The basketball-playing days of Ripley's Jamison Hunt come to a close; a new chapter awaits

Mark Martin
Special to Jackson Newspapers
Jamison Hunt, a former Ripley basketball standout, recently wrapped up his college basketball career at Ohio Valley University. The school announced it is shutting down after 60 years. Hunt is planning a career in coaching and teaching.
Hunt, now in his senior season, is shown taking one of the final shots of his career at OVU.

Heading into the 2021-22 college basketball season, Jamison Hunt knew this would be his final time as a competitive player on the court.

Hunt had braced himself for this final season and the day when it would all end.

He’d fallen in love with the game at a very young age. His father, Steve, has been a successful coach at both the high school and collegiate level. He currently is serving as an assistant at Ripley High School.

“Being around dad, it’s like I was raised in a gym my whole life,” said Hunt, a Class AAA First Team All-Stater in 2017 for Ripley.

Though he would still have had a season of eligibility remaining for the 2022-23 campaign, Hunt had decided the current one would be the last.

He was looking forward to it and ready to do whatever possible to help his Ohio Valley University Scots be successful.

And then it happened.

The final season he was ready to cherish, came to a crashing halt.

Usually, a season, and many times a career, end suddenly with an injury.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for Jamison Hunt.

But how his days of playing basketball did finish up is something he could never have fathomed.

On the day of Dec. 7, in which OVU had a game that night, the school announced the closing of its doors at semester's end.

Hunt said he had heard the school was in tough shape financially.

But never in his wildest dreams did he see this coming.

Despite the announcement earlier in the day, the Scots chose to play Salem University in what was a surreal moment for many, including Jamison Hunt. 

“That was really strange,” he said.

Hunt started the game and saw 22 minutes of action. He finished with two rebounds and an assist. 

Hunt hated what the closing of the school, which had existed for 60 years, meant to many people, including his head coach. 

Mike Snell, who had guided the men's basketball program at the school for 14 seasons, and gave Hunt a new opportunity to play, finds himself without a job. 

“Coach Snell is a good person and we had gotten to really know each other a lot better this season,” Hunt said of the long-time Scot head coach. "He has a great personality."

Hunt noted that in recent years, Snell had lost both his wife and father.

“OVU and the basketball team were like his family,” Hunt said.

The family atmosphere of the Vienna-based school is something Hunt enjoyed during his short time there.

“I met some really nice people,” said Hunt, who spent his first three years as a college basketball player at West Virginia State University in Institute. “It’s a small school and you see the same people every day.”

Hunt made his way to OVU initially for a shot at more playing time on the court.

He grew to love the school and is sad it ended the way in which it did.

While he had been hearing about the school's financial problems, there was hope things would get better as the season moved along.

There was excitement on the campus of OVU from an athletic standpoint before the new school year started.

OVU left NCAA Division II to join the ranks of NAIA (National Intercollegiate Athletic Association) and also became a new member of the highly-competitive River States Conference.

The time spent as a member of NAIA and the RSC was short-lived.

OVU lost to Salem in that final game to finish at 1-9. 

One of the bright spots for Hunt during the season was scoring three points, grabbing four rebounds, handing out an assist and coming up with a steal in 22 minutes of play against highly-regarded WVU-Tech.

Another was against Pikeville where he played 18 minutes. He scored two points, pulled down a pair of rebounds, dished out one assist and produced a steal.

The Pikeville game provided Hunt with the opportunity to face off with his head coach from high school in Evan Faulkner, who is an assistant with the Eastern Kentucky school.

"That was great getting to see Coach Faulkner," Hunt said.

Hunt is in good shape from an academic standpoint, earning a teaching degree from the school.

As the saying goes, “When one door closes, another one opens.”

The closing of OVU’s doors has Jamison Hunt in search of entering doors to the coaching and teaching profession.

“For right now, I am going to sub as much as I can,” he said.

Hunt also is hopeful of helping with the Ripley High basketball program.

Ultimately, he wants to coach at the collegiate level.

“That’s the goal,” he said. “I’d love to get a shot at being a GA (graduate assistant) somewhere.”

Hunt knows he will miss playing the game of basketball.

It’s something he has been doing for as long as he can remember.

His work ethic earned him recognition as one of the state’s elite players when he was in high school.

And it allowed him to keep playing in college.

But with that chapter of his life now over (sooner than expected), he’s ready to take on whatever lies ahead.

He knows it will be different, but adversity is a part of being an excellent coach and teacher. The OVU situation will make him stronger in all aspects.

He's ready to take on new challenges and get started.

And anyone who has followed Jamison Hunt through the years knows he will be successful.