Ball State redshirt sophomore forward Brachen Hazen dunks the ball during the Cardinals' exhibition game against University of Indianapolis Nov. 2, 2018, in John E. Worthen Arena. Ball State won 92 to 76. Paige Grider, DN
COLUMN: Key to early success for Ball State Men’s Basketball lies with Hazen
In his first collegiate start as a Cardinal, redshirt sophomore forward Brachen Hazen stepped up to fill in the minutes not taken by former All-MAC defenseman, senior Trey Moses.
Hazen grew into an all star at Columbia City High School in Columbia City, Indiana. The forward averaged 16.1 points and 9.3 rebounds a game his senior year, landing him a top 50 ranking of small forwards in the Nation by 247Sports. His freshman year of college was spent at Arkansas where he made 14 appearances in the season. Hazen transferred to Ball State last year and made his Cardinal debut Tuesday against Indiana State.
No matter what, it is important to not sleep on the 6’8” forward who has a huge love of the sport that carries onto the floor. With his first opportunity since high school to get some serious time on the court, there is no question Hazen will make the most of every minute he plays.
If the Cardinals want to kick off the season on a good note, they need to take advantage of Hazen’s skill set as much as possible. With Moses being limited in the amount of minutes he can play, Hazen is the one who can step up and deliver quality performances.
Hazen proved this by shooting 6-6 from the field with a career-high 26 minutes played. Hazen also added nine rebounds and an assist to round out his Cardinal debut. Head coach James Whitford allowed Moses 11 minutes of game time during the Cardinals’ season opener. The senior went 0-3 from the field with four blocks.
Moses is fighting a right knee injury, which is limiting the amount of time he spends on the court. It is clear Moses is one of the main leaders for the Cardinals on and off the floor. With his injury, he can still be a leader of morale on the sideline, but he will not be able to produce as much on the court like he has in the past.
Since we are only one official game into the season, it is hard to tell if Hazen will live up to the hype that he established against Indiana State. Whether he can continue to put up impressive numbers consistently or not, he is the key component at least until Moses is at full strength.
With redshirt senior Tayler Persons’ fast pace on the floor and redshirt junior Tahjai Teague’s dominant presence, it is important to have someone to gather rebounds and dish out assists. Even better is someone who can do all this and score points on top of it. Hazen is the answer until Moses is healthy.
This greenhorn on the Cardinals roster has a lot to prove but even more to gain while being able to play for more than 20 minutes a game. Hazen may not be the answer to all of the Cardinals’ prayers, but he is definitely a start. For now.