Hagen looking toward NBA

Jeff Hagen isn’t giving up just because he probably won’t get drafted Tuesday.

Matt Perkins

You look around the NBA and you will see players of all shapes and sizes, each with their own unique ability which has gotten them where they are today.

Five-foot-5-inch Early Boykins can run circles around the fastest guard in the league; 7-foot-6-inch Shawn Bradley can block shots above the rim with his feet on the ground.

With the 2005 NBA Draft coming up Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York, the names called aren’t likely to include former Minnesota men’s basketball center Jeff Hagen. But that doesn’t mean Hagen isn’t working on getting noticed by the league and hopefully catching on with a team at some point.

“It’s all out of my hands until I can get on the court and show them what I can do,” Hagen said.

On the contrary, those who have followed Hagen’s progress as an NBA prospect say that it is, in fact, all in his hands.

“He has great hand-eye coordination for a man his size, great hands,” Gophers coach Dan Monson said.

The 7-foot center from Minnetonka, Minn., has caught the attention of NBA scouts through his performance at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in April in Virginia – thanks in large part to his hands.

Hagen’s three-game performance saw him average 14 points, five rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 blocks while shooting 59.3 percent (16-for-27) from the field in 23.7 minutes of action. He had a double-double in his last game, shooting 8-of-11 for 19 points and grabbing 11 boards.

“One of the things that separates me from the rest of the pack is my agility and hands,” Hagen said. “My performance at Portsmouth put me on the radar screen for a lot of NBA teams.”

Since then, Hagen has been working out, trying to improve his conditioning and strength – specifically, his lower-body strength.

Working on all aspects of the game, Hagen’s rigorous workouts include a daily schedule of 8 a.m. on the court, 11 a.m. lifting and another lifting session at 3 p.m.

The innovative training exercises are in hopes of improving his value come draft time.

Although Hagen does not expect to be drafted, he does plan on getting an invite to play on a Summer League team, and he can’t wait to get out there and show them what he can do.

Scouts from across the NBA were already impressed at Portsmouth, said Marty Blake, the NBA’s director of scouting and co-director of the Portsmouth tournament.

“I just know he has improved every year at Minnesota,” Blake said. “He has shown some offensive ability, and he is a hard worker. That’s good enough for me. That should get him some looks.”

As far as draft expectations go, Blake said he would have no qualms with someone taking Hagen in the second round.

“I don’t put any expectations on him, because I got him to Portsmouth, my job is done,” Blake said. “I think eventually he has a chance to play in the NBA. I urge him to continue his basketball preparation because sometimes it takes a little bit longer for a center.”