Jeff Hagen Raises NBA Stock in Portsmouth
Jeff Hagen is a former walk-on who made himself into a NBA prospect with a strong senior season. He averaged 11.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game as he led the Gophers to the NCAA tournament and a 21-11 mark. <BR>
Hagen made five of 10 shots from the field and was one of two from the line and finished with 11 points and two rebounds in the P.I.T. opener as Norfolk Naval Shipyard jumped out to a 15-2 lead and cruised to a 103-69 win over Tidewater Sealants in the final first-round game of the Portsmouth Invitational. Gopher head coach Dan Monson was in attendance to watch the senior center.
Things did not look much better for the Tidewater Sealants team in their second game as they moved to the consolation bracket. Beach Barton Ford led 54-39 at halftime and fans thought another 30-point drubbing could be in the making. A second loss would eliminate Hagen's team and not allow him a third game to showcase his skills. However, Tidewater Sealants rallied to take a 78-75 lead and held on for the 91-88 victory. Hagen made three of six from the field and six of 10 from the line and finished with 12 points and two caroms in the win.
GoldenSports.Net caught up with Hagen in the locker room and got his thought on his play and trying to impress the scouts in attendance.
It was kind of an important win, since it gives you a chance to play one more game in front of the scouts. Nice comeback for you guys?
"It was nice to come back. It showed the character of every guy on this team. We were not going to give up, even though we were down 17. That shows what kind of people we are."
How hard is it to go and try to shine when you are playing with players that you have never played with before who are also trying to show off their game?
"You'd think sometimes it is, but we are unselfish and just trying to win. We are probably undermatched a little bit, but you have to find a happy medium of being able to show what you can do and yet not being selfish. You can shoot yourself in the foot, if you go five of 18. It hurts, cause even if you score 20, you went five of 18.
One of your strengths is your passing ability. However, when you are playing against guys that you have never played with before, who do don't know about your passing skills. You were sometimes holding onto the ball waiting for someone to cut and no one did. Is that a little frustrating?
"I was talking to my boy Brent Lawson, from my U of M team yesterday and I told him that I could use him here, because you get so good at knowing someone's preferences. That's what makes this difficult is that you don't know everyone's preferences. I'm still trying to figure out that. I like to pass on the cut. We have a couple of passes today and one yesterday, so it is coming along."
You play in the NABC All-Star Game against the Harlem Globetrotters during Final Four Weekend. Did that experience help you here?
"You get used to playing in All-Star games. It is a little more physical, playing against grown men. It is good to playing against a high caliber of players. It helps you out."
I know that it is early in the process, but have you talked to any NBA teams yet?
I have talked to no one really. I'm still trying to find an agent. I decided that I was going to wait a week or so after the Portsmouth Tournament to decide on an agent. I'm just trying to go out and play some ball and see what happens after that.
Are the agents you are looking at local people or not?
"I got some guys from all over the country. A couple from down in Florida and Chicago. There is also a lot of Minneapolis interest."
Coach Monson was down to watch you last night. Did that help you a little knowing that you had familiar face in the crowd?
"It was nice having him here. I was really glad that Coach came down. It was really nice of him to come and support me. He gave me a little advice before the game, telling me to just play my game and that is all they (the scouts) want to see."
Alan Anderson of Michigan State was supposed to be on your team, but had to pull out, due to knee surgery. You know him a little. Were you looking forward to playing with him?
"He is a fun player to play with. He is a winner and he is going to do all the dirty work."
Hagen had his best game of the tournament in the consolation title game as he made eight of 11 shots and finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds in a 122-100 loss.
GoldenSports.Net caught up with Hagen after the game.
Even though you lost, you had your best game of the tournament. How did you feel about your effort?
"I felt pretty good about everything. I would have liked to have had a different outcome, but they made a lot of shots and got out on the break and made some easy points of off that. But it was felt good to go out and play well. It was a good way to leave."
You finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Is that about what you thought?
"I had no idea whatsoever, but I felt pretty good. I'm really happy with results like that. But it was not a "W." That would have made it better."
Were you pretty happy with the rebounding numbers? You had kind of bad luck the first two games with just two rebounds in each contest.
"It's been frustrating. I'd be on the right side and the ball would go left. It was just one of the days the first two games. I was able to get my hands on a few today and to do that felt good.
What have you been able to learn from this experience?
"That I can play with any competition across the country. That I am definitely one of the better big men around. I have to keep working and see what happens."
What things are you going to continue to work on leading up to the draft?
"I'm going to work on my strength. I'm going to start to get back into the weight room. I have not been able to do a lot, being out of town so much. I'm going to try to get back into the weight room, that is the biggest thing. Get my strength back up. I have not really lifted hard since January. That and working out on my own. Working on my jumper and hook."
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