South Xtra: Hagerty is ready to march to his own beat at Colgate


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Wyatt Hagerty didn't care much about basketball four years ago.

Entering Bethel Park High School as a long-haired, 6-foot-5 freshman, Hagerty was more interested in music.

"I had a bowl cut with hair coming down past my eyes and thought playing drums in a band was cool," he said. "I guess that's what I thought was cool at the time."

His priorities, however, soon changed.

Hagerty ended up joining the Black Hawks basketball team that freshman season and quickly realized he might have more talent with a ball than a percussion instrument.

As he continued to grow as a player, his body never stopped growing, either.

This past season, Hagerty's stature of 6-11 and 265 pounds made him the biggest player in the WPIAL. He also transformed himself into a legitimate big man on the court and quickly drew interest from a number of Division I programs.

"It's been a long road," Hagerty said. "Quite honestly, I stunk as a player until just recently. Sometimes when you're tall, you have that sense of entitlement that you belong on a basketball court.

"I realized if I wanted to play at the next level, I had to do more than just bring my height to a game."

After receiving a few scholarship offers during his junior and senior years, Hagerty was set to enroll next fall in the IMG Academy, a prep school in Bradenton, Fla., that specializes in helping athletes improve. That plan quickly changed a few weeks ago when he signed with Colgate University, an NCAA Division I program.

Colgate, located in Hamilton, N.Y., is a member of the Patriot League, which only began allowing schools to offer basketball scholarships in the fall of 1998.

"I was getting endless calls from schools throughout the summer of my junior year into my senior year," Hagerty said. "My phone never stopped ringing. Colgate was talking to me at the end of my junior year and then we lost contact.

"I had visited the school and fell in love with the campus and really liked the coaching staff. When they called me a few weeks ago, it ended up being the easiest decision I ever made. It's a dream come true."

As a senior, Hagerty averaged 11 points, 16 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.

"Wyatt brings a very, very big presence being that he's close to 7 feet and 265 pounds," Bethel Park coach Ben O'Connor said. "He's a post player with good hands and good feet for a big kid."

Last season, Bethel Park went 11-3 and finished second behind Upper St. Clair in WPIAL Class AAAA Section 4. The Black Hawks ended the year 17-6 overall after losing to McKeesport in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.

"It was just good to see us improve over the past few years," Hagerty said. "We progressively started winning more and more and increased our win total each year.

"That's what I'm most proud of. This past season was the program's best year since winning a WPIAL championship [in 2007]."

O'Connor also noticed the remarkable development Hagerty displayed throughout his high school career.

"It's not like he couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time, but he certainly wasn't the player he is now," O'Connor said. "Slowly and surely he began to understand things. He also gained a lot of confidence and self-esteem by getting in the weight room."

Hagerty also credited his commitment to conditioning and weight training.

"I never take a day off," said Hagerty, who is playing basketball in South Park's over-18 men's summer basketball league. "I'm usually lifting three days a week and playing basketball every day. I love to lift and work out.

"I actually love working out and conditioning more than playing basketball. I guess it's easier for me, mentally."

O'Connor believes his former big man will need the right mental approach when competing at the next level.

"There's the physical part of the game and the speed of the game, plus playing at the Division I level involves a full-year commitment," O'Connor said. "Wyatt will have to buy into that this is a full-time job on and off the court.

"With his traits and tools, he's going to have to put all of his time in continuing his development for the next four to five years. He can do it and Colgate is getting a great prospect."

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