By Roy & Harv Schmidt
There are two people in particular who we believe deserve the bulk of the credit for Marshall's Class 3A state championship--head coach Courtney Hargrays and 6'4 senior Ryan Hare. In this blog we are going to focus on Hare, who has come a long way in comparison to how he was feeling and what he was saying prior to the start of this basketball season. We can honestly say that we are extremely proud of him, as the things that he is now saying, the attitude that he is now exhibiting and the maturity that he has shown over the past five months speaks volumes.
Back in October of last year, Hare and some of his teammates staged a walk-out at Marshall in support of Lamont Bryant, who had just been fired as the head coach of the boy's varsity team. At that time, Hare and some of Marshall's other key players said that they would either quit the team or transfer to another school if Bryant wasn't reinstated as their coach.
Shortly after the walk-out occurred, we wrote a blog saying that Hare and his teammates needed to rethink the situation, as it could set a dangerous precedent and also have a negative effect on their college recruitment. We are now thinking that perhaps Hare or someone close to him read our comments, because we believe that it was Hare's (and his teammates') change in attitude and focus that was instrumental in propelling Marshall to a state title.
From a mental and emotional standpoint, once Hare and the rest of the Marshall players accepted the fact that Hargrays was their coach, we noticed an immediate chemistry set in. Suddenly, everyone at Marshall bonded--players, coaches and administrators. This was clearly evident in every game that we watched Marshall play this season.
On the court, Hare is an absolute warrior. He plays extremely hard at both ends of the floor, never takes a play off and is a fierce competitor who hates to lose. Forget about Hare's 19 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in Marshall's 69-61 win over Simeon in the Class 3A championship game for a moment. To us, the even more telling statistic while watching this contest (as well as Marshall's 63-57 victory over Washington in the Class 3A semifinals) was that there was never any doubt in our mind that Hare was Marshall's leader. Not only that, but it was plain to see that Hare's positive attitude rubbed off on all of his teammates, and that is why they are holding the Class 3A first place trophy. We remember one play in particular during the Class 3A championship game which personifies what Hare is all about. After failing to finish a play in transition, Hare immediately hustled back on defense and proceeded to take a charge, thus denying Simeon a fast-break opportunity.
As far as Hare's recruiting goes, he reneged on a previous commitment to Oregon State and as a result at the present time is pretty much wide open. Since the start of this season, he has drawn interest from Baylor, DePaul, Bradley, Ball State, UIC and Hawaii, most of whom have come forward with scholarship offers. It will be interesting to see how Hare's recruitment plays out now that the season is over.
If anyone needs any further indication of how Hare has grown up over the course of this season, look no further than the comments that he made just moments after his team won the state championship. Hare said that playing in the NBA has never really been a dream of his, and that his first and foremost goal is to graduate from college and make his mother and the rest of his family proud. He also said that he wants to atone for his past mistakes. Imagine that--a high school basketball player who does not have immediate NBA aspirations and who has his priorities in order. That, even more than his on-court ability, is why Hare is recruitable as a D1 prospect. Simply put, this is what leaders, winners, and state champions are made of.
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