Former Hilltoppers Hunter, McNeal back in Division I

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Former Western Kentucky basketball players Chris McNeal and Marlon Hunter will rejoin Division I basketball, the duo announced this week.

McNeal and Hunter – along with former WKU player Fredrick Edmond – were suspended in March of 2016 following a University Disciplinary Hearing after the three were found to have violated the school’s code of conduct. Coach Ray Harper also resigned partly as a result of that hearing.

Hunter will reunite with Harper – now at Jacksonville State – after one season at Odessa College in Odessa, Texas. He started all 34 games for OC and averaged 12.2 points in 16 minutes per game while bringing in 3.2 rebounds per contest.

The Memphis native also recorded a steal and an assist per game.

In one season at Western Kentucky, Hunter played in 32 games and averaged 4.3 ppg.

McNeal, from Jackson, Tenn., spent this past season with Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa. He led IHCC in scoring at 13.1 points a game, field goals (135), field goal attempts (327), 3-pointers (83), 3-point attempts (222), free throws (94), assists (179) and points (447) while starting 33 of 34 games.

The 83 3-pointers McNeal made was the sixth highest single-season total in IHCC history. In his lone year with WKU, McNeal played in 34 games and averaged 5.6 points and 3.9 assists per contest.

He’ll spend the 2017-18 season at New Mexico.

Another former Hilltopper, Payton Hulsey, will face his former school now as a member of one of Western’s Conference USA foes. Hulsey played in 31 games for the Tops in 2013-14 and averaged 3.1 points and 1.5 assists per game.

Hulsey, from Memphis, transferred to Eastern Florida State College where he tallied 8.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and five assists per game. He then spent the next two seasons at the College of Charleston where he averaged 5.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists as a junior and 4.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists as a senior.

As a graduate transfer, Hulsey will spend his final season at Florida Atlantic.

Other former Hilltoppers still active in Division I include Avery Patterson at Alcorn State, DJ Clayton at Illinois State and Rob Marberry at Lipscomb.

— Follow WBKO sportswriter Chad Bishop on Twitter @MrChadBishop