Posted On: 04/25/18 5:00 AM
Johnstown-Monroe is home to Owen Hazelbaker (2019), a 6’7” forward with a high IQ, toughness, inside-out scoring ability, defensive versatility a strong academic resumé, and D-I/D-II college interest.
We’ve all known about Hazelbaker for a while, but he really made an impression in their tournament game against Grandview Heights this season.
Johnstown 6’6 F Owen Hazelbaker (2019) is out here calling out the opponents plays. Beating players to their spot by a mile. Kid did his homework.
— Anthony C. Garcia (@nthonyCgarcia) March 3, 2018
It was a unique scouting experience, as you don’t usually see a player combine homework with physicality in the way Hazelbaker did to anchor their defense. Turns out, it’s not an uncommon occurrence either.
“I’ll always ask for the call sheet of the other team, just so I know what plays they’re running,” Hazelbaker explained. “Actually knowing what’s coming before a team runs it, not just in the middle of it, really is something I like to do just personally. And watch a little bit of film and know what’s going on.”
It was a disruptive factor down the stretch of a tournament game. By the way, it helps when you have a collegiate frame, length, and the ability to move your feet.
“I’m a pretty solid defender most of the time, just because I can matchup with most positions. I can play physical down-low if I need to guard a bigger guy. I’m not able to stick with most point guards, but shooting guards and power forwards and small forwards I can mostly stick with,” Hazelbaker said.
Offensively, he’s comfortable shooting the 3-pointer and has plenty of time during the school year to work on his back-to-the-basket game. However, with Nova (Russell) this season, Hazelbaker is excited to continue expanding his offensive abilities.
“Nova gives me an opportunity to play face-up to the basket and do some things I wouldn’t normally do in school basketball, which is really nice,” Hazelbaker said.
He prefers being able to face-up and attack from the mid-range, which is why he’s dedicating time and effort to that part of his game right now.
“I’m comfortable in [mid-range] in work-outs and in open gyms. But in game scenarios, that’s definitely something I’m working on. That’s a work in progress right now is developing a mid-range and one-dribble pull-up, two-dribble pull-up,” Hazelbaker said.
Lafayette, Ashland, Navy, Army, and Air Force have shown interest in Hazelbaker up to this point. The big man carries between a 4.2-4.3 GPA and scored a 25 on the ACT for his first attempt.
Lafayette, who plays in the Patriot League, is the school in most frequent communication with Hazelbaker. They started their process with him in the last month.
His one visit was to Ashland, a school and program he spoke highly of and where his toughness, intelligence, and talent could fit.
“I really like [Ashland]. They have a nice campus and good coaching staff. And as far as I can tell, a pretty good team. I like them,” Hazelbaker said.
The three military academies have spoken with Hazelbaker’s AAU coach exclusively.
“It would definitely be something I would have to look into more just because it’s such a unique opportunity. I’d definitely be willing to at least look into it. I don’t want to turn anything down without giving it a shot first,” Hazelbaker said.
The high-academic prospect will either study business or pre-med as an undergraduate student. To go along with his first priority of academics, Hazelbaker is looking for a successful basketball program.
After a weekend in Pittsburgh, Hazelbaker is traveling with his Nova team to Manheim, PA for another Hoop Group event this weekend.