Arizona basketball: Walk-on with a voice

Grandson of Hazzard happy Point Guard U is also Broadcaster U
2013-01-16T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:23:58Z Arizona basketball: Walk-on with a voiceBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

When Jacob Hazzard joined the Arizona Wildcats as a walk-on guard last summer, he had plenty of role models to choose from.

Hazzard was particularly struck by Steve Kerr, and Miles Simon was already a mentor of sorts. The grandson of former UCLA standout Walt Hazzard also can look at the accomplishments of former UA standouts such as Sean Elliott, Tom Tolbert, Matt Muehlebach and Corey Williams.

Never mind that many of them played for the Wildcats before he was born. As a 5-foot-11-inch point guard who said he knew he "wasn't going to make the NBA because of my size," Hazzard was not looking at their playing careers.

He was looking at their work at the broadcast table.

After all, Point Guard U has become, almost as much as anything, Broadcaster U.

Kerr is a high-profile NBA and college commentator, Simon is now a regular on ESPN college basketball telecasts, and Elliott, Tolbert, Muehlebach and Williams have all been involved with some form of regional or national broadcasting work.

So, as a journalism major with aspirations of being a sportswriter and/or a television analyst, Hazzard jumped at a chance to tap into that network.

"I'm definitely looking forward to the summer, to see if I can interview with somebody and get an internship, do something in the business, the industry," the freshman said.

For now, though, Hazzard is pretty consumed with the business of basketball. He is spending much of his time these days as a scout team shooting guard, improving his shot and defending people such as Nick Johnson or Mark Lyons, while trying to give them an idea of what they might be facing in their next game.

One day he could "be" Chase Tapley of San Diego State or Damyean Dotson of Oregon; the next he could be up front defensively, mimicking one of Oregon State's zone defenses.

Hazzard joins a scout team that typically contains redshirting transfers T.J. McConnell and Matt Korcheck, as well as walk-ons Quinton Crawford, Drew Mellon and Max Wiepking.

"We play all of the defenses, and we try to make it as tough as possible," Hazzard said. "I think it's helped so far."

UA coach Sean Miller said Hazzard has done nothing but help the Wildcats in that role.

"He's a great kid and an excellent student," Miller said. "Like all of our players who have that role, he's very unselfish. He practices hard and represents the team we're about to play. It's great to have someone that smart and as talented as he is. … Obviously, with his family background, it makes a lot of sense that he's able to do the things he can do."

The surprising thing is that, even with his family lineage and accomplishments as a standout guard for Loyola High School in Los Angeles last season, Hazzard practically fell into the Wildcats' lap.

Hazzard averaged 12.3 points and shot 41 percent from three-point range last season for Loyola, once dropping 23 points on now-UA guard Gabe York and Orange Lutheran High School, and has played for Simon's high-profile California Supreme travel-ball club.

Hazzard was a scorer, with a famous grandfather who repeatedly told him to "shoot, shoot, shoot" at high school games before passing away in November 2011, and with a father, Yakub, who walked on to the Stanford basketball team. Jacob attracted interest from Division I schools such as Tulane and Cornell, plus some offers from Division II and Division III schools.

He could keep scoring as a collegian. Yet Hazzard was willing to give the ball up for good.

Without a major scholarship offer early last spring, Hazzard had pretty much decided to enroll at Arizona as a regular student and start pursuing a media career because he liked UA's academics, journalism program and location (not too far from home).

"It was a little more of a long-term thing," Hazzard said. "I wasn't thinking of walking on as an option."

Then one day, Loyola coach Jamal Adams called Hazzard into his office and told him Arizona had shown interest while watching him play. The Wildcats had been - and still are - heavily recruiting Loyola point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright and had seen Hazzard play in the process.

Soon, UA assistant coach Joe Pasternack and assistant basketball operations director Danny Peters called Hazzard to ask him if he would walk on at Arizona.

The Wildcats offered Hazzard a lot of uncompensated work and very little playing time (he has played only seven total minutes over four games so far), but lots of career upside.

It was a deal he could not refuse.

"It was just the perfect situation for me," Hazzard said. "I just knew in the long run this was the best place to be. There's a great coach, a great staff and the future is bright."

On StarNet: Follow the Cats with Bruce Pascoe's blog at azstarnet.com/pascoe

Jacob Hazzard • G

• Age, year: 19, freshman

• Hometown: Los Angeles

• High School: Loyola

• Major: Journalism

Up next

• What: No. 7 Arizona at ASU

• When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday on FSAZ

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