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8/9/2008 1:03 PM
PF Othello Hunter  (United States)
Ex-Buckeye Hunter now a Hawk
Saturday,  August 9, 2008 3:07 AM
The agent for Othello Hunter says two NBA teams offered to draft the former Ohio State forward in the second round in June provided that Hunter played in Europe this season.

"It's nice to hear your name called on draft night. It's immediate gratification," said the agent, David Lee. "But you wake up six weeks later and you're in Europe. Sometimes it's good to keep your options open."

Because he did, Hunter woke up this morning a member of the Atlanta Hawks. He signed a contract yesterday assuring him of going to training camp with the NBA team Sept. 30.

Hunter is guaranteed half of the NBA's minimum salary for rookies, or $221,057, even if he is waived, Lee said. Hunter is guaranteed the full minimum of $442,114 if he is on the Hawks' roster Dec. 15.

"I know I can play in the NBA," Hunter said from his home in Winston-Salem, N.C. "(The two teams) probably didn't think I could. I can understand that. But I have so much faith in myself that once I put my mind to it, I can do it."

When Hunter decided to go the free-agent route, Lee said he tried to place him with a team such as Atlanta that had no second-round draft picks.

Hunter impressed Hawks officials while playing for their summer-league team in July. The faster tempo of the NBA game enabled him to take advantage of his ability to run and jump more than he could for the Buckeyes last season.

"I'm not going to put down Ohio State because we tried to (play) up and down (the court), but at times we had to run set plays," Hunter said. "In the NBA, everything is much faster … (and) I feel better. I'm better at going up and down than in set plays."

The signing is the latest development in Hunter's improbable saga. He did not play high school ball until he was a senior and played in junior college for two years before transferring to Ohio State. He averaged 9.9 points and 6.5 rebounds last season and did not receive so much as honorable mention on the all-Big Ten team.

When Lee called him Thursday to tell him the Hawks would be sending him the contract by overnight mail, "I started screaming in the car," Hunter said. "My best friend from junior college looked at me like I was crazy.

"I'm kind of blown away about it, like … 'My dream finally came true.' "

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