From unheralded 3 or 4 star prospect (depending where you looked), to one of the best players UTEP has seen in the past decade, to Julius Erving Award watch list member, and now surefire NBA prospect, Vince Hunter is the definition of how hard work can define the path to your goals.
With hard work, a solid character and personality combo, Vince Hunter has established himself as one of the best dark horse NBA prospects in the 2015 draft.
Hunter broke out during his freshman year at UTEP, notching C-USA Freshman of The Year honors as well as second team All-Conference USA recognition.
As a freshman, Hunter shot 56.8 percent from the field, set a UTEP freshman record with 202 free throw attempts, and led UTEP in scoring during conference play with a 14.5 ppg average.
Hunter saw his NBA prospect profile rise after a stellar freshman year that also included five C-USA Freshman of the Week honors, and avoided a sophomore slump with another strong season following his breakout campaign.
He did something no one had ever done in a Miner uniform since 1963 to open his sophomore year, notching five straight double-doubles to open a season.
Hunter led UTEP in scoring and rebounding in 13 of 33 games last season, and was UTEP's overall leading scorer in 16 games, and leading rebounder in 21 games.
In total Hunter piled up 13 double-doubles, led UTEP in scoring, rebounding, and steals last year, and became just the fourth Miner in school history to collect 300 rebounds in a season for the 2014-15 season.
Important stats at UTEP
Points per game: (2014-15) 14.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg
15 career double-doubles
67 career dunks
Led UTEP in scoring in 26 career games
12 career 20-point scoring games
15 and-1's last season
54.9 career field goal percentage
NBA Combine Measurables
Height: 6'7, Weight: 205 pounds, Wingspan: 6'11
Best games during UTEP career
1/30/2014: vs. LA Tech, 26 points, 9 rebounds
12/19/2013: vs Northwestern State, 13 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks
11/19/2013: vs. Colorado State, 11 points, 15 rebounds
12/21/2013: @ Washington State, 15 points, 8 rebounds
11/30/2014: vs. Washington, 20 points, 13 rebounds
12/08/2014: vs. Incarnate Word: 16 points, 12 rebounds, 7/9 shooting, 21 minutes
12/16/2014: vs. Southeastern Louisiana: 26 points, 11/13 shooting, 7 rebounds
12/19/2014: vs. Arizona, 18 points, 12 rebounds
12/22/2014: vs. Kent State, 18 points, 16 rebounds
02/05/2015: at FIU, 18 points, 7 rebounds, four blocks, and three steals
03/05/2015: vs. North Texas: 18 points, 8 rebounds, five assists, two blocks, two steals.
03/07/2015: vs. Rice, 22 points, 12 rebounds
2015 Draft projections/rankings
Yahoo: #54 to the Utah Jazz
CBS Sports Gary Parish #53 to the Cleveland Cavaliers
NBADraft.net: #53 to the Cleveland Cavaliers
SB Nation's big board: #48 prospect
Draft Express: #52 overall pick
Motor, effort, perimeter defense, toughness, elite rebounding ability, scoring around the rim.
Vince is relentless on the boards, he is relentless defensively, and brings freakish athletic ability to any lineup he is in, and never stops playing hard.
His hands have basketball magnets in them or something, and almost every loose ball, rebound, or put back finds him. He has the ability to take over a game from his effort on the glass on the offensive end.
He can finish strong or finesse his way to the rim, and does a great job of drawing contact, thus getting to the free throw line constantly.
Over the past two seasons, Hunter has worked on his defense, and has improved his footwork that takes his relentless effort to another level in some sequences.
He has a natural, cerebral knowledge of where the ball will land off a bounce, and has strong hands once he grips a rebound or loose ball.
There aren't many people who will out work Vince not only on the floor, but also on the practice floor. He is a dedicated athlete that will only improve due to his will of always improving, and working on his game.
Hunter also brings a Detroit style toughness. He has underrated strength to bang around with bigger players, and played though a sprained knee for most of last season.
What needs work
One glaring weakness from his last college game in March is his perimeter game deficiencies, but from watching the NBA Draft combine, and other clips of his pre-draft workouts, that part of his game is rapidly improving.
But it's not so much a lack of skill, or lack of a perimeter game, to me it's mainly maturity in decision making out on the wing that is the biggest mark of improvement Vince needs to sharpen for the next level.
Adding a go to move from the wing could also help develop that part of this game.
Vince is so active and constantly around the ball, that sometimes he picks up quick fouls that kill momentum, but is another part of the mental maturation Vince is going through via his draft process.
Of course his mid-rang jumper needs some work in being a more efficient scoring weapon in the NBA, even though it was not relied upon in college. Though more importantly his free throw shooting needs plenty of time alone in the gym that will allow him to pick up consistent easy points from the stripe.
As much as Vince is able to get to the line, his free throw shooting will be even more key for a chance at sticking in the NBA. If Vince can be a more effective free throw shooter, his value to a team could raise exponentially.
With his superior athletic ability, motor, ability to score at a high level from around the rim, and his overall A+++ character, Hunter will be a steal and add immediate value to a roster, although he does still need some development and sharpening.
His work ethic and determination to be great is a trait only the top GM's and executives will know about while doing their homework on VH, and trust that Vince will elevate his game with those incredible traits.
Vince has plenty of developing ahead of him, but his NBA life potential will depend on the perfect fit, and system he can thrive in the NBA.
Teams he could fit in perfectly with
Los Angeles Lakers
Golden State Warriors