Celtics

Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. – For as long as R.J. Hunter has played basketball, the skinny on him has been … he’s really skinny.

So it only made sense that a chance meeting with Reggie Miller, known for his lithe frame and lethal 3-pointers in big games, would be one of the more impactful moments in Hunter’s basketball journey.

As Hunter began to explain his approach to not allowing his lack of weight (he's listed at 185 pounds) impact his play, he recalled what Miller told him last year at the Final Four in Indianapolis.

“You always have to be crafty when you’re skinny,” Hunter recalled. “You have to be smarter when you’re skinny.”

And while Hunter’s career in the NBA has yet to take off, the rookie has shown the kind of high level basketball I.Q. that will bode well for his chances of playing sooner rather than later for the Celtics.

“At this level, everybody’s smart,” Hunter said. “I kind of blend in with that. The guys I’m playing with are smart so that helps; these guys are talented and smart.”

The same has been said about Hunter who has impressed coaches and players with his ability to pick up on subtle nuances of the game that takes time for most young players.

“He’s going to be really good,” said Celtics assistant coach Walter McCarty.

And while it is his perimeter shooting that made him a first round pick of the Celtics, he has shown the ability to impact the game defensively and with his passing.

Showing versatility is something Hunter has always wanted.

“It’s not like I’m going out there fishing for plays,” he said. “That’s just natural to me; putting myself in the right position is half of it.”

Continued progress in his passing and shooting will give him the best shot at playing a few minutes here and there, but ultimately Hunter’s success will be in how well he can shoot the ball – something one of the players he looked up to, Reggie Miller, did about as well as any guard of his generation.

In fact, it was Hunter’s game-winning 3-pointer that lifted Georgia State past Baylor 57-56 in the second round of last season’s NCAA Tournament, that paved the way for Hunter to meet Miller – sort of.

Hunter was at a hotel during the Final Four in Indianapolis when he saw Miller in an elevator with his back turned.

“I said, ‘Reggie can I get a picture? He said, ‘No picture.’ He turned around right when it closed and he saw me and recognized me and said, ‘Oh, shooter!” Hunter recalled.

Hunter added, “After that he sat down with me for a little bit and talked to me and said you have to be smarter and crafty if you’re skinny.”

Even now Hunter still gets quite a bit of attention from that shot.

But he’s hoping to give folks something else to remember him for very soon.

“Personally I will enjoy it down the road but right now I want it to be over,” Hunter said. “I enjoy it, but I want to hit a big shot here.”