Most high school graduates tend to play a year or four in college before moving on to the pro basketball ranks. Not so for Hunter Cort, Yokota Class of 2017 and two-time MVP of the Far East Division II tournament.

Cort has signed a contract with the Hiroshima Dragonflies, the defending Japan B-League Division II champion, the Dragonflies confirmed in e-mail messages to Stars and Stripes. The 6-foot-3, 155-pound 18-year-old was signed as a reserve point guard, the team said; terms were not disclosed.

“I’m excited for the challenge and looking forward to learning from guys a lot more accomplished than me,” Cort said.

He averaged 18 points, seven assists and seven rebounds per game in leading Yokota to a 34-3 record, the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools title at 9-0 and just missing out on capturing its third straight Far East Division II Tournament title, losing 67-66 to E.J. King on Feb. 23.

Cort is half-Japanese and has lived most of his life in Japan. The team had been scouting him since May and Cort traveled to Hiroshima a couple of times to work out for the Dragonflies. He’s currently in training camp for the season, which begins in October with games against the Fukushima Firebonds.

The Dragonflies went 48-15 last season and beat Gunma 78-65 in the league’s championship game on May 20.

Dragonflies general manager Nobuyoshi Ura said Cort needs to work to build up his body, but that the team made an offer “because of his wide field of vision and remarkable judgment during games.”

“He needs to build up his body as a pro player and improve his shooting skills,” Ura said, adding that the team envisions Cort as a sixth-man guard coming off the bench.

“I hope he will play the role of turning games around,” Ura said. “I believe the major strength of being young is decisiveness, so I hope he will play aggressively, not worrying about making mistakes.”

Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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