ULM men's basketball senior Tony Hooper was granted a medical hardship waiver from the Sun Belt Conference and will return for his senior season, the league office and head coach Orlando Early announced Wednesday morning.
Hooper, a 5-11 guard from Houston, Texas, who ranks amongst the programs scoring elites, will get a second chance at a senior season after missing all but four games during the 2008-09 campaign. He missed the final 18 games of the season after suffering a broken foot in practice on December 30.
"We are excited for Tony as much as we are for our program," Early said. "He had a tough senior year with only competing in four games and breaking his foot. There is no question about his basketball talent and how good he can be for our program. We are excited to have him back."
A Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team selection last year, Hooper started the Warhawks first three contests before sitting out the next eight. He came off the bench and played four injury-shortened minutes against Tennessee Tech at home on December 29 before breaking his foot the next day.
Hooper averaged 8.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game on the season after averaging 13.8 points per game over his first three campaigns at ULM.
Entering the 2009-10 campaign, Hooper ranks 15th all-time in ULM program history in scoring. His 1,275 career points are 153 behind 10th place Paul Marshall and 441 behind fifth place Jerry Jingles. He also ranks third in 3-pointers made (178), sixth in steals (156), and 10th in assists (266) in the career annals at ULM.
"To have get the chance to come back and play for us as a fifth year senior is going to be tremendous," Early said. "He has accomplished a lot since he has been here. This summer we both sat down and talked about the fact that we have only got one championship. That is something we want to change this year."
Hooper will join a 2009-10 Warhawk squad that returns all five starters from last season's team. In total, ULM returns 88.4 percent of its points and the top seven scorers from last season's squad.
To qualify for a medical hardship, applicants must meet a base three criteria. The injury must have occurred prior to the start of the second half of the student-athletes respective season, the student-athlete must have participated in less than 30 percent of his team's game, and must have at least one year remaining on his five-year eligibility clock.