Collin Hartman attempted to do something on Friday night against Indiana State that we believe is an Indiana Hoosier basketball first — returning to play for IU after giving a senior night speech at Assembly Hall. Instead, he missed the game with a groin injury, thereby perfectly illustrating the dramatic twists and turns of his IU career. And why shouldn’t he follow an unusual path — it has been that way for some time now.
Collin Hartman didn’t grow up an IU fan. He lived in football crazed Nebraska in his early years, hundreds of miles from Indiana and its basketball hysteria. But he wasn’t completely unaware either. His mother, Melissa Compton, was a former Indiana All-Star at Rushville who played in college at both Butler and then Nebraska. So certainly Collin was raised to appreciate basketball and was aware of the special relationship that we Hoosiers have with the game.
Early National Recognition
Collin’s family moved to Indianapolis when he was in elementary school and from there the Hoosier Hysteria indoctrination would be completed. As a freshman at Cathedral High School, Hartman was the star of the team — and Cathedral was a well known program. Accordingly, people started to take notice — so much so that Hartman was ranked as a top-25 prospect by ESPN. Not bad for a Nebraska kid.
An Early IU Commitment — And Early Ups and Downs
Hartman committed to play at Indiana early on during his sophomore year. He was so sure of his decision that he asked his mother to turn the car around on the way home from a recruiting visit — and return to Bloomington to inform the coaches of his decision. This was back in 2010, when IU was still recovering from the Kelvin Sampson debacle. Collin would later say that he wanted to be part of “bringing IU back”. Given his national prominence, gaining Hartman’s commitment was a big coup at the time. Couple that with additional commitments from Devin Davis, Cody Zeller and Yogi Ferrell right around the same time — and it was becoming clear that Hartman would be part of bringing IU back. But what role would he play?
After the buzz of the commitment things started to change. While still a key player at Cathedral, other talented players joined the Irish, including future Illinois and DePaul player Jalen Coleman-Lands. Hartman continued to play at a high level but his national profile nevertheless began to slip. Moreover, the Indiana 2013 recruiting class grew in both size and prominence. Ultimately, it would be a Top 10 ranked six-man class including the likes of NBA bound stars Troy WIlliams and Noah Vonleh.
Hartman was the lowest-rated member of the group according to ESPN and 247Sports. With scholarships in short supply, Indiana fans quietly and not so quietly began to wonder if this kid was just taking up a spot. Never daunted, Hartman would focus on the job at hand, overcome a broken wrist, and lead Cathedral to a state championship game appearance. Like his mother, he was also an Indiana All Star.
Freshman Year at Indiana
Hartman had a limited role his freshman year at IU. It was probably enough to confirm the doubts in the minds of some of his critics. To make matters worse, he tore his ACL as a freshman during a spring workout after the season had ended. That would be the end, right? Hartman would later admit that he had second thoughts about whether he would last at IU.
Sophomore and Junior Years
It was during Hartman’s sophomore year that he erased the doubts and became appreciated by the masses. He was a “glue guy” that always seemed to be in the right place and finding ways to contribute — chasing down lose balls, deflecting passes, diving on the floor — whatever it took. He would play just about every position on the team except point guard that year — even playing center at times. He would finish second in the B1G in 3 point field goal percentage.
He started 24 games as a junior as a critical component to a Big Ten championship team. Again he did just a little bit of everything — assists, rebounds, 3 pointers — whatever the team needed. By this time he was firmly entrenched as a fan favorite, an Indiana kid, someone that Hoosier fans could relate to. That Nebraska thing was his little secret.
Hartman’s junior year didn’t end exactly as planned — as he had to play through another broken wrist during a March run that saw the Hoosiers advance to the Sweet 16. And then there was yet another knee injury last September. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Hartman had finally overcome all of the injuries and doubts, and he would help lead a highly regarded team for his Senior year. It wasn’t to be. Not for him or his team. The knee injury wiped out his entire season and was the first of a couple key injuries that ultimately played a role in the team’s highly disappointing 2016-17 campaign.
From Top 25 recruit to unheralded and perhaps unwanted 3 star, and finally to respected elder statesman. From B1G champion to NIT humiliation. Three major injuries, one fired head coach. Maybe the first player in IU history to have two senior nights, plus an on-court marriage proposal. What does Senior year 2.0 hold for Collin Hartman? We don’t know, but it sure wouldn’t surprise us if there were a couple more bumps along the way.
Main photo credit – iuhoosiers.com