Former U-Mary guard Kai Huntsberry finishes historic season at North Texas, declaring for NBA Draft

Published: Apr. 21, 2023 at 4:08 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Kai Huntsberry made a name for himself in his one season at the University of Mary. He averaged nearly 20 points a game and was named first-team all-conference.

In one year of playing for Jack Nelson, Huntsberry’s career was changed forever.

“Coach Jack (Nelson) took a chance on me when I was coming out of high school to go to his national (Junior College), and I didn’t get a chance to go there because he ended up going to Sioux Falls, but I’m just beyond grateful for him. He changed my life, and I credit him to this day for it,” said Kai Huntsberry.

His success at U-Mary gave him the chance to transfer to the University of North Texas.

“When I went there they didn’t care that I scored points, anybody can score points at a certain level. I told them I always wanted to play defense. They took that and just ran with it. They said, ‘Oh so you want to play defense? We’re going to make you play defense and that’s how you’re going to stay on the floor,’” said Huntsberry.

Not only did Huntsberry win the Conference USA Newcomer of the Year award, but he also played a big role in North Texas winning the program’s first-ever NIT Title.

“We hooped, and they found us, and we ended up winning. That’s the best feeling in the world. It still really hasn’t hit me yet, and it’s been so long. I haven’t really sat down and thought about what we’ve done. I’m just happy I got to play for them and be part of that team,” said Huntsberry.

In his last three basketball seasons, Huntsberry went from junior college in San Diego, to division two in Bismarck, to one of the biggest stages in division one hoops. Now eyeing the potential of the NBA draft, Huntsberry has one word he keeps coming back to.

“Resilience is by big word. That’s something that Coach Jack (Nelson) talked about and that’s something that we preached. I’m willing to do what it takes to play at the level I need to be at. I’m blessed to even be in a position where I can say I want to enter my name in the draft, even though that doesn’t guarantee anything. I’m excited to have that and go through that process, and see what happens,” said Huntsberry.

Huntsberry says he’ll be training and hopes to get a few workouts in with some NBA organizations in the near future.