Southeast Missouri State is high on Hatchett's list

Monday, March 8, 2010

I covered Thursday's Class 1 District 3 tournament championship game won by Scott County Central and had an interesting conversation with electrifying Braves senior point guard Bobby Hatchett, who is being recruited by a number of Division I programs.

Hatchett told me that Southeast Missouri State is strong on his list, mentioning the Redhawks along with Mississippi and Iowa as being among his top choices.

That is, Hatchett said, if he qualifies for Division I eligibility right out of high school, which various sources have indicated is unlikely.

Hatchett said he is going to make every effort to play at the Division I level right away, but if he doesn't qualify he said he'll likely play for Three Rivers Community College next season.

Hatchett had good things to say about Southeast coach Dickey Nutt and the direction he thinks the program is headed.

Nutt is going to make every attempt to sign Hatchett whether he's a qualifier or not. I know Nutt would love to have Hatchett attend Southeast even if he doesn't qualify, which would mean Hatchett having to pay his own way that first year while officially not being a part of the team.

It will be interesting to see how the situation plays out, along with how the recruitment of Scott County Central 6-foot-8 junior forward Otto Porter progresses. Southeast also would love to have the sweet-shooting Porter -- but so would a host of other D-I programs.

In addition to signing 6-9 junior college forward Waylon Jones during the early period, Nutt has received one verbal commitment for the spring signing period that begins in mid-April.

While verbal commitments are nonbinding, 6-8 high school senior Dominique Elliott from Savannah, Ga., has told Nutt he plans to sign with the Redhawks.

Elliott only averaged about six points and six rebounds this season, but that is misleading because he played for a loaded team in Georgia's largest classification that lost only two games and featured other Division I prospects. Elliott also competes for one of the nation's top AAU squads based out of Atlanta.

Southeast women's basketball coach John Ishee's contract expires April 30 and he still hasn't been told by the university whether he will return next season.

Athletic director John Shafer plans to meet with Ishee soon to discuss Ishee's future with the Redhawks.

Even though Southeast's women just finished one of the worst seasons in program history, I think it would be an injustice if Ishee is shown the door.

Ishee took over a program in turmoil four years ago after all the NCAA violations and righted the ship, leading the Redhawks to consecutive Ohio Valley Conference regular-season titles in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

Despite this season's struggles, largely because of injury and inexperience, Ishee still has an impressive 69-53 record in his four seasons at Southeast. Compare that to the other so-called major sports at Southeast during that same period.

The top-seeded Murray State men's basketball team put the finishing touches on an amazing season with Saturday's 62-51 win over second-seeded Morehead State in the OVC tournament title game.

Murray heads to the NCAA tournament with a 30-4 record and is the first squad in OVC history to win 30 games.

On the women's side, Austin Peay upset its way to the OVC tournament crown for the second year in a row. The third-seeded Govs beat top-seeded Eastern Illinois 69-60 in the final. Last year the Govs won as a No. 5 seed.

Austin Peay will take a losing record -- 15-17 -- to the NCAA tournament.

Despite Saturday's second lopsided loss of the season to Kansas, what the Missouri basketball team is doing this year is impressive.

Many people thought the Tigers would have a significant dropoff after losing their top players from last season, but that hasn't been the case.

The Tigers are 22-9 overall and 10-6 in the Big 12 Conference. They're a virtual lock for a second straight NCAA tournament berth.

Mike Anderson appears to have built a good program and, with a young roster and some big-time recruits coming in, next season's outlook looks promising.

Former Notre Dame Regional High School basketball standout Ryan Willen is one win away from playing in the NCAA tournament.

Willen, a sophomore forward at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., scored 15 points Sunday as the Leopards beat Holy Cross 66-63 in the semifinals of the Patriot League tournament.

Lafayette will play Friday at 3:45 p.m. for the Patriot League title and an automatic NCAA berth. The championship game will be televised by ESPN2.

Willen is the No. 3 scorer and No. 2 rebounder for the 19-12 Leopards with averages of 12.1 points and 4.4 boards per game.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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