As debuts go, this one was memorable more for the setting — Rome — than the stats line. But this appearance in an exhibition game was about anything but numbers.
Austin Hatch, who entered in the last three minutes of the Wolverines’ 99-60 victory over the Perugia Select team Sunday, is the young man who survived two airplane crashes that claimed many of his family members and delayed his arrival in college. Shortly after committing to Michigan 1,129 days ago, Hatch was in a plane crash in which his father, and stepmother were killed and he was left in a medically induced coma. After he regained consciousness, he had to learn to walk and talk again. Improbably, he and his father had survived another plane crash when Austin was 8, a crash that took the lives of his mother, older sister, and younger brother.
Hatch took the court to a standing ovation from Michigan supporters who included his grandfather.
“As you can imagine it has been a heck of a journey to get here,” Hatch, 19, said (via MLive.com). “Playing basketball at the University of Michigan has been my goal since I was a little kid. It was unreal to be here and to have actually played a game.
“I really feel like I have that game under my belt now and I really feel like a Michigan basketball player.”
Hatch, a 6-foot-6 guard, played the last three minutes of Sunday’s win and had no points, shots, rebounds, assists or steals — all of which was beside the point.
If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he grabbed headlines last January when he played for the first time in three years for his Loyola High School team in Los Angeles. And his appearance Sunday on the court was just as emotional as that.
— Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) August 17, 2014
Sorry, it’s getting a little dusty in here. — Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) August 17, 2014