As March Madness is almost here, we take a trip down memory lane and look back at some of the best viral moments in NCAA tournament history. Here is Mid-Major Madness’ take on Georgia State’s 2015 March Madness run:
When it comes to celebrations, not too many can beat Ron Hunter’s enthusiasm in 2015. It cost him some pain, but he made unforgettable memories.
The former Georgia State head coach is well-remembered for falling off a stool while celebrating an NCAA Tournament win in which his son, RJ Hunter, hit a huge three-pointer to upset No. 3 seed Baylor with 2.7 seconds on the clock. The Panthers were a No. 14 seed team.
Georgia State had qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in 14 years after beating in-state rival Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt Tournament title game.
The excitement of that title was the reason why Hunter was coaching from a stool in the first place. RJ Hunter hit two free throws with 21.6 seconds left. Georgia Southern attempted a three-pointer but the ball just hit the backboard. As Ron Hunter witnessed this, he jumped higher than he had jumped in a long time.
He had torn his achilles years ago while playing basketball, and he recognized the pain immediately.
During the postgame press conference, RJ said he saw his dad running a little too fast toward him. They both fell, and it was a touching father/son moment until the coach had to get checked by the medical staff.
The basket was lowered so Hunter, who attended the trophy presentation with crutches, could cut the net.
“Nothing is going to keep me from the NCAA tournament with my guys,” the coach said during the postgame press conference.
He kept his promise. Hunter used a scooter to get around and coached from a stool. The day of the game against Baylor, his knee was swollen and it made it hard for him to move so he had the top of the cast sawed off.
Whatever it took, he wanted to be there for his team. His excitement was seen throughout the game, but especially when RJ’s shot went in.
“I saw him cannonball off his chair,” his son told the media after the game. “I told him they gotta get him a chair with the back or something because that wasn’t going to work.”
Hunter was smiling and celebrating even from the floor. The fall was so iconic that it got immortalized with its own bobblehead.
The incident represented a coach that was excited for his team, but first and foremost, it showed a proud father. That was RJ’s last college basketball season, and it sure was a memorable one.
“I’m going to start off by saying this, first of all it was a great game, but I’m not going to be Coach, I’m going to be Dad right now,” Hunter said during his postgame opening statement. “I’m proud as hell of this guy, this is my son.”
The coach already had a reputation of being enthusiastic on and off the court. He never stood still while coaching the Panthers, and he tried to go above and beyond to show school spirit.
This was almost seven years ago, so where are they now?
RJ Hunter was selected with the 28th overall pick by the Boston Celtics in the 2015 NBA draft. He is still playing basketball, but he is currently in Australia playing for the Sydney Kings.
In March 2019, Ron Hunter left Georgia State with a 171-95 record as the coach with most wins in program history. He is now the head coach for the Tulane Green Wave.
As for the stool, it had become such an important part of the program that the Panthers even made it part of their NCAA tournament appearance in 2018.