Former Ozen basketball standouts thrive at collegiate level
Josh Boyd has already started against a Final Four team from a season ago.
Jordan Hunter is a starter for a team that has averaged 22.8 wins the past five seasons.
Both Boyd (Northwestern State) and Hunter (New Mexico) are Ozen graduates who are playing - and flourishing - at Division I college basketball schools early in their careers.
“I came to Northwestern State to play big minutes,” Boyd said. “Getting an opportunity to be able to do it this early is all that I asked for.”
Boyd, a freshman, is the younger of the two and the reigning Super Gold Boys Basketball Most Valuable Player.
He got his first-career start on Nov. 13 against Oklahoma, scoring five points in 18 minutes.
The transition from Ozen to Northwestern State hasn’t been difficult because, in Boyd’s opinion, Beaumont and Natchitoches are similar cities.
Also, Boyd played in a number of big games for Ozen the past two seasons. He helped lead the Panthers to the 5A state title game with Hunter in 2015.
“Going to college basketball,” Boyd said, “you learn how to play against men and playing in the state tournament a couple of times really helped with that.”
Hunter, a sophomore, is coming into his own for the Lobos.
After playing in 28 games - including one start - as a freshman, Hunter has started each of New Mexico’s first three games this season.
There wasn’t an awkward transition phase from high school to college for Hunter, either.
“I’ve always been the first one to excited to go on trips and to travel,” Hunter said. “So when I got to Albuquerque, it felt like home.
“It’s a lot different than Beaumont, and I’m comfortable here.”
Boyd and Hunter, whose nickname is “Juice” because an uncle said he was sweet on the court as a kid, talk occasionally.
Boyd isn’t surprised at Hunter’s success at New Mexico and vice-versa.
Ozen boys basketball coach Marquis Saveat isn’t surprised either, saying the two “were college basketball-ready when they left high school.”
“I’m very, very proud of those guys,” Saveat said. “They’re getting opportunities early on in their careers, and I’m wishing them all the success in the world.”
Hunter expects he and Boyd will continue to flourish as their careers continue.
“I hope (Josh and I) get talked about at Ozen for a long time,” Hunter said. “I think if we take care of ourselves on and off the court, there’s a good chance of that happening.”