MINERAL – Xavien Hunter is listed as a 5-foot-9 shooting guard on Louisa County’s varsity boys basketball roster.
His presence on the floor and in the locker room is much bigger.
The senior has emerged as one of the faces of the Lions’ program this season as they look to repeat as Jefferson District champions. Hunter joined some elite company by scoring his 1,000th career point during a nondistrict victory over Patrick Henry (Ashland).
The senior tallied 11 points in the win over the Patriots, including a layup off an offensive rebound to reach the milestone and earn Daily Progress Athlete of the Week.
“Reaching 1,000 points is a very big accomplishment,” Hunter said. “It means a lot to see my hard work pay off. It was very important for me to reach it because that’s one milestone I wanted ever since I was in middle school.”
The journey started at the age of six, when Hunter picked up his first basketball and was introduced to the game.
“Training in the living room, I literally had basketball goals everywhere in the house and outside,” he said. “Basketball has basically been my life since I came out of the womb.”
Athletics were a big part of Hunter’s childhood. He was always active in a variety of things. Hunter started playing football in the fourth grade and ran track in middle school, but the love of basketball was always there.
“I chose basketball because I just grew up playing it every day instead of being in the house playing video games,” Hunter said. “That’s what I preferred doing.”
That commitment to his craft has continued throughout high school as well.
A four-year member of the Louisa varsity team, he’s been a mainstay in the Lions’ lineup and a consistent contributor. Whether it’s draining 3-pointers or playing lock-down defense, Hunter is committed to his craft.
“The strengths of my game are creating for myself and others, but always looking to be aggressive and attacking the basket,” he said. “Last year, I wasn’t as mature as I am this year, since I’ve experienced so much this year, I’m more mature and I know what to do in tough situations.”
Mostly a 3-pointer marksman as part of Louisa County’s three-headed monster of Chris Shelton and Jarett Hunter last season, Xavien’s game has grown this season. He’s shown the ability to drive to the bucket and get his own shot as well as setting up teammates for easy buckets on the offensive end. In addition, he’s improved as an on-ball defender, which typically helps generate steals into layups on the other end.
Hunter said becoming multi-dimensional with the ball in his hands makes him tough to guard.
“My thought process is most likely the combination of all three,” Hunter said. “I know teams look at me as the key player, but I’m always looking to do something to make my team better in some way possible.”
His biggest attribute is torching defenses from 3-point range. Last year, he tallied 21 points and keyed a second-half comeback as Louisa County defeated reigning state champion Lake Taylor on the road in the playoffs.
Those clutch performances have continued this season for the senior guard. Last month, he capped a 14-0 fourth-quarter run with a 3-pointer to hand Western Albemarle its first district loss of the season. He followed that up with a season-high 38 points for the Lions during a win over North Stafford.
A student of the game, Hunter said he tries to emulate NBA superstars Paul George and Trae Young as well as Hall of Famer Allen Iverson.
“The key qualities of a basketball player are loyalty, confidence, competitiveness and skill,” he said. “I’m a great 3-point shooter because of my focus and confidence in my shot. Out of those qualities, I have all of them.”
Louisa County basketball coach Robert Shelton, who’s coached Hunter for years, calls his senior guard one of the most confident kids in the school.
Hunter said he gets that trait honestly.
“I am one of the most confident guys, it all came from my father,” Hunter said. “Confidence is key in everything you do and that’s what he has always preached to me. Ever since I was little, I was well known for always having that competitive nature.”
Hunter credits the pregame pep talks with his father for preparing him for games. In addition, he studies film prior to games to help him continue to find ways to improve his game.
“My mom, my dad and my grandma are my No. 1 fans, so my confidence is always up,” Hunter said. “The part my father has drilled in my head is to always have room for improvement and to be better than him and make smarter choices.”
Off the court, Hunter enjoys spending time with family and friends, partaking in a variety of events, including bowling.
“Bowling is just fun and competitive at the same time, just like basketball,” Hunter said. “My highest game was a 160, which included five strikes. I don’t think I will ever do that again, because I don’t go as much anymore. It relaxes me and just keeps my mind off things and makes me focus.”
In the classroom, Hunter’s favorite subjects are history and English. He’s also very involved in community service programs throughout the school, including Santa Council and Our Brother’s Keeper and spends approximately five hours a week helping others.
“When playing football, we help the community in numerous ways,” Hunter said. “I enjoyed every bit of it. Our Brother’s Keeper’s Club and it’s just a club basically for brotherhood and to hold all of your peer’s accountable.”
Although his first name is Xavien, everyone at Louisa County knows him as Buck, a nickname given to him as a child by his father.
“I got the nickname when I was really little,” Hunter said. “It really didn’t have a meaning, he just started calling me that and I really don’t know why. But I made up [my own] meaning. I said it’s because I catch buckets.”
One thing Hunter enjoys in his spare time is drawing, particularly cartoon characters from Disney Movies as well as the television show, “Family Guy”.
“I’ve been drawing for a long time, really just sketching, but when I want to draw something, I look at it and draw it,” he said. “I’m decent at drawing humans, but anything else I can draw pretty well. It just relaxes me and keeps my mind flowing.”
Hunter also fancies himself as quite the dancer too. Regularly you can find him showcasing his moves, including “The Woah” and other trending dances.
“My dancing skills are just natural,” Hunter said. “I have rhythm and certain dances that are trending on social media I can do pretty easily, when I’m feeling the music.”
Another rite of passage for Hunter is his organizational skills.
“I’m very organized with everything I do,” he said. “My organizational skills I use everywhere I go. In my room, my closest friend’s house, I always help out to keep things organized. It’s just how I am and it really helps me out.”
Hunter has thoroughly enjoyed representing Louisa County over the past four years, particularly alongside first cousin and point guard Jarett Hunter. Xavien Hunter said they’ve played beside one another for more than a decade during school ball and AAU teams and said their connection on the court is special.
“Playing alongside him is very special to me,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to play with any other point guard in the world. We bring the best out in each other. When we see each other feeling it because of one of us are going to feel it every game and as soon as we see that out of each other, we both go really hard and then it’s trouble for the other team. My best friend ‘J-Rock” I’m going to miss him and this program when it’s all over.”
Xavien Hunter hopes to have an opportunity to play at the next level. He’s had interest from a number of programs, both for basketball and football, including numerous Division III programs throughout the commonwealth, including The Apprentice School, Bridgewater College and Christopher Newport.
“I’ve been blessed with great opportunities and choices,” Hunter said. “Everyone has the Division I dream, but it’s very hard to go Division I, especially at my height.”
He hopes to major in business and marketing in college and one day open his own business.
Louisa County wraps up its regular season Tuesday night with a big Jefferson District clash against Charlottesville. A win would secure the Lions the regular season title and the top-seed in the district tournament.
For Hunter, that would be the first step in the program’s ultimate goal this season, another state tournament appearance.
“My goals personally would be to make my team better and lead my team to another state championship [game] and finish it off this time,” he said. “This team’s success has been bonding outside of basketball and practicing very hard and preparing for games, so we will be ready and just let the game come to us. A perfect season for me is to know we left it all on the court when it’s all said and done. A perfect season for my team should be the same.”