With Jeremy Hazell's career in Pirate Blue complete, his journey towards suiting up in the NBA begins. Along with 63 other college seniors, Hazell was invited to partake in an 8 team, 12 game tournament showcase which will be attended by representatives from every NBA franchise.
Hazell's team, Portsmouth Partnership, sports players such as forward Ryan Rossiter (Siena), forward Mike Davis (Illinois), guard Diante Garrett (Iowa State), guard Mickey McConnell (Saint Mary's), and guard Casey Mitchell (West Virginia). The Partnership will take on Norfolk Sports Club in Game 1 of the tournament on Wednesday at 7PM. Norfolk features forward Josh Harrellson (Kentucky), guard Talor Battle (Penn State), guard Randy Culpepper (UTEP), guard Austin Freeman (Georgetown), and forward Delroy James (Rhode Island).
Personally, this is an exhibition I would have paid good money to see. The stars of my two favorite schools (Battle - PSU, Hazell - Seton Hall) are going up against each other three and half years since the first time the two scorers collided. Anyone remember that night in December of 2007 when Seton Hall squandered a 10 point half time lead to a 3-4 Penn State team in Happy Valley?
I wouldn't blame you if you didn't.
However, there were many reasons not to forget that game. It was a game that was considered Talor Battle's coming out party by many Penn Staters. The freshman scored a then career high 14 points, 9 of which were in OT, en route to a come from behind Penn State win. The crafty guard from Harrisburg (PA) would go on to score more than 2,000 points from that point on - totaling 2213.
Also a freshman, Jeremy Hazell would pour in 21 points in 24 minutes off the bench - also his career high at that point. Like Battle, Jeremy would score more than 2,000 points throughout the rest of his career - finishing with 2,146.
It doesn't stop there.
Hazell and Battle both passed the 2,000 point milestone this season - on consecutive nights. Jeremy Hazell surpassed 2,000 at the RAC on February 12th, Battle the following night against Northwestern.
Both guards showed their respective fan bases what they could do on that disappointing (for Pirate fans) night in December of 2007. Both guards went on to surpass 2,000 points in their careers, breaking the barrier on consecutive nights of their senior seasons. Now, both Hazell and Battle will go toe to toe (not literally unless Battle plays the 2) in front of a plethora of NBA scouts.
The game will be absent of the drama that surrounded each player throughout their lives and careers, but it won't be absent of the jaw dropping ability that each player brings to the game of basketball. Pull up treys that put Jimmer to shame, game winning shots (again), game tying shots (again), performances that wouldn't let you sit down.
Talor and Jeremy fought to the bitter end. Battle drilled a rainbow three from nearly 30 feet to tie Penn State's first round NCAA tournament game before Juan Fernandez would break the Nittany Lions' hearts - ending Battle's career.
Jeremy Hazell sank an equally impressive NBA three pointer before Seton Hall fell in overtime to Rutgers in the first round of the Big East tournament, crushing Hazell's last chance at playing in the NCAA tournament. These two scorers, leaders, fighters, did just about all they could for their respective schools from the moment they stepped on campus to the last second each played - literally.
Now, they will do all they can for themselves, for a chance to play in the NBA.
Seton Hall's Jeff Robinson did not make the cut for the Portsmouth Invitational. He was on the reserve list of players that would be used if any players dropped out, but none did, so he was left out.