Remembering a basketball pioneer's career

Mar. 20, 2013 @ 10:31 AM

Harold Hunter of North Carolina Central University was first in many ways in his life, and for that vital role he was given a Trailblazer award from NCCU in 2009. Hunter was the very first black player to sign an NBA contract and was the first black man to coach the United States Olympic basketball team, when he served as an assistant coach on the gold-medal 1968 team in Mexico City.

After a stellar playing career at NCCU under legendary coach John McLendon ended in 1950, Hunter was drafted by the NBA’s Washington Capitals in the 10th round of the NBA draft.  After his playing days were over, Hunter became a very successful college coach. Among his coaching stops, Hunter rose to national prominence as head coach at Tennessee State, where he won 172 games with only 67 losses from 1959 to 1968. Hunter’s jersey number was retired in a ceremony at NCCU in 2005.

Black coaches and players across the United States owe a debt of gratitude to Harold Hunter, who paved the way for entry into the NBA and the coaching ranks.  North Carolina Central University and the city of Durham are proud to call Harold Hunter one of their own as we acknowledge the passing of this basketball pioneer on March 7 at the age of 86. 

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At the recent NFL Combine in February, prospective players for the NFL draft showed off their physical (and mental) prowess. Tommy Bohanon, a fullback from Wake Forest, did an eye-opening 36 repetitions with 225 pounds in the bench press. Now if that doesn’t impress you, take a spotter with you and try to bench press 225 pounds even one time. Jonathan Cooper, an offensive lineman from UNC, benched 225 pounds 35 times. By the way, Margus Hunt of Southern Methodist had the most bench press reps at 38. Earl Wolff, a defensive back from North Carolina State, had the third best broad jump of any of the hundreds of participants, jumping 11 feet, 2 inches, and had an impressive vertical leap of 39 inches. Conner Vernon, the outstanding receiver from Duke, ran a 4.68 40-yard dash  and showed NFL coaches that he is ready to play on Sundays.

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A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that being overweight, regardless of whether most of the weight is in the abdominal area or in the hips and thighs, increases the risk for disease compared to normal-weight individuals.  This news is not very surprising, but this study also found that people who store most of their weight in the abdominal area are at a higher risk of death than people who store it in their thighs and hips.  Of course, obesity of any kind and no matter where it is on your body increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other diseases and ailments.

One good way to check to see if you might be carrying around too much weight in your abdomen is to measure your waist-to-hip ratio.  It is a very highly recommended method used by physicians and exercise scientists.  Just use a tape measure to record the circumference of your waist and your hips.  Use the belly button to measure the waist and measure the hips at the widest point.  Then divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement.  For example, a 42-inch waist divided by a 36-inch hip is 1.17, whereas a 29-inch waist divided by a 38-inch hip is .76.  Studies indicate that health problems are increased for women whose ratio is .80 or higher and for men whose ratio is .95 or higher.  Waist circumference alone can also be a good indicator of increased risk of health problems.  This increased risk for women is a waist measurement over 35 inches and for men over 40 inches.