As a team we worked to get better and I was ready when I got an opportunity to play.
Men’s Basketball Team
2011: Games Started 33 – Games Played 33 – Academic All Big Ten Award Winner
2010: Games Started 0 – Games Played 19 – Scholarship
2009: Games Started 0 – Games Played 13 – Walk-on
Reggie Hearn had narrowed his college choices to Butler, Notre Dame, and Northwestern. Butler was not taking walk-ons. A coach at Notre Dame told him that if he got accepted to come and see him once he got to school. Northwestern University assistant coach Mitch Henderson (Currently Head Coach for Princeton University) sat down and spoke with Reggie, watched his tapes and told Reggie he would like to have him on the team. But Reggie would have to try-out. Reggie did and made the team.
WillofaChampion: Why do you think you weren’t offered a scholarship coming out of high school
Reggie: Mainly two reasons. I didn’t have a lot of AAU exposure. I came off the bench for my AAU team my junior and senior years. So scouts didn’t notice me. The second is that I was a 6’4 185lb Power Forward that didn’t shoot from the outside. Division one schools aren’t looking for a 6’4 Power Forward.
WillofaChampion: What has been one of your greatest challenges as a Walk-on?
Reggie: Sticking with it. In high school I played on a state championship team. I played most if not all that game. To go from that experience to not playing much was challenging. I didn’t expect to play much my freshman year. But my sophomore year was hard. I wanted to play and there were times I thought I could. I am glad I stuck with it.
WillofaChampion: Who did you speak with when you went through tough times?
Reggie: My mom. She was mainly a sounding-board. She didn’t say much. She helped me by listening.
WillofaChampion: Did you spend extra time running, lifting, and practicing compared to other players?
Reggie: I should have. But I don’t honestly think I spent more time than the other guys. I would stay after practice and shoot. But we have hard workers on our team. A lot of guys stayed after practice and worked on their shot. I didn’t do anything extra compared to the rest of the guys. This last year some guys got hurt so I got a chance to play. I didn’t get that chance because I spent more time than my teammates. As a team we worked to get better and I was ready when I got an opportunity to play.
WillofaChampion: Do you think a walk-on has to be more mentally tough compared to a scholarship player?
Reggie: Working as hard as scholarship players yet not having a scholarship was tough. But I worked through that and got a scholarship my sophomore year.
WillofaChampion: How did your teammates receive you?
Reggie: My first couple of days I showed up late to our work-outs. The rule was that if someone was late everyone had to run. So I wasn’t well liked at first. One guy went to our director of basketball operations and told him I shouldn’t be on the team. But as we hung-out they forgave me. We’re friends. Overall it has been really good.
WillofaChampion: How did your coaches receive you?
Reggie: Very well. Coach Henderson played a big role in bringing me to Northwestern because I felt like he actually wanted me. He and the other coaches didn’t treat me any different than the scholarship players.
WillofaChampion: How did you find out you received your scholarship?
Reggie: Coach called me at home in August. It was either the day of or right before my birthday. I was at my mom’s school helping her set-up her classroom. We celebrated! I picked her up and spun her around. With tuition going on $60,000 per year we were real happy. That was a great moment for us.
WillofaChampion: What impact has following your dream and earning it had on the rest of your life?
Reggie: After we won our state championship in high school I thought about not playing in college. My dad encouraged me to play. He believed I could play at any level. He didn’t want me to have any regrets. I didn’t want any either. I am so grateful I decided to play. Last summer our team went to Italy. That was an opportunity not many people get.
WillofaChampion: What advice do you have for other athletes considering walking on?
Reggie: Absolutely go for it. You may not think you’ll play but unexpected breaks will come. You just have to work hard and be ready when your turn comes. Being part of a division one program will give you many opportunities. Most division one teams travel internationally at least once in four years. You may get on the court of great stages like Madison Square Garden. Even if you’re only on the team a year or two – it is worth it.
Reggie Hearn is majoring in Psychology
Interview: September 5, 2012