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Ball State hoops adds Arkansas transfer

From the SEC to the MAC, Brachen Hazen coming back home

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Greenville Practice Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

I know that most of you are focused on football, but when there’s SHOOTYHOOPS news that you need to know, you came to the right place. This week it was announced that the Ball State Cardinals have added a transfer from the Arkansas Razorbacks, former Indiana all-stater, 6’8” Brachen Hazen.

Hazen will sit out the coming season then have three years in Cardinal and white. It’s a big get for head coach James Whitford and sets the Cardinals up to potentially establish themselves as THE team in the Mid-American Conference going forward.

From BSU’s release:

Former Indiana All-Star Brachen Hazen joined the Ball State men’s basketball program this week with the beginning of the university’s second summer session.

Hazen, a 6-foot-8 transfer from Arkansas, will sit out the 2017-18 season and then have three years of eligibility with the Cardinals.

“We’re thrilled to add Brachen Hazen,” Ball State coach James Whitford said. “Brachen is someone we recruited extensively out of high school. We were disappointed when he didn’t come here the first time but equally exhilarated that he chose us this time.”

Hazen was an all-state player at Columbia City High School west of Fort Wayne, averaging 16.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game as a senior. Rated among the top 50 small forwards in the country by 247Sports, he signed with Arkansas out of high school. He appeared in 14 games as a freshman with the Razorbacks.

“Brachen has a really bright future as a player,” Whitford said. “He’s a terrific athlete who is highly skilled and motivated. More importantly, he’s an outstanding young man who comes from a great family. He really believes in this school and came here to help us accomplish special things.”

Hazen, who played with the 2016 Indiana All-Stars alongside current BSU forward Kyle Mallers, joins a stable of in-state products with the Cardinals. Ball State will have eight past Indiana All-Stars on the roster this season, the most for one team since Purdue had eight in 1998-99.

The other former All-Stars on the roster include Tayler Persons (2014), Sean Sellers (2014), Jeremie Tyler (2014), Tahjai Teague (2015), K.J. Walton (2015), Mallers (2016) and Zach Gunn (2017).

Walton also joined the program this summer as an SEC transfer, returning to his home state after playing his freshman year at Missouri. Like Hazen, he will sit out the upcoming season.

Ball State is coming off back-to-back 21-win campaigns and postseason appearances. The Cardinals have also shared the MAC West Division championship in each of the past two seasons. This year’s team is set to return eight letterwinners and 70 percent of its scoring from last year.

The word around the Hustle Belt campfire is that this coming season could be a special one in Muncie. Listen to some of the more hardcore BSU basketball fans and they’ll tell you it’s a long time coming and well-needed for the coaches and staff there. Bonzi Wells was quite a while ago and despite the two 21-win seasons there’s been a general malaise around the program in regard to basketball. In hoops crazy Indiana, that’s not a sustainable strategy.

So while Hazen may not be on the court for the Cardinals, it’s a sure bet that his work in practice and preparing those that will be suiting up may be the extra push to get BSU over the top and let the fans and players do some celebrating in Cleveland come March. Welcome back home, Brachen, and welcome to MACtion.