True Tiger: Myers wraps up decorated career
He’s a leading candidate to be Douglas High School’s valedictorian this spring.
He’s also arguably the best basketball player to ever set foot on campus.
Funny thing, though. It’s neither aspect that really gets Douglas boys basketball coach Corey Thacker talking about Hunter Myers, who was named the Northern Division I Co-Player of the Year and Sierra League Player of the Year for the second year in a row last week.
For Thacker, it’s something else entirely.
“Something we try to talk about with the kids is being community-oriented, just realizing that this team is a big part of this community,” Thacker said. “We talk a lot about leaving the program in better shape than you found it, whether as a player or as a coach.
“That was Hunter. So much of what he did was caring about the next kid coming up behind him, making this program better for the long run.”
Thacker pauses for a moment. Then the list starts to roll out.
“He was just always around,” Thacker said. “He’s at the D League helping out. He’s showing up at AAU practice with the elementary schoolers. He’s there at middle school tryouts and showing up to games to support the younger kids, giving them high fives.
“He just did things a lot of kids don’t think about. He was at everything, just to help out. He cares about the program. It’s something you only hope the younger guys saw and that they step up and continue.”
Growing up in Carson Valley, the 6-foot, 7-inch Myers couldn’t have imagined doing things any other way.
“I just remember being in elementary school and seeing high schoolers come back to hang out with the elementary school kids, playing with us at recess, things like that,” Myers said. “I think you start to understand you are a part of something when you live here.
“Once I got to middle school, I started thinking of ways to do that too, just to start to be a positive role model. It’s something I wanted to keep up in high school.
“Just from a basketball standpoint, if there is a gym unlocked with a ball in it somewhere, I want to be there. Doesn’t matter if it is first grade, doesn’t matter if it is NBA D-League, I’ll be there. I just love being around the game. I’ll take every chance I can get.”
Thacker said it was that type of attitude that helped propel Myers to where he is today.
“I don’t think there’s any question, the difference he made on the floor for us,” Thacker said. “What’s harder to measure is the impact he had off the floor.
“That Player of the Year award, it was something he earned. He wasn’t satisfied with winning it last year. He was hands-down the best player this year. He worked so hard all season, and all offseason to make himself better and to be a better team player, a more complete player.”
Myers finished his career No. 2 on Douglas High School’s all-time leading scoring list with 1,501 points (Keith Olson had 1,743 points between 2003 and 2007). He led the Tigers in scoring as a sophomore, junior and senior, averaging 17.96 points per game as a senior.
But scoring didn’t truly represent his overall value on the floor.
Over his final two seasons, he grabbed close to 400 rebounds and blocked 104 shots. He came up with 44 steals and 57 assists. Douglas appeared in two regional finals and a state tournament during Myers’ four years. The Tigers also claimed two Sierra League titles and twice won the state academic title.
Myers was a strong facilitator on offense, never accounting for more than 27 percent of Douglas’ points in any of his four varsity seasons. Instead, he was content to let the offense run through him in order to find the open shot, regardless of who took it.
“He trusted his teammates,” Thacker said. “That was the one thing that carried our team and made me respect him more. He trusted his team. He was willing to give up certain things, because he’s a guy that can average 28 points per game, in order for his team to be successful.
“He just cared more about the team and making us a better team whatever way he could.”
That much was evident early this season, when Myers stuck to his role rather than trying to become a one-man offense as Douglas fell into an early four-game losing streak.
Douglas bounced back and eventually won 13 consecutive games, which represents the school’s longest streak since joining the large-school classification in 1980.
“We had great players,” Myers said. “We knew we had great players. It was just a matter of coming together. That was one of my favorite things about this year was just the selflessness on the court. We had guys with the ability to make the shots, but even when they were open, they still wanted to make the extra pass.
“We had a lot of different skill sets available and I wanted to be able to use them all, to make us tougher to deal with as a team. I felt like the team fed off of what I did, and if I got more guys involved, the team would start rolling, the defense would step up. That’s what ended up happening.”
Douglas was a favorite to win the Northern Division I Regional title before being upset by an upstart McQueen squad in the first round of the playoffs.
Myers said for as much as he can’t change that result, he’s proud of the what he helped establish.
“There is a great class coming behind me with guys like Austin (Evans), James (Herrick) and Pat (Johnson),” Myers said. “I just hope they can kind of carry this on. I know the upperclassmen showed me a lot when I was coming up, and I hope it is carried on from me.
“I also hope the way it ended gives them a chip on their shoulder. We got to that upper tier these last four years, but there is still unfinished business. I don’t have a chance to alter what happened for me, but it leaves them with something to prove. I’m excited to see what they do.”
Myers has already begun his transition to the next level, where he will play for Division I Harvard next year.
“It’s pretty much straight back into it,” Myers said. “I’ve been in the gym, in the weight room. I will get in contact with my Harvard coaches, see what they want me to be focusing on.
“I’ll go up with (former Nevada standout) Garry (Hill-Thomas) and workout with the Nevada Wolverines.”
After graduation, Myers said he’d take a month or so off to, “forget what homework is for a while.” He is taking four honors classes this semester and is carrying a GPA that ranges between 4.5 and 4.6.
He’ll then depart for Boston, where a summer internship awaits.
The transition, he said, reminds him a lot of when he made the jump from middle school to the varsity squad.
“I remember at the time, it was all new to me,” Myers said. “I knew as long as I put the work in, I could find my way. But it took a lot of work.
“This will be an even bigger leap. It’s that feeling of not really knowing what to expect. I have to talk with my coaches and work on whatever they tell me I need to work on.”
The desire to get that work done, though, is nothing new.
“He’s that guy,” Thacker said. “He’s in the gym an hour before everyone else.
“He just demonstrated every day what we want this program to be about. Community-oriented. Dedicated in the classroom. Caring about the next kid behind him.
“He’ll definitely be missed.”
Joey Crandall can be reached at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.