Austin Hatch and his attempts to recover from the tragic plane crash that destroyed his family. So much in fact that the IHSAA has decided to allow Hatch an extra year in high school. This has a multitude of effects on both Hatch, Michigan, and the team's future recruiting plans. I will break down that impact below, but I first want to congratulate the IHSAA on making the right decision. Much like the situation involving DeAnthony Arnett, it doesn't matter whether it will benefit one school or another, it was the right thing to do for both the NCAA and the IHSAA. Not only for athletic reasons, but also for academic reasons. The recovery time put Austin significantly behind in his studies and an extra year will allow him to regain his standing and get ready to attend the University of Michigan.
Now, to get into some of the impact of this decision. The first impact will be on Austin himself. Obviously, the extra time to get settled both academically and athletically will be a great benefit, but it's going to go a long way towards preparing him for college and specifically, basketball at the collegiate level. To be frank, Austin's injury during the plane crash put him behind schedule in his college preparation. While most athletes are preparing during the summer and their senior year to be ready for college, Austin has to recover to simply get himself back on the court. There are still doubts about how much time he will even see this basketball season. For a player trying to step in and contribute at a school like Michigan, high school preparation is key to making a great transition.
For instance, a lot has been made about Burke's summer workouts before he got to Ann Arbor and now people are checking out the great things players like Derrick Walton is doing to prepare for college. Austin hasn't really had the ability to prepare in this way and if he was getting to campus next fall (2013) he would have been at a pretty big disadvantage. There was no doubt he would have been redshirting his first season at Michigan. He probably still will redshirt when he gets to school (2014), but think of it this way. Under his old timetable, he would have been trying to get back on the court in high school, redshirting, and then would be burning through his college eligiblity while still getting himself ready.
This extra year of eligibility is really going to take a lot of the pressure off Austin, at least in my opinion. He can use this season to get back on the court and playing again. Next season, he can begin really contributing again at the high school level. Then, during the 2014-2015 Michigan season, he will most likely be redshirting at Michigan. With three full years to get ready for college ball, I think he could be back in decent form. Not only is this better for him because it gives him a much better chance at success both in the classroom and on the court, but it's also good for Michigan.
First, it's good for Michigan because they aren't going to be forced to use up a scholarship on a player that is probably unprepared for college both on and off the court. Scholarships are always tight for basketball so utilizing each one effectively is huge for the program. There is no way that Austin would have been ready to compete in 2013-2014. However, with this delay and a probable redshirt, he will probably be ready by time the 2015 season rolls around. This is important because instead of having a player on the roster forced to redshirt and limited in productivity for a few years, Michigan will have a player with plenty of time to re-cooperate from unfortunate events.
Along with this gain, Michigan can now readjust its recruiting plans for the future. Instead of 4 commits for the 2013 class, Michigan now has 3. However, Michigan also has its first commit for the 2014 class. For most, this makes little difference, but it could actually be pretty important. Instead of taking a 2*-3* recruit in 2013, Michigan has the chance to add one or two more with even higher rankings. Plus, if Austin improves as many believe he can, his ratings could rise quite a bit by time he signs for the 2014 season. This means that not only will Michigan be using its players more effectively, but they could also be getting a recruiting boost because of this decision for 2013 and 2014.
Overall, this is the best case scenario for just about everyone involved. Austin is going to be benefited at both the high school and college level in terms of academics and athletics. Michigan is going to benefit from a better prepared player both in the classroom and on the court, and could likely get a recruiting boost for the next few recruiting classes. This isn't going to be something that changes the program or something long-term, but it is defintely a positive thing to report. Best of luck to Austin in his recovery and thanks to the IHSAA for a good decision.