The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel has an informative in-depth piece out detailing "Austin Hatch's long road back to the basketball court." It makes it clear that Hatch is much further along in his recovery than previously known. In fact, he played in a charity 3-on-3 tournament in May, and he was cleared medically to return to actual game action for his high school team last season. But he chose not to return to the floor, with his reasoning revealing the high level of his character:
“It was down to about the last three weeks of the season and he was at the point where we felt he was capable of doing some things to help us,” [Canterbury boys basketball coach Scott] Kreiger said. “We thought if we are going to deal with the crush that is really going to come when people find out he's going to play again, we'd probably better do it now than to wait until closer to the tournament when it had the potential to be a distraction.”
Kreiger and his coaches thought the best time for Hatch's return would be at home against Bishop Luers in early February.
They sat down with Hatch to talk to him about the plans to put him back on the court.
“As soon as he realized what was going on, he spoke up and said, 'I appreciate what everybody's doing, but I'm not ready to play,'” Kreiger said. “We were dumbfounded. Here it is, his goal since he came out of the coma to get back on the court, and he's the one who says, 'I'm not ready.'”
Then Kreiger listened to Hatch's reasoning.
The coach was reminded what a unique young man sat in front of him.
“He said, 'I'm not ready to play because I'm not good enough,'” Kreiger said. “'If I went out there right now, I'm not any better than the guys that are out there, guys who've been out there all year. If I'm not good enough to go out there and win that spot, I don't belong out there.'
“You might say that's a pride thing,” Kreiger said. “That's an Austin thing. He's not going to take someone else's spot who has earned that spot just because 'I'm Austin Hatch.'”
Whether or not he regains his previous level of play, Austin Hatch will certainly be a credit to the Michigan basketball program. Good to luck to him this season as he returns to game action. He has tons of people rooting for him:
Before Hatch moved to Los Angeles this summer, he stopped by to talk to Kreiger and pulled out his phone to show Kreiger a video.
The video was of Hatch dunking at Spiece Fieldhouse.
“He said, 'I can't imagine how good it's going to feel to get those first points (in an official game),'” Kreiger said. “I told him, 'I can't imagine, either, but I bet there's going to be a whole lot of people who feel just about as good as you do when it happens.'”