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Indiana Native Reggie Hearn Honored by USA Basketball

  • Author:
    Gary R. Blockus, Red Line Editorial
  • Date:
    Dec 1, 2018

Reggie Hearn, a 6-foot-4 guard who currently is playing for the USA Basketball Men's World Cup Qualifying Team, constantly has been challenged and has succeeded in overcoming self-doubt to rise to the highest levels of basketball.

The 27-year-old native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, has transformed from walk-on at Northwestern University — where he earned Academic All-Big Ten three years running — to recently being named to his fourth USA Basketball World Cup Qualifying Team.

Currently a member of the Stockton Kings in the NBA G League, Hearn is the winner of the prestigious USA Basketball 2018 Male Athlete of the Year award.

“It was completely unexpected and kind of came out of nowhere,” said Hearn, whose two-way contract with the Detroit Pistons last season afforded him the opportunity to play in three NBA games. 

Hearn joins a storied list of players who have won the award, including NBA superstars Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kyrie Irving and Hearn’s AmeriCup and World Cup Qualifying teammate Jameel Warney, last year’s winner.

“Just to see that I’m included amongst that group is an incredible honor and something I never thought I’d be able to experience,” he said. 

Hearn’s post-collegiate career includes a plethora of honors but reached its zenith last season with his selection to his first USA Basketball World Cup Qualifying Team, as well as earning NBA experience. 

This season, he helped the 2018 USA World Cup Qualifying Team to a 2-0 record in September, including scoring 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the 3-point line in a 78-48 win over Panama during September second-round games. He started both games in the opening round in June/July 2018 as the team went 1-1, averaging 23.0 minutes, 13.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game with 9-of-19 shooting from the floor and 7-for-12 from the 3-point line.

He also was one of three USA World Cup Qualifying Team members invited to the July USA Men’s National Team minicamp in Las Vegas.

In 2017, Hearn helped the USA AmeriCup Team win a gold medal with a 5-0 record, and he averaged 10.0 points a game at that event, and he helped the 2017 USA World Cup Qualifying Team to two wins last November, averaging 11.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game during those two contests.

Hearn has been playing in the NBA G League since graduating from Northwestern in 2013, contributing solid play for the Idaho Stampede, Reno Bighorns, Grand Rapids Drive as well as the Stockton Kings, and he played for the Sacramento Kings in the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League.

All this from a young man who didn’t draw major attention coming out of high school, but who challenged himself nonetheless.

“I had some (NCAA) Division III schools talking to me, and one Division II school, the University of Indianapolis, some NAIA offers, but if I was going to play basketball, I wanted to do it at the highest level,” Hearn said.

“I always remember what my dad told me. He told me I didn’t want to be that guy hanging out at the barber shop, saying, ‘Back in the day, I could have done this, I would have done this if I didn’t tear my ACL.’ Ultimately, that was my big decision to play in college. It kind of keeps me going now. If at any point I get discouraged, I realized none of these incredible things would have happened for me.”

Hearn points to that and his Christian faith as driving factors in his desire to compete on the court and overcome anxiety and panic disorder off the court that caused sometimes inescapable fear and doubt. 

“I think panic attacks are obviously the physical manifestation of the fear going on in your mind,” he said. “For me, I talked with a lot of people that loved me, shared the truth with me and was able to find spaces where I could be with people and tell them what’s going on in my mind … Having people speak the truth to me is something that I needed, and that’s a powerful message, that we can be open and vulnerable. We are humans, and our tendency is to hide when we are in fear because we are ashamed, but that’s not how we heal and grow.”

Fighting his own doubts took family, loved ones and counseling, but it also meant relying on his lifelong faith.

“It was remembering what God has done for me, and not wanting to shortchange that,” Hearn said. 

Last summer, that future opened up in a big way, with Hearn first playing in the summer league with Sacramento and then getting a call from current-Stockton Kings coach Ty Ellis, who was Jeff Van Gundy’s assistant with the 2017 USA AmeriCup Team.  

“I asked, ‘Are guys saying no to this? Why are you calling me?’” Hearn remembered. “And then I trained with the team, coach Van Gundy liked me, I played well in the AmeriCup, and from there, developed a pretty good rapport with USA Basketball National Team Director Sean Ford, and I had every opportunity to play and help the United States accomplish its goals.”

Hearn says he can’t describe the incredible and powerful feeling he has donning the USA jersey. The success he has achieved in order to be named USA Basketball’s 2018 Male Athlete of the Year extends beyond him.

“There’s a common phrase that says it takes a village to raise a child,” he said. “Thank you to my family, my friends, my fiancé. As I reflect on my career, there are so many people who have helped me along the way.” 

Hearn is especially grateful for his mom, Lisa, who spent her time and money taking him to play in basketball leagues and buying him his first Little Tykes basketball hoop, and his dad, Crane, for taking him to the YMCA to work on shooting, as well as friends and therapists who helped him hone his game.

“This award goes to me in name, but I want to thank all those people without whom I wouldn’t be here, and thank Jesus who created me and created this opportunity for me.”

Hearn and the USA next will take on Uruguay at 6 p.m. EDT on Dec. 2 in Montevideo, Uruguay (ESPN+).


Gary R. Blockus is a freelance writer contributor to USAB.comon behalf of Redline Editorial, Inc.



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