from Mike Tierney, who asked a lot of these questions): When you were on TV, I showed the video to my adult kids when your dad was talking and you were rolling your eyes like, ‘come on.’ They could relate to that. At some point, with all of the appearances you made with your dad, did it feel cool at all or did most of the time were you thinking, ‘dad, chill out.’
A: I was definitely putting on a front. It was the coolest thing ever to see him. To not even see him do it but to go through it with him. He’s having an absolute ball with this media stuff if yall can’t understand. He’s probably hopping around here right now.
At that point I was so happy for my dad. It was finally at that point a father-son moment instead of a coach-player.
Just so happy for that dude.