Updated: Jun 11
Earlier this month, Pro Insight caught up with Luke Hunger (Northfield Mount Hermon/MA and BABC/MA), one of the bigger stock-risers from over the summer.
A 6’10 big, Over the past few months, Hunger performed well at multiple events in front of Pro Insight staff, including the NEPSAC Showcase Gym Rat Live, and Peach Jam. Hunger has a versatile offensive game where he can shoot from the outside or punish smaller bigs on the block.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Hunger talked about how playing hockey has helped his basketball game, what he’s working on, picking up golf, his current recruitment situation, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Luke Hunger, from Montreal, Canada:
Pro Insight: Tell us a bit about your background and where you grew up?
Luke Hunger: I'm born and raised in Montreal, Canada. Started off playing hockey, actually. I was a hockey player pretty much my whole life. Basketball wasn't really in view. My dad did play for Providence back in the original Big East, but it was like when you were in Canada, hockey is just kind of the main sport that you play when you are young. I was brought up playing, I was a very good hockey player as well. A lot of the guys that I played with actually got drafted in the NHL draft. I kind of switched over when I was in grade 8 or grade 9 and I decided I wanted to play both pretty seriously. Then basketball took over a little, that's when I decided to go to school mainly for basketball, now I’m at Northfield Mount Hermon. I don't regret anything, it's been awesome. I love basketball, it's my passion, now. Hockey is great, but basketball is better.
PI: How has your hockey experience impacted your basketball game?
LH: It has definitely made it easier in terms of physicality. In hockey there is a lot of physicality, you know, body checking in the boards and battling in the corners. And that has helped me for my inside game in the post in terms of rubbing shoulders with people and having your head on alert. Those little things. Also with my vision, in hockey you have to have your head up in case someone comes to hit you. That has helped out my passing ability, just always having my head up.
PI: You mentioned your dad played at Providence — how did that help you having someone close to you who played at a high level?
LH: Yeah, he has definitely helped me. He would always tell my coaches when I was young ‘don't put him inside the paint, let him be outside.’ Even though I was the tallest guy, the biggest guy, I always wanted to play on the outside and he knew that the game was becoming more perimeter-oriented. He was always like ‘if he's going to play in the paint, I don't want him on your team.’ And that is what translated over towards my game now; I'm not just an inside player, I'm not just an outside player and he guided me towards that. He told my coaches and told me to work on my outside skills, not just inside. When he was young, coaches would just tell him to stay under the basket and rebound, to not shoot the ball since there are guards for that, etc. That's when he passed the message towards me.
PI: For those who haven’t seen you play, describe some of your greatest strengths on the court.
LH: I would describe myself as a stretch four if you were talking about a prototypical offense. But what we play at school, there are not really any positions, but I would say I'm a stretch big who can also play inside and guard the big centers. I like to use my outside game to create an inside game, and I use my inside game to create an outside game. A little complicated there, but just use my versatility to create mismatches. I like to run the floor every play, I feel like that is one of my main advantages, my motor. I like to outwork anyone. That’s pretty much it.
PI: Since NMH doesn’t have typical positions on the court, how has that impacted your game?
LH: Basically, our offense is everyone touches the ball. Any play that we run there is always going to be a scoring opportunity for every pass that you make. We kind of play a two-guard offense where there are just spots on the court. There isn’t like ‘oh you're a center, you're going to post up. You’re a guard, you play outside.’ Guards cut, they go inside, do a bunch of that type of stuff. That's why we don’t call it positions, there is just the swingman, the guards. Anyone can play anywhere, if you know the whole playbook.
PI: What are you still trying to work on and improve the most?
LH: Something I have really been working on this summer is creating my own shot. That has a lot of elements incorporated into it. My ball handling has to get better in order to create separation for my jump shot. Getting more elevation on my jumper, more consistency. That's what I'm working on. I used to rely a lot on other players to create an open shot for me, but I think to take my game to the next level, I have to be able to create my own shot.
PI: How did you make the decision to come from Canada to NMH?
LH: So one of the main factors was I was in Montreal, and I got invited to the Team Canada U16 team tryouts for the FIBA Americas. I was not going into the camp with any expectations, I was just going there to do the best I can. I actually ended up making that team. And that kind of made me realize that I can actually play at a high level and do well. That's when Northfield Mount Herman came into play and I was like “this is perfect.” There's everything I need here, there is everything I want and I made the move and I don't regret it at all, it's been awesome. I have been able to develop my game every single year playing against a bunch of other really good players and that is basically what made me make the move.
