CINCINNATI -- Brandon Hunter has played basketball all over the world, from his days at Ohio University to a 10-year professional career, and yet he still remembers the best game he played at Withrow High School.
The year: 1998. The opponent: Aiken. The stakes: High.
The winner of the Division I regional semifinal at the University of Dayton moved on to face Colonel White in the regional championship, and Withrow trailed by 17 points fairly quickly after tip-off.
“It was 17-0 and then 19-2. We called two timeouts within four minutes. And then we Michael Phelps’d them,” Hunter said, laughing.
Withrow stormed back to win 63-60 in overtime.
“We beat Colonel White and went to state. It was my first year (of varsity basketball) because I only played two years of high school -- in 11th and 12th grade -- and that game against Aiken was the most memorable. I’ll never forget it,” Hunter said.
Hunter and the Tigers advanced to the Final Four but lost to Lakewood St. Edward in a 62-52 state semifinal at St. John’s Arena in Columbus.
Just last week Hunter, 36, was inducted into the Withrow Athletic Hall of Fame with Xavier product and NBA standout Tyrone Hill, Horace Pumphrey (football), Joe Brefeld (baseball, basketball, football) and Skyler Willis (volleyball, track).
Hunter graduated from Withrow in 1999 and became an accomplished college player at Ohio U. The 6-foot-7 forward led the nation in rebounding (12.6 per game) and double-doubles (24) as a senior and was selected by the Boston Celtics in the 2003 NBA draft's second round.
Although he bounced around between franchises, Hunter’s consistent playing days in the NBA ended in Orlando in 2005. He went on to play in places like Greece, Italy, Puerto Rico and Turkey.
Today, Hunter spends most of his days in Cincinnati. He and his wife, Mary, have two children: Andrew, 8, and Tristan, 3.
His professional endeavors include real estate ventures through his company, Hunter & Savage Group, and basketball. He’s the president of operations for KMG Sports Management and a National Basketball Players Association certified agent.
Hunter’s real estate company, HSG, an entity within Coldwell Banker West Shell and his business partner is Dr. Rashida Savage. Long drawn to entrepreneurial ventures, Hunter always knew he wanted to explore the field.
“I told myself that once I was done playing, I was going to go to school for real estate and get my license no matter where I was,” Hunter said. “I initially was living in Florida and then I moved back up here. So no matter where I was -- Texas, Florida, the (Upper Peninsula) -- I just wanted to get my license and get a better idea of transactions and everything that goes on behind the scenes.”
He still flips houses in Florida and provides referrals for buyers purchasing homes outside the area. The consistency of real estate, as well as the opportunity to run his own business, suits Hunter. It’s also an outlet from basketball, although he never strays far from that passion.
With KMG, Hunter manages, markets and negotiates players’ professional contracts. He also recruits college coaches and athletic directors.
“I initially wanted to go into coaching. But with my background and everything that I learned about the collective bargaining agreement in the NBA and the transactions I’ve seen while living abroad, the understanding of how teams recruit and how different styles are in different countries, I decided to go into management. I thought it would be where I would blossom and be the best,” Hunter said.
He started researching professional contracts in 2013, the final year of his playing career, in France. Once home, Hunter took classes at Northern Kentucky University’s Chase College of Law.
There are elements of professional hoops that he misses, like camaraderie with teammates and the beauty of living in Tel Aviv, but his family has a solid support system in town. And with the Withrow induction, his life has in many ways come full circle.
Hunter was humbled to be included among his alma mater’s finest athletes.
“It’s monumental for a school like Withrow because the tradition is so rich and there have been so many players,” Hunter said. “It’s definitely an honor."