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Aidan Hadaway (10) Foward position on Ohio Univeristy's Basketball Team celebrates after a reverse dunk at The Convo, in Athens, Ohio on Jan. 20, 2024.

Men's Basketball: Aidan Hadaway goes for career high 20 points in Ohio's win

A season ago, Ohio forward Aidan Hadaway was the other freshman in the same class as All-MAC freshmen AJ Brown and Elmore James; now Hadaway has emerged as one of Ohio's most significant starters in his own right. Hadaway, who has seen his minutes greatly increase since Brown went down with a season-ending injury, led Ohio in scoring in the team's 85-67 win with a career-high 20 points.

Hadaway put some of his best skills on display early in Ohio's win; he scored or assisted on seven of the team's first 13 points and ended the first half with 11 points. Hadaway made two three-point jumpers in the first half, contributing to Ohio matching its highest scoring mark in a half in MAC play with 46 points.

Hadaway contributed to Ohio having the game virtually won with eight minutes to go. After making a pair of layups to start the game, Hadaway hit his third three-point jumper of the game to put Ohio up 29. Hadaway then had one of Ohio's most exciting buckets of the season off of a rebound and perfect pass from Miles Brown. Hadaway took a couple of steps, jumped up and twisted his body to make a highlight-reel reverse dunk.

While Hadaway had attempted and succeeded at the dunk earlier in the season he believed he perfected it against Eastern Michigan.

"I did it in Cleveland, and it wasn't really clean, so I was like, 'Yeah, I got to do this and make it a clean one,'" Hadaway said. "I did and the crowd got hyped, it was cool."

Not only did Hadaway finish the game with 20 points, but he did so very efficiently, making eight of his 10 shots from the field, including making all three attempts from beyond the arc. Since being introduced as a starter against Defiance, Hadaway has averaged 9.1 points a game. However, in his most recent three games, Hadaway has taken his scoring to an unforeseen level, averaging nearly 15 points per game.

According to Ohio coach Jeff Boals, part of the explanation for Hadaway's massive growth in production and confidence.

"I think the biggest thing with Aidan is he's more confident, he's comfortable right now with what he's doing," Boals said. "I think he's going to continue to get better throughout the rest of the season."

Being a starter in just his sophomore season certainly will help any player's confidence, and while AJ Brown's injury opened a spot in the lineup, Hadaway earned the minutes. In the three games leading up to his first start, Hadaway averaged nearly nine points a game including an outing against Youngstown State dropped his previous career high of 14 points.

Even though dunks like those made by Hadaway will create a reputation for scoring, his size and length provide an element to Ohio's lineup that the team has been desperately searching for. A lineup that previously featured four starters at 6 foot, 4 inch or shorter now has the 6 foot, 8 inch Hadaway starting alongside center AJ Clayton.

Boals emphasized how Hadaway's growth as a player makes the team more dynamic but also provides the coach with pride.

"He can score inside, he can score outside, defensively he has started to pick it up, not being reactive," Boals said. "I'm just really proud of him because he works hard. He watches the film and now we're starting to reap the benefits."


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