PI: Who has been the toughest individual matchup you’ve faced?
LH: I wouldn't say a person, I would just say Peach Jam, in general. With Peach Jam, every single day, every single game was always a tough matchup. There was always a really good big or a really good player. It was consistently no days off, just always the best competition.
PI: What are your short term goals you have for yourself as a player?
LH: My goal this year is to win a NEPSAC AAA Championship and a National Championship. COVID messed up our year last season, but I still haven't won a championship at NMH and that is the goal this year, to sweep the awards.
PI: What are your long term goals?
LH: A long term goal of mine would probably be to play pro basketball. That is just the highest level I can be at. That is something that I have been dreaming of. My dad played pro in Europe and I would like to follow in his footsteps. That feels like a really good opportunity, not only for basketball, but to be inside a culture in Europe where you can learn different languages and broaden your horizon and learn a bunch of things. That is one of my long-term goals.
PI: How is the recruiting process going for you?
LH: It has been great. It only picked up when I started playing AAU. With our year at NMH, we only had film. It has been great playing in front of coaches at the NEPSAC event and at Peach Jam. It has been great getting feedback from coaches and a lot of work that I've put in this year is showing with all these coaches reaching out. So it has been awesome.
PI: What is your general timeline for making a college decision?
LH: I want to start taking official visits later in September and early October. Once I start visiting schools and getting an idea of what I want then I think I'll have a good idea of what's coming. I don't really have a specific day or anything but once I've taken my official visits and narrowed it down to what I want, I'll be able to make a decision.
PI: What are you looking for in a program when you do make that decision?
LH: Just a school that fits my style of play. That uses their bigs not just inside or not just outside but does everything with them. A school that there is an opportunity to make an impact right away. I've said this many times, nothing is ever guaranteed from coaches and I understand that. But not a spot where there are four or five guys ahead of you already as juniors and seniors. A place where I can earn minutes in the rotation. Then a good coaching staff, genuine, someone who has a plan for me and wants me to succeed.
PI: Do you watch more college or NBA basketball? Is there anyone that you try to emulate your game after?
LH: I would say I started watching a lot more college basketball this year just because it has become a more realistic option for me. Before I didn't think I could play college basketball. I started watching a lot this year. I watched a lot of Luka Garza at Iowa, he was someone I really liked to watch because he is not the most athletic guy, he's not going to jump out of the gym, but he finds ways to score and always is a threat. He has a jumper, he can post up and has different moves. There is always a more athletic guy guarding him, but he always finds those cracks to score. At the pro level I watched a lot this year, I watched a lot of Nikola Jokic. I am nowhere near his level, but I feel like we have some similarities, like how he uses other parts of his game other than his athleticism or his length or his jumping ability, he uses different ways to impact the game. Passing, motor, and skill just create opportunities.
PI: Outside of basketball, what are some of your biggest hobbies?
LH: I have actually started to pick up golf, recently. I started golfing this summer. I like it more for the social aspect than the game, just having a good time with my friends. On the non-athletic side, I downloaded a stock simulation app to simulate trading. My uncle is a financial advisor so having him in our family has been kind of an inspiration. I kind of saw how the whole stock market works and what stocks go up and what stocks go down, which events affect that. So I got into that this summer and it's been great.
PI: Have you been making real life trades using the simulator?
LH: I haven't started with real money. I think I need a lot more experience in terms of that to start going with real money but it has been great to learn, I love learning that kind of stuff. That is the kind of stuff that fascinates me, how markets work and how you can make money off companies and stocks.
PI: If you were going to do something for a career outside of basketball, what would you do?
LH: I feel like I would definitely start my own business. I would find some way to make money, I would find some business that is new, probably in the technology area. I used to make lemonade stands as a kid to make money so I would just find a way to start a business and make money.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
LH: I would probably say ‘go with your gut, just do what your gut is telling you.’ That goes for everything, for a decision, all that kind of stuff. That is a lot with the recruiting process now, if something doesn't feel right, just go with your gut. It has been a lot more than one person [telling me that] it's been friends, family, coaches. They have just always said go with what your body is telling you. Your body will never point you in the wrong direction.
PI: What are four words that best describe you?
LH: Encouraging. Positive. Happy. Competitive.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
LH: I want to be remembered as a good person, as a good teammate, as a good friend, as a good family member. Someone who has always been a positive in someone's life and just making a good impact on people. Keeping good friendships and good family relationships with people. In general, just being a good person.