NCAA

Ron, R.J. Hunter Gave Us the Best Father-Son Moment in March Madness History

The yearly NCAA Tournament has produced many father-son moments over the years. Greg and Doug McDermott are one of the most consistent father-son duos in March Madness history; Lon and Kevin Kruger pulled off a surprising upset over No. 2-seed Wisconsin in 2007. Yet perhaps the single greatest March Madness father-son moment came to us in 2015, courtesy of Ron and R.J. Hunter.

The Georgia State coach and shooting guard combined to produce an exceptional NCAA moment. Let’s look at both of their basketball careers, as well as the moment they’ll never forget.

Ron Hunter’s career as a college basketball coach

Ron Hunter has a long career as a college basketball coach. He took his first assistant coaching position back in 1987, spending six years in the role at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Then he accepted a one-year assistant coaching position at Miami University in Ohio.

Finally, in 1994, Ron got his first head coach position at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). When he took over, the Jaguars were part of the NAIA program. However, under his leadership, they became an NCAA Division I team. In 2003, Ron guided IUPUI to its first and only March Madness appearance (so far).

Ron stayed at IUPUI until 2011 when he took a new job as the head coach of the Georgia State University. He spent eight years there and coached his son R.J. for three of them. Ron led the Panthers to three regular-season championships, three conference tournament championships, and three NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2019, he became Tulane University’s new head coach.

R.J. Hunter’s college basketball career

R.J. spent three years playing basketball at Georgia State University, from 2012 to 2015. The starting guard quickly established himself as one of the Panthers’ most potent offensive weapons. R.J. saw his per-game scoring increase from 17 points as a freshman to 19.7 points as a junior.

Over those three years, R.J. also averaged 4.8 rebounds 2.4 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. He proved himself a capable long-distance marksman, knocking down 35.4% of his three-point attempts. In recognition of his stellar play, R.J. won the Sun Belt Player of the Year Award twice and earned two First-team All-Sun Belt selections.

The guard declared for the NBA draft after his junior year. The Boston Celtics selected R.J. with the 28th pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. After stints with the Celtics and Chicago Bulls, he’s played for a variety of NBA G-League teams.

The greatest father-son moment in March Madness history

The ultimate father-son moment came during R.J.’s final year with Georgia State. The team reached the NCAA Tournament with the No. 14 seed. While celebrating the team’s entrance into the tournament, coach Ron had torn his Achilles tendon. As a result, he spent the Panthers’ first-round match against Baylor coaching from a stool.

With less than three minutes in the game, the Panthers’ found themselves down by 12 points. A loss seemed all but assured — until R.J. took over. He led his team to a win by scoring 12 of the final 13 points. And his go-ahead three-pointer came with just 2.6 seconds on the clock.

R.J. Hunter of the Georgia State Panthers celebrates with his father head coach Ron Hunter during 2015 March Madness
R.J. celebrates with his father and Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter | Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The deep shot was so incredible and so clutch that Ron immediately threw his hands in the air — and did a face-plant right off of his stool. Although the fall was completely unintentional and probably a little painful, it was a perfect reaction to a huge shot. March Madness fans still recall it and smile, seeing the joy between father and son in the exciting moment.