Indiana forward Collin Hartman will be recognized at Senior Night on Saturday, but the possibility remains that Hartman could have a second Senior Night next year.
Hartman, an Indiana native, has missed the entire season after undergoing knee surgery last September. Hartman started 27 games for the Hoosiers’ Big Ten title team a season ago.
“I haven’t yet decided one way or the other, if I’m going to stay or go,” Hartman said Friday. “Coach [Tom] Crean‘s done a great job of supporting me whichever route I decide. It’s good to have options.”
Hartman’s career has been scarred by injuries, starting with a torn ACL following his freshman season. He returned as a sophomore and played in 32 of Indiana’s 34 games.
Hartman missed practice time with a rib injury leading up to his junior year, and he played through a wrist injury at the end of last season. He has one year of eligibility remaining if he decides to return and play next season. Hartman could also transfer and play a final year elsewhere.
“There’s a lot of things that go into it — how well my knee progresses, how well I feel, how well my body feels, other opportunities,” Hartman said. “I love the game of basketball and I always will. It’s all I’ve ever done, to be honest with you.”
Added Crean: “If he decides that he wants to continue with this, then we’ll have another senior day. But in case he doesn’t, he’s earned the opportunity to do it now.”
I had the opportunity to write a long feature story on Hartman prior to his freshman year at Indiana, and I was fortunate enough to have an up-close look at his first couple years in the program. Hartman had no idea what he was in for when he stepped on campus for the first time. I wasn’t sure he was going to make it.
But after Hartman tore his ACL, it became clear during his rehab process that he had the determination to be successful at Indiana. When he finally returned to the floor, he did so a much more mature and mentally-strong player.
“I don’t think you can fully understand or comprehend the magnitude of putting on that jersey and the feeling that you get,” Hartman said. “It’s something else. It’s crazy, and it will change you, for better or for worse. If you don’t conform to the culture and to the difficulties and the speed of the game, it will eat you up. That’s where mental toughness comes into play. I do not think I had a lot of that coming into college. I may have thought I did, but when I got here, it started eating me up. It was really tough. I had second thoughts about it, but everybody always supported me, kept pushing me.
“I think one of the best things that happened to me was actually my first injury, tearing my ACL. That really gave me a work ethic that I don’t think I really had before, and it gave me a drive and a hunger to somehow prove people wrong that didn’t believe in me. It gave me a hunger to prove those people and myself wrong. I think that was one of the biggest things that changed me. It’s been a long ride, but it’s definitely been worth it.”
I hope you’ll get out to Assembly Hall tonight, stand and cheer loudly for Hartman. He’s earned it, and then some.
“It’s tough, man, seeing a lot of these guys on this team struggle and not being able to physically do anything about it,” Hartman said of this season. “You can coach, you can talk to guys, you can dissect film, you can talk to them extra about the game plan, but you can’t do anything physically to help them out there on the court. It’s tough sitting on the sidelines. Sometimes I lose my voice just yelling.”