Coming off an All-BCL season, arguably the best by far in his career, Vince Hunter just finished the 2018-19 campaign with AEK and seems ready to embark on new adventures. The 24-year-old center averaged 18 points and 8.1 rebounds in a total of 18 Basketball Champions League games with the 2018 title holders, whilst being a bit less effective in the Greek League (13.7 points and 5.2 rebounds).
Given the fact that AEK and Peristeri were the last couple of teams to be left playing the Greek play-offs, after the finals were concluded and Panathinaikos were crowned champions, it’s no wonder why Hunter and his teammates almost “prayed” for this season to be over. The “Queen” played no less than 12 play-off matches, clinching the third place, while the “Greens” needed only 8 steps to reach the top once again.
After AEK had prevailed by 3-1 in the series over Peristeri, Vince Hunter met with TalkBasket.net in order to talk about his standout season and his future plans.
Q: How has this season been for you?
A: It’s been a long season and I’m tired. It’s time to see my family, my mother. We didn’t get really the goals we wanted but we fought through a lot of adversities and injuries and I’m proud of all of my team. Sometimes things don’t go our way. We just came up short in a couple of games in the season.
Q: Do you think that this version of AEK didn’t have the luck that the 2017-18 team had?
A: If we had just half of the luck that we had last year, we would have been OK. We had some bad injuries and there were times when we needed people. That hurt us in the end. The injury of Maciulis was definitely a big blow for us. We had a lot of older guys playing a lot of minutes, me playing a lot of minutes. However, we had injuries all year and we never used them as an excuse.
Q: You were the first -and sometimes the only- choice for AEK in the center position. How did you manage?
A: I was trying to take care of my body. It was tough for me because fatigue and tiredness came down the line. It was hard to stay focused and keep taking care of my body. It helped me through the whole season to stay healthy, although I still had some knick-knack injuries, but I got over them quick. I had been receiving treatment throughout the whole year. Our physiotherapists worked very hard and they deserve credit for it.
Q: Regarding the Greek League, how did you react to all the news and developments?
A: It was a tough situation for us. We wanted to play against the best and beat them. That threw the whole play-offs off, with Olympiacos not playing and Panathinaikos losing. Whatever they were going to do, we still had to stay focused and play. We had a little break and had to deal with it. I don’t know if it was good or bad, but all I can say is that we came up short in Game 5 of the semifinals.
Q: Were you affected by what was happening?
A: Me personally, yes, because we’ve been here, away from our families, for so many months. Once you hear that they prolong the season, the fatigue factor comes in. You get out of game-shape by not playing.
Q: What does this season mean to you personally?
A: It meant a lot. This was my first full season playing European basketball. I was very locked in and determined to prove to people and to myself that I can play on the highest level.
Q: Have you started “collecting” offers?
A: I’ve been hearing people talking lately, but I chose not to talk to my agent about the offers until my season with AEK was officially over with. When I’m officially done with AEK, that’s when I’ll start looking at other offers, but right now I have no clue who wants me. All I’ve been hearing is rumours.
Q: Which are your priorities?
A: I want to play in the Euroleague or the NBA. Ofcourse, NBA is the highest level, but Euroleague is definitely the highest level over here. I definitely want to play there and I think I’m ready.
Q: Will you try the Summer League?
A: No, just a couple of workouts with some teams that have shown interest in me, but not too much because I had a long season. Nothing’s scheduled yet.