The parade of top local basketball products from the NHIAA to the NEPSAC continues. Gabrielle 'Gabby' Hunter was very raw as a freshman but has improved by leaps and bounds since then. She was one of the most improved players in the state this year as a junior, helping Bedford to reach the Division II title game for a second straight year. And with the Bulldogs graduating 4 starters including their whole front line next year would have been HER year at Bedford. However the 5-foot-9 forward who can play out on the wing or down on the post is instead transferring to the Tilton School. Tilton has been one of the most dominant prep school girls basketball teams in all of New England over the past few years, and with her transfer Hunter reclassifies to the Class of 2016.
"The decision to look at prep schools was certainly a strenuous one at first, but gradually through the process it became clearer" Hunter told the NH Notebook. "There were two main factors that I had heavily readdressed which were my teammates as well as curriculum. I had been selected as a captain for the upcoming season and very close with my teammates, but with that being said, I knew that they would understand my decisions and ultimately support them. I am fortunate enough to currently attend a high school of great stature with a very structured curriculum. With that being said, it was important for the school that I chose to continue my academic journey at, to be fairly similar."
The Tilton School is located in the lakes region of New Hampshire. The Rams have won back-to-back NEPSAC Class B championships, and have won 3 titles in the last 4 years. It's one of the premier programs in New England, without question. Hunter plays AAU for the Rivals Basketball Club, and over the past few years many Rivals players have transferred in to Tilton.
"Personally, I felt that there are several benefits to attending prep school, as did my AAU coach, Scott Hazelton" explained Hunter. "Having his instructions and input, truly helped my family with enduring the process. Currently, there are a few Rivals players already at Tilton that have helped to confirm the advantageous environment at Tilton. On my visit to Tilton, I met Coach Brisson who had an upbeat personality and immediately made me feel welcome. Her style of coaching and outlook on her team stuck with me. I am looking forward to attending Tilton, where I can excel simultaneously in the classroom, along with on the court."
Hunter really stepped her game up this past season as a junior at Bedford. She was a beast on the offensive boards, is very active in the paint on both ends of the floor and showed strong moves in the lane and a soft shooting touch inside of 15 feet.
"I think having such high goals for myself has undoubtedly pushed me harder through this process" Hunter pointed out. "I was fortunate enough to play with hardworking and talented athletes at my time in Bedford that always strove for their best, and that momentum I believe was contagious. To coincide with that, when high school season dwindled down, there was always AAU to look forward to, to continue that same atmosphere. I owe a lot to the Rivals program because in these past 2 years I have been pushed by coaches, as well by other Rivals players to ultimately push myself."
Hunter also has good genes. Her older brother Oliver 'Ollie' Hunter was a standout player at Bishop Guertin. He went on to play at Saint Anselm's College before transferring to Keene State. Being able to play against Ollie anytime has helped Gabby become a better player.
"I could unconsciously say that my older brother, Ollie, has played a major role in my development" said Gabrielle Hunter. "Who doesn't want to be like their older sibling? I found that basketball assembled us closer together, and he was continuously, and does continue to aid me in reconstructing my game. He reassures my potential, and has served as a constant motivator for as long as I have been playing."
Now that she had a breakout year last season and has continued to work hard and develop her game look for Hunter to really become a force on the court. She has the strength to play inside and the quickness to play on the wing. And reclassifying to 2016 will only help with her recruitment.
"This season of AAU has been one of many lessons learned" concluded Hunter. "I love the Rivals program because of the intense energy that my teammates and other practice players give off. We all feed off of it, while pushing one another at practice, and in the midst of it, having fun. I am looking forward to the Nike Showcase tournaments this summer, where we will get to showcase our hard work and development as we play some really gritty, tough, elite teams. In preparation for those though, I will still look forward to the smaller tournaments where we’re given more chances to practice and learn consistency."