Josh Hunt is happy with the home he’s made at the Cockburn Cougars over the past three seasons that he couldn’t imagine continuing his NBL1 West career anywhere else with his focus to continue his upward trajectory in 2024.
Hunt has long been one of the more exciting emerging talents in West Australian basketball and he first played his SBL basketball at the Geraldton Buccaneers including being on the squad that won the 2019 championship.
However, he wanted to achieve his basketball dreams and initially made the move more central to play at the Mandurah Magic in 2020, and ever since has been at the Cockburn Cougars, and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
Hunt has continued to improve season on season with the Cougars over the past three years, continues to be a training player at the Perth Wildcats and remains excited for the future at Cockburn.
Decision to stay at Cougars
When you are as talented and still as young as Hunt is despite having already racked up 90 games at NBL1 level, you are always going to attract interest from rival clubs.
That left him with plenty to weigh up about where he would continue to play his basketball in 2024 especially after the changes with the Cougars, but in the end he has felt so at home with Cockburn since arriving in 2021 that he didn’t want to play anywhere else.
“I wouldn’t say it was an easy decision and I had a pretty strong relationship with Coops over the last three years so I did have a bit to think about. But when I thought about, I would say that Cockburn pretty much feels like home now so I wanted to stay here,” Hunt said.
“I think it’s the camaraderie we all have. That’s the huge thing with Cockburn that I’ve noticed and everyone is pretty close off the court and that translates onto the court because you can say to anyone that they might have messed and they don’t take it personally, and just want to get better.”
Hunt also liked what he heard from new coach Mark Clayden about his plans for the 2024 season and beyond, and then he also didn’t want to miss out on being a teammate for Gavin Field’s final season of his remarkable career either.
“I feel like every athlete’s dream is to try and finish out on top so if we could do that for Gav that would be awesome. We just have to work hard to give ourselves a chance of that happening now,” he said.
“I know it’s going to be Gav’s last year so that was a pretty big reason for me to stay, but also Claydo sold me on what he told me what his vision that he saw for the club. So that sold me and I made the decision to stay.”
Being such a versatile player
Hunt’s athleticism and versatility have always been his great strengths, and that continues to be the case as he keeps on developing his all-round game and becoming a more well-rounded player.
Getting out and running in transition, and getting to the basket and finishing at the rim has never been an issue for Hunt. But his defence and jump shooting are two areas that have been works in progress and that’ll continue to be the case this off-season leading into 2024.
“It just gives me more of an opportunity to play more and contribute to the team in different ways,” he said.
“I guess if I had to I could even play the four even though that’d definitely be small ball, but can play a few different positions and I’m just happy to do whatever it takes us to help win games
“This off-season I’ll continue training on with the Wildcats and just try to get better in everything, especially my three-point shooting. I feel like I’ve been working very hard just on trying to get that as smooth as can so then guys will have to respect that part of my game a bit more.
“It’ll just open everything up for not just myself but my teammates as well. It’s probably my jump shot that has been a bit slower to develop than my other things, but I’m working on it all the time.”
Keeping the NBL dream alive
Given his versatility, athleticism and all-round game, Hunt has long been as a future NBL talent throughout WA basketball circles, and that’s a dream he is still holding onto, and training at the Perth Wildcats every day and guarding Bryce Cotton certainly couldn’t be hurting.
“Obviously I have to keep working and proving what I can do so I can make that jump as smoothly as possible if I ever got that chance,” Hunt said.
“Guarding Bryce Cotton and Corey Webster kinda makes you have to play defence and learn and develop quickly. I think my defence has improved drastically since the start of last season because I was with the Wildcats last year as well.
“It’s definitely an experience guarding Bryce that’s for sure. He’s just a freak. He is extremely quick and even though you might not know the moves he’s going to do, you still can’t do anything about stopping it.”