Hunt’s Kent signs with Johnson & Wales

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Kayla Kent ended her senior season returning Hunt High varsity girls basketball to a throne it had not occupied in over 30 years.

Now with the Lady Warriors seated once again as queens of the 3-A Big East Conference, Kent will now turn her attention to residency in the Queen City.

Having longed for the opportunity to attend college in the Charlotte area, Kent made her dream come true recently after signing a National Letter of Intent with Johnson & Wales University of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association ranks.

“I just wanted to get away from Wilson,” Kent said. “Charlotte is a nice city, so I felt like I could explore new things there.”

Kent, the reigning Big East Player of the Year, considered attending Catawba College, UNC Charlotte and Livingstone College. Yet none of the three offered a chance to continue playing basketball outside of potential walk-on opportunities.

Kent said she briefly considered a private school out of the New York area, but with the inability to offer an athletic scholarship, turned her attention to in-state options.

As a senior, Kent led the Lady Warriors from her point guard spot, averaging 15.2 points per game.

She pulled down 4.5 rebounds per contest and handed out an average of 2.5 assists per game as part of a Hunt team that rebounded well and sought to push the pace in transition. Hunt, which reached the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A postseason, produced a 16-8 record and a 8-2 mark in Big East play, good enough for the outright championship.

She’ll be joining a program coming off a storybook season of its own.

Johnson and Wales claimed the USCAA Division II national title last season, posting a 22-4 record and ending the year winning 14 straight contests.

Indeed, Kent noted the winning pedigree emanating from the Wildcats.

“I feel like that’s a good team,” she said. “I feel like maybe I can make them better if I go there and we can go back to the state (actually national) championship.”

The daughter of Kimberly Mack and Kobe Kent, Sr. plans to major in sports and business management.

At the college level, Kent plans to evolve from the all-or-nothing mindset she employed at times at Hunt.

While rebounding and driving to the basket were strengths, her jump shot faltered at times. Admittedly, Kent hates taking jumpers as a point guard — a position that often garners equal parts praise and harsh criticism in times of adversity.

“I had to step up and be a leader,” Kent said. “Being a leader, it comes with being a leader. So, some things got to me. But I try not to let everything get to me, and I kept pushing.”