Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation

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Harvey Hunt

Hunt was pioneer for Cubs

By CHRIS LARICK
Staff Writer

One of the best male high school basketball players in Ashtabula County
history didn't even play as a senior.
That wasn't Harvey Hunt's fault. His family moved from Cleveland to
Williamsfield when he was 16. Since Cleveland was on a different system than
Ashtabula County schools were, Hunt was placed in the freshman class. By the
time he was a senior, he was 19, too old to play high school ball under Ohio
High School Athletic Association rules.
During the three years he did play at Williamsfield from 1955 to 1957,
though, Hunt amassed 1,028 points, ?? in county history among male players.
At 6-foot-6, 280 pounds, Hunt was a giant among players of his era, and
would even be an imposing player today. But he didn't rely on size alone,
Hunt said in a telephone interview with Star Beacon Sports Editor Don
McCormack in 1998.
"When I played in high school, I always tried to outsmart my opponents
first," Hunt said. "If I had to use my size, though, I would.
"I always tell all the young guys, OIf you don't have the brains to figure
out how to beat someone, you'll eventually run into someone bigger, stronger
and faster.' "
Hunt became the second county player to reach the 1,000-point plateau,
reaching the milestone in Feb., 1957, but wasn't even aware of the fact.

"I don't think any of us realized it," he said. "I guess it was no big
deal."
It didn't seem that Hunt would even approach 1,000 during his freshman year
at Williamsfield, when he averaged just 7.9 points a game in 1954-55,
scoring 111 points in 13 games.
"I was absolutely terrible my freshman season," Hunt said. "I was really
bad. I didn't know what I was doing. I wanted to play football, but
Williamsfield was too small a school to have a football team."
That summer Hunt went back to Cleveland and played basketball all summer.
"I just figured if I was going to play, I was going to try and play the game
well," he said.
He made his mark the next year, his sophomore season. A left-handed center,
Hunt scored 376 points that year, averaging 18.8 points a game.
That was just a prelude to his junior year, when he scored at a rate the
county had never seen to that point < 541 points in 20 games, a 27.1
average. The total points and average were a county record that stood until
the 1987-88 season and remain the second-highest in county history.
Scholastically, things weren't going so well < until fate, and a certain
teacher stepped in.
"I was very lackadaisical about my studies," he said. "But I had an English
teacher, Mrs. Christie. For some reason, she took an interest in me. She
went out of her way for me and showed how important getting an education
was."
The defining moment in Hunt's junior season came on Feb. 8, 1957, when the
Williamsfield Cubs met the Austinburg Pioneers in an important Ashtabula
County League game. When the rest of Hunt's Williamsfield team struggled,
Hunt took control.
"All I knew that night was that we were struggling as a team and that every
time I shot the ball it was going in. They couldn't stop me. As it turned
out, we needed every point I scored that night."
By halftime Hunt had 30 points. He wound up with 53 as Williamsfield
prevailed, 83-81.
When a man at the scorer's table informed him of the 30 he had scored by
then, his Cubs' teammates were angry.
"They knew scoring points was not important to me," Hunt said. "I just
wanted to win."
With no football team at Williamsfield and with basketball barred to him
because of his age, Hunt was restricted to track and field as a senior,
naturally standing out in that sport, too. He also became president of the
student council and a member of National Honor Society.
"I had a lot of fun during those high school years," Hunt said in 1998. "All
of us kids grew up together and hung out together."
Even though he never played football at Williamsfield and didn't play
basketball as a senior, Kent State University offered Hunt a scholarship
when he graduated.
For two years he played both football and basketball for the Golden Flashes.
In football he played both ways, as a defensive right tackle and offensive
left tackle.
"After two years, I gave up football because I couldn't spend enough time on
my studies," he said. "Those first two years ended up costing me because I
had to go to school an extra year because I didn't get serious about my
studies until my junior year."
In basketball Hunt started for three years at center for Kent, earning
second-team All-Mid American Conference honors under Bill Bertka, who
eventually moved up to the status of an assistant coach with the Los Angeles
Lakers.
Hunt played against Nate Thurmond, at that time playing for Bowling Green
State University. Thurmond played for the Cleveland Cavaliers late in his
career and is now in the NBA Hall of Fame.
"Nate was the man who woke me up to the fact I couldn't play center," Hunt
said. "He was enormous. The best I could do was to try to outsmart him
because he was so big (6-11, 275)."
After graduating from Kent in 1963, Hunt enlisted in the Air Force and was
sent to King Salmon, Alaska instead of Vietnam, where that infamous war was
being waged.
Married in 1963 and divorced in 1991, Hunt is the father of three. His sons,
now 41 and 34, played college football at the University of Massachusetts
and Hampton University. His daughter was an Olympic-caliber volleyball player before a knee injury forced her out of the game. Hunt left the Air Force in 1976 and worked for a chemical company in Montgomery, Ala. until 1980 when he was hired as an equal opportunity officer for the Internal Revenue Service in Boston. In 1985 he became a physical security officer for the IRS in Andover, Mass.
Though he grew up as a black man during a period of racial strife in the country, Hunt experienced little racism in Ashtabula County. "In the '50s and '60s, those types of attitudes were there," he said. "But I
can't say enough great things about the people of the Williamsfield area and
Ashtabula County.
"I never experienced any name calling or anything like that. Everyone we
played against played me straight; there were no cheap shots."