J’Vonne Hadley’s distinctive basketball journey gave him a couple of knowledgeable references to call upon while mulling an offer from the University of Colorado.
As a native of St. Paul, Minn., Hadley reached out to another Twin Cities native in three-time first team All-Pac-12 point guard McKinley Wright IV, CU’s all-time leader in assists. Hadley also bent the ear of Wright’s one-time backcourt mate Shane Gatling, who, like Hadley, played one season of Division I basketball in the northeast before landing at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa.
If there are cracks beneath the façades of seemingly successful programs, they don’t tend to escape scrutiny in those types of conversations. Whatever slight skepticism Hadley still may have harbored toward joining the Buffs ended after chatting with Wright and Gatling.
This week, the 6-foot-6 Hadley became the newest piece of coach Tad Boyle’s roster, adding front court depth and some rebounding prowess to a team still awaiting the final pro decision of forward Jabari Walker.
“They both said the same thing that it’s a cool place to be, a cool place to play, and the coaching staff is great,” Hadley said. “They said they do everything that can benefit you, as well as the team. I’m super big on that on bettering myself overall, getting in the gym and working on my agility and lateral quickness and stuff like that. They said it’s a cool place to be, a cool college town. They didn’t really have many negatives, honestly. It really made the choice easy.”
Hadley had never set foot in Colorado before visiting CU a few weeks ago, but the opportunity to continue his career in the Pac-12 evolved into an offer he couldn’t refuse. Hadley averaged 10.9 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting .548 from the floor at Indian Hills this past season, but it was his finishing surge that ultimately won over Boyle and associate head coach Mike Rohn, who took the lead in recruiting Hadley.
Over the final 14 games, Hadley shot a robust .628 while averaging 17.5 points and 8.1 rebounds. He posted a season 3-point mark of .354 but shot .406 from the arc (13-for-32) over those final 14 games.
“He checked a lot of the boxes,” Boyle said. “I think it reiterates how important relationships are in recruiting. We’ve had a great relationship with Indian Hills and their coaching staff. (Hadley) is a guy we’ve known about most of the season. It was the right place at the right time, for him and for us.”
Hadley said he is scheduled to arrive in Boulder on May 30. Shortly thereafter he will go through the requisite medical checks and tests before beginning summer workouts with his new CU teammates.
“I trust coach Boyle. I trust what he’s doing there as a program,” Hadley said. “I love the style they play at, the speed. Playing at altitude every day, that will whip you into shape fast. They play fast. They play smart. They play together. They play a team game for sure.
“I feel like I bring a lot of high energy. I like to be that high-energy guy to lift my teammates up. I like to clap, cheer, and be that guy in practice. I take pride in that stuff. Not everybody in the basketball world gets the opportunity that I just got blessed with, so I want to take advantage of that. I can play a little bigger than my size and I think I can guard threes, guard fours. Rebounding is a big piece of that too that hopefully I can bring to the table.”