Deven Hunter Defines Basketball Success at Oregon State University

It's easy to notice a 6' 3" thin-athletic lady that walks by you. She has a long stride and a confident display on her face. Deven Hunter is friendly, outgoing, and sometimes a little shy if she doesn't know you. She's a former McNary Lady Celtic who graduated high school in 2012. As a freshman she helped McNary place fourth at the state tournament.

She is now (in 2016) a senior at Oregon State University where she wears number 32 and is a huge part of the women's basketball team that plays in the PAC12 Conference. During her four years thus far she's helped her team advance to the NCAA Tournament (The Big Dance) for the third time.

Deven is the daughter of Burt and Debbie Hunter. She has a younger sister, Sydney, who currently plays basketball at McNary High School. Deven is from Keizer, Oregon, which is located right next to Salem, Oregon -- the state capital.

Raised in a middle-income neighborhood, she was always involved with sports as a little kid. Her dad coached a few professional baseball teams -- one being the Volcanoes in Keizer. Naturally, Deven became a softball player at a very young age.

"Our neighborhood was pretty calm and quiet. I had a few friends that I hung out with - it was fun. My parents signed me up to play softball, which was the first sport I played," Deven said.

She attended Kennedy Elementary School and then Claggett Creek Middle School in Keizer. In the third grade her parents signed her up to play basketball in a pee-wee league called KYBA (Keizer Youth Basketball Association). This inspired Deven to play the game and she fell in love with it.

"I really started enjoying basketball. It was so rewarding -- I had an opportunity to play on a team that had a bunch of my friends from school," Deven said.

In the fifth grade she joined a tournament team called the Keizer Celts. This was the type of team that held tryouts. Deven made the team and started playing competitive basketball all over the state. Weekend tournaments were fun for her -- playing against great players improved her game all around.

When she was a freshman at McNary High School, her tall frame combined with her athleticism earned her a spot on the girls' varsity team. She ran the floor well for a tall girl. Deven played with talented athletes like Taylor Jones and Megan Hingston. This made McNary a solid team that went on to place fourth at the state tournament.

Deven wanted to continue improving every part of her skill set. During her sophomore and junior years of high school she earned a spot with a team called Oregon Elite. During the summers this team traveled to compete against some of the best teams in the nation. Coaches started believing that she could definitely play college ball some day.

"Playing basketball with Oregon Elite was one of the best experiences I've ever had. I had so much fun with a group of girls I got to know," Deven said.

After her sophomore year in high school, the world begin to drastically change for Deven Hunter. She started receiving letters from colleges everywhere. College coaches were starting to contact her -- they would also come watch her games. It was Megan Dickerson, Eric Ely, and Scott Rueck that showed positive interest in her. Oregon State seemed to fit what she was looking for -- plus, her grandparents lived in Corvallis and still do. Deven signed to play with Oregon State going into her senior year of high school. She received a full scholarship to play basketball at OSU.

"It felt really good, knowing that I would be playing basketball at the Division I level and the PAC12 Conference -- it's kind of like a dream a lot of basketball players have," Deven said.

Deven has been blessed with the support of her parents, Burt and Debbie. They fed the passion she had for basketball and they were there to watch her play at every game they could possibly attend.

"My parents are the greatest. They are the ones that put me here. Whatever I needed they provided for me. They sacrificed their time and money for me. Even now at Oregon State, I can see them sitting with our fans at every home game. They also come to some of the away games -- I'm so thankful to mom and dad," Deven said.

The difference between high school basketball and college basketball is significant. Deven's three years at OSU has educated her on some of them.

"There are a lot of differences. In high school we never got the crowds until playoff time. In college I've played in front of seven thousand people. College is more fun because you have a group of girls that have the same goal in mind -- they're more dedicated. In college, basketball and winning are taken more serious and everyone on the team wants that -- we put in the hours and the sacrifices to make the best effort," Deven said.

In 2013, she had her first double-double, 13 points and 13 rebounds against Bakersfield - she was only a sophomore.

"When I had my first college-game double-double, I had no idea how big of a deal that was. I've had several since that first one -- it's great to see how the hard work pays off and how it helps our team," Deven said.

In her 2014-2015 season, Deven averaged 8.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 23 minutes per game - a solid performer on the basketball court.

This season, last year's GVC Player of the Year, Katie McWilliams, from South Salem High School joined Deven at Oregon State. Katie led her team in capturing the OSAA State Tournament crown in 2015.

Deven has had a remarkable season this year. She was a huge impact on this year's team. She is a well-rounded player -- defensively and offensively. Her leadership skills are a plus. She's a forward (no. 4 position) that likes to drive to the basket finishing a shot or dishing off an assist. She's strong and has expanded her range on outside shooting. This season she has made many three-point shots.

Deven has helped the Beavers advance to the NCAA Tournament once again. The kind of experience she's gained over the years will help the Beavers advance well in the tournament.

"Playing in the NCAA Tournament was an amazing feeling! We were a little disappointed that we didn't finish the way we would have liked to, but it was a great experience. We can just process it as a learning experience and stay positive to get back there again," Deven said last summer.

Well, it's happened. Deven was right, they are back for another opportunity to do well in the NCAA Tournament. Starting Friday, March 18th 2016 in Corvallis where they will play Troy in the first round. With talented players on her team like Ruth Hamblin, Jamie Weisner, Sydney Wiese, and Katie McWilliams, this Beaver team could go a long ways in the Big Dance.

Deven is doing great in the academic world, she holds a 3.3 GPA and her major is Apparel Design with a minor in Market Merchandise Management. With basketball practices, games, and meetings it's hard to find time to study. She is big into time management and finding a balance. During road trips she takes her school work with her. Studies are very important to an athlete -- without the grades you can't play. At OSU they have study halls, tutors, and even meetings with the instructors -- this helps the athletes make the grade.

Deven has a great player-coach relationship with Head Coach Scott Rueck.

"Coach is great, he knows how to balance the practices. If we're not working hard enough he knows how to motivate us by giving us a little push. He knows his stuff -- he led us to the NCAA Tournament," Deven said.

In an article on the Beaver site, Scott Rueck says, "Deven is a big-time player and a big-time athlete."

Everyone that knows Deven from the Salem-Keizer area is very proud of her accomplishments. We wish her the very best next season at Oregon State -- Go Beavers!

Does Deven Hunter have a goal after her senior year? Of course, she's open to several options. If there is interest from the WNBA, she'll be part of the draft. Playing overseas is also a possibility. If a job opportunity arises in Apparel Design, she's also open for that.

Deven, what are your three favorite moments of all time?

Starting as a freshman on the Beaver's basketball team, winning the PAC12 Championship, and advancing to the NCAA Tournament (March Madness).

Favorite movie?

Love and Basketball.

Favorite Athlete?

Blake Griffin.

Favorite NBA team and WNBA team?

LA Clippers and LA Sparks.

What kind of advice can you give a young female athlete?

Work hard, set goals. Read your dreams -- hang out with people that lift you. Some people will put you down -- don't listen to them. Stay with your dream.