Graduate student guard Hunter Crist is one of the newest additions to the Binghamton men’s basketball team this season. After playing at Wisconsin-Green Bay for three seasons, Crist graduated and transferred to BU, where he will be pursuing his master’s degree while playing on the team. Around the time Crist was considering Binghamton as his destination, he spoke with men’s basketball head coach Tommy Dempsey over the phone, whom he cited as a major influence for choosing to play at Binghamton.
“Coach Dempsey seemed like a player’s type of coach,” Crist said. “I like the relationship we were able to form, unfortunately just over the phone since we weren’t able to come to campus. Even at that, I thought he did a great job of breaking everything down for me from a player’s standpoint and being honest with me from the get-go.”
Crist hails from Cicero, Indiana, where he attended Don Bosco Preparatory High School. He was a standout as a senior, averaging 15.1 points, 6.7 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. His inclinations to play basketball early on stemmed from his dad, who played basketball in college as well. Growing up, Crist remembers the influence his dad had on developing his passion for the game.
“My family’s always been big basketball enthusiasts,” Crist said. “I’ve kind of always been around the game, and my dad got me started at a young age. Playing throughout the summer, my passion and my competitiveness took over from that point on.”
Besides his father, Crist has sought inspiration from one of the NBA’s most exciting players: Stephen Curry. He is particularly fond of Curry’s flashy play style and leadership presence with his teammates and others.
“I’ve always been a big Steph Curry fan growing up,” Crist said. “I followed him when he was at Davidson and now at Golden State. I love the way he plays, I love his leadership on and off the court and the type of man he is. He’s always been a big inspiration to me.”
While at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Crist experienced his share of ups and downs. He didn’t have the basketball career he set out to have, acting primarily as a reserve player, but he came away with valuable takeaways from his time there. Mainly, he got the experience of playing basketball at the collegiate level and developing his skills, which he can showcase as he transitions to Binghamton.
“I definitely did not have the career at Green Bay that I wanted, but it was still a great experience,” Crist said. “I got those years under my belt. I was able to learn and grow and meet some of my closest friends that I played with there. I used that to grow and mold the person I am now and keep developing my skill set.”
While Binghamton has yet to play a game this season, Crist has begun to notice differences in the playing style at BU from practices. There is a greater emphasis on teamwork and strategy, tactics he thought were lacking at Wisconsin-Green Bay. The Bearcats strive to play through each other, not relying on certain individuals to carry the load for the team.
“At Green Bay, everything was minimal play,” Crist said. “Get the ball, roll it out and play, score it and transition. Here, it’s more team-oriented and relying on each other. If we can’t score in transition, then we’re gonna run a half-court set and play through each other.”
Equipped with age and experience, Crist is coming into Binghamton to fit a specific role for the men’s team. Crist said that he and Dempsey discussed where he fits into Binghamton’s strategy for the upcoming season.
“One thing I like about [Dempsey] is that he was very honest with me,” Crist said. “He knew that I was coming in with a lot of experience and I was older, so he wanted me to take that leadership role and be a floor general out on the court — to use my leadership and experience to lead the team to some wins.”
As the start of men’s basketball season slowly approaches, there are obvious question marks about whether the season will be be able to start. The Bearcats are preparing as if the season will start on its intended date. Crist noted the optimism he feels with the team as they set to kick off the new season.
“I think we’ll definitely have a season,” Crist said. “I’m ready to go and I know the team’s ready to go. The only thing we can do is prepare as if we’re starting two weeks from now. You can’t really expect anything less.”