COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Former Ohio University power forward and Cincinnati native Brandon Hunter died on Tuesday.

Hunter, 42, starred in the Bobcats frontcourt from 1999-2003 and led the NCAA with 12.6 rebounds per game during the 2002-03 season. He earned All-MAC first-team honors in 2001, 2002 and 2003, averaging 21.3 points per game in his final season. Hunter ranks fifth all-time at Ohio with 2,012 points and first in rebounds with 1,103.

Brandon Hunter delivers a slam dunk at The Convocation Center in Athens. (Courtesy/OU Athletic Communications)

He was selected 56th overall in the 2003 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics and averaged 3.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in his first season. The Celtics did not protect Hunter in the 2004 expansion draft, which saw the Charlotte Hornets select him, but he was traded mid-season to Orlando, where he averaged 3.1 points and 2.2 rebounds over 31 games.

Hunter had brief stints with Milwaukee, Cleveland and New Jersey summer league teams before traveling overseas to play in Greece, Italy, Puerto Rico and France. He returned to Cincinnati in 2013 to pursue careers as a real estate broker, a sports agent and most recently founded Hunter Athlete Management in 2021.

Bobcats coach Jeff Boals said in a statement, “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Brandon Hunter. Brandon was a phenomenal player at Ohio who went on to have a great pro career. He was up on campus last year, with his son, for his well-deserved induction into the Ohio University Athletics Hall of Fame. Brandon was a great ambassador for Ohio, a great teammate, a great competitor, and a great family man. Brandon had an infectious personality that touched many people along his journey and will be truly missed. We are thinking about and praying for his wife Mary and three children during this time.” 

Boals also posted on X Tuesday on Hunter’s death, as did former guard T.J. Ford.

Ohio’s Brandon Hunter applauds Saturday, Feb. 1, 2003, during a game against Marshall at the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington, W.Va. Ohio won 87-85 in double overtime. (AP Photo/The Herald-Dispatch, Randy Snyder)

Hunter, a 1999 graduate of Winthrow University High School in Cincinnati, where he was also a star player, was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2017. Last year, he was enshrined into the Ohio University’s Kermit Blosser Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame.

Former coach Tim O’Shea paid tribute to Hunter and shared on his Facebook page that Hunter died at the end of a yoga class. His cause of death is not immediately known.

“You always felt like you knew you had a chance to win because he was just a great player,” O’Shea said.

Hunter had a big game in the Bobcats’ win at the University of North Carolina, one of the great memories O’Shea and Hunter shared.

“Not only was he a great player, his desire to win, his work ethic, work ethic that extended to the classroom was unmatched,” O’Shea said. “We kind of knocked heads a little bit during those two years, but in the end, he became one of my favorites and we stayed in touch over the years and it was really rewarding, to say the least, to see him mature as an adult, become such a top professional.”

Boals spent some time with Hunter last year when the former forward was inducted into the hall of fame at the university.

“Dynamic personality and the amount of phone calls I got last night from just different random people in the basketball world, you can tell how many people he came across and touched,” Boals said.

Boals said plans are in the works to honor Hunter this season.