St. John’s Marcus Hatten Sets Sights
Is there such a thing as a “quiet leader”? On the basketball floor there is: “I don’t know what happened out there,” St. John’s All-American candidate guard Marcus Hatten whispered softly after the Red Storm dropped an unexpected decision last week to Manhattan at Madison Square Garden. “But whatever it was, I take responsibility. I am the leader of this team and, when I got out there, I found myself just going through the motions.”
How come he couldn’t hit a second gear? “I wish I could explain it,” he says. “Maybe it was my biorhythms or something.”
If anything, Hatten has an overgrown sense of responsibility. He’s a communications major carrying a “B” average at St. John’s who wants to “go back to the neighborhood and work with kids” should he not make it to the NBA next year. However, it’s impossible to imagine Hatten not playing for pay: there are 348 active spots in the league—29 teams, 12 players each—and if this mercurial scoring machine is not among the 348 best players in the universe then something’s askew.
Hatten, who honed his game at Tallahassee Junior College for two years before coming to St. John’s, is both hugely talented and deliciously driven. His movements on the floor are so quirky, so inexorably unique, that he can’t quite recognize, analyze, or even explain them himself. So imagine the difficulties his opponents must have.
Yes, guarding this guy is an atonal nightmare. “I hear music,” Hatten says. “I try to find a beat, a rhythm, and get into a groove. It’s a feeling, like a creative force possesses me. I just do something totally instinctively—then, if it works, I get to practicing it and add the move to my repertoire in a conscious manner.”
At an athletic 6’1”, Hatten’s quicksilver game is utterly unpredictable. That’s what makes him so much fun to watch — and so difficult to decipher. “Can he make it in the league? Well, I don’t know whether this kid is a point guard or a shooting guard in the pros,” an NBA scout scratched his head courtside while watching Hatten destroy his defender against Hofstra. “He’s really a “two” (shooting guard) with a “one’s” (point guard’s) height and body.” Oh, no, not one of those notorious ‘tweeners? “A ‘one’? A ‘two’? Ridiculous!” Red Storm coach Mike Jarvis thunders. “Is there a better guard in the country? I can’t think of one; Marcus is a player. He’s going to be a tremendous force in the NBA.”
Has this scout ever heard of Eddie House? Troy Hudson? Allen Iverson? Much like The Answer—the league’s Most Valuable Player two years back—Hatten is a rare two-way player, a scoring superstar who uses his extreme quickness and uncanny athleticism to also play glovelike defense. Who cares if he’s primarily a shooter who can pass or a passer who can score? A genius such as Hatten, that unique player who feels that the worse the shot the better the chance he has to make it, is unstoppable.
He’s proving that now, for the second season in a row, as the Red Storm—for better or worse—remains a team that’s all about Hatten. With the rest of the Johnnies so raw, defenses are all geared to stopping him—and they can’t. “The Hat”, who was the first first-year player ever to lead the Big East Conference in scoring last year (22.8 points per game), is racking up baskets at an even faster pace this season.
Still, Hatten’s not about bragging—he doesn’t even like talking too much about himself. Still, his quiet self-possession helps: “That comes from Baltimore, where I grew up, the hard streets,” he smiles. “There, if you act like you have no confidence, you’re dead. And I’m a survivor. I want to get to the next level. I want to succeed.”
“I know that whenever I’m going to step on the basketball court I have the talent to make a great contribution. Even if it’s at the highest level. Even if it’s in the NBA.”#