In an effort to improve his chances of earning a college basketball scholarship, Garces graduate Jack Hatten moved 2,200 miles to attend Florida Coastal Prep, a post-grad high school in Fort Walton, Fla.
And after working on his game the past six months and averaging about 10 points a game at FCP, the 6-foot-5 forward definitely received more exposure playing against some high-level competition.
But in Hatten’s case, his eventual landing spot received a bit of an assist from closer to home, namely his twin cousins, Hayden and Hogan Hatten, who play football at Idaho.
Thanks to an unlikely conversation between the cousins and Vandals’ head basketball coach Zac Claus, Jack Hatten will be joining the twins at the Moscow, Idaho, campus in the fall.
“I was ecstatic,” said Hatten after accepting a partial scholarship to play at Idaho next season. “I felt like all of my hard work finally paid off. I did the prep school thing for six months, it was kind of dead and I wasn’t hearing anything. But after (hearing from Idaho), I felt like everything I did was worth it.”
Although Jack had his share of NCAA Division II offers, the opportunity to play at Division I level was too much to pass up.
“I was just weighing my options, and even walking on at Miami or Long Beach State,” said Jack Hatten, whose father John, starred at Long Beach State. “It’s D-I, but I’m never going to see the floor at those places. The University of Idaho I really believe was the best opportunity and I really feel like I can help them out.”
Hatten’s emergence as a recruit for the Vandals sprung to life during a chance encounter between Hayden, Hogan and Claus in the Idaho gym. After watching the twins play basketball, Jack said Claus commented that the two should play both sports at the school. The cousins suggested he would be better suited recruiting Jack, and the recruitment process began to pick up speed.
The Idaho coaching staff contacted Jack and FCP basketball coach Lee DeForest, who provided game footage. The Vandals staff was also able to watch a few livestream games and eventually extended an offer to Jack after several weeks.
“Opportunities like this are much easier when they kind of know the person before he gets there,” DeForest said. “Ultimately thought he’d be a good fit for what they’re building there.
“Jack is still developing. His best basketball is in front of him, but the separator for Jack is his energy level, his motivation to improve … obviously he has some skills, but they’re projecting him out, expecting him to come in and work really hard, and I think he’s going to do that.”
As the recruitment process began to unfold, Hatten said he was cautiously optimistic.
“I did the recruiting thing with football in high school,” said Hatten, a second-team BVarsity All-Area basketball player who also starred as a wide receiver on the Rams’ football team. “I know what happens. You talk to (coaches) a few times and it’s over, and it just gets shut down. So I didn’t get my hopes up about it at all. If it happens, it happens. I wasn’t stressing about it if that makes sense.”
But now Hatten is focused on the next chapter of his athletic career. He said he and his father are planning to fly up for an unofficial visit to the campus in the next few weeks.
“I was averaging about 10 (points) a game at the prep school, I mean it wasn’t anything special,” said Hatten, who is working out with former Ridgeview quarterback/trainer Tyler Ferguson and local basketball coach Elbert Watkins in preparation for next season. “And then I started just sending out that game film out to a ton of schools, and I got a few bites. Some Division II schools and they were going to give me a little bit of money.
“And the University of Idaho, I mean they’re giving me a partial (scholarship). I mean they were (1-22) last year. So I just thought it was D-I versus D-II, and why not bet on myself there. I definitely feel like I improved and I for sure got more looks than I got in high school, which was the goal. And I feel like I accomplished that goal.”