By Allen Moff | Staff writer
Like virtually every other "mid-major" program in the country attempting to compete with the nation's elite, Kent State's athletic department has taken some flyers on athletes and even coaches with checkered pasts.
The Golden Flashes' track record on granting these second-chances is actually quite impressive, which is one reason they've decided to accept another project in Jimmy Hall.
Hall has joined the Kent State men's basketball program as a transfer from the Hofstra University, where he lasted just seven games before getting kicked out of school following an arrest on burglary charges. He must sit out the 2013-14 season, then will have three years of eligibility remaining.
Flashes head coach Rob Senderoff and his support staff hope Hall will some day join the likes of Antonio Gates, Tyree Evans and Abram Elam as athletes who made the most of the second chances they were awarded by KSU -- along with Senderoff himself.
Gates (Michigan State), Evans (Kansas State, Maryland) and Elam (Notre Dame) all had issues with academics and/or arrests at previous schools before enrolling at Kent State, and wound up enjoying tremendous success during and after their days as Golden Flashes. Senderoff himself was once wondering if he'd ever find employment in college basketball again when he resigned from his position as assistant coach at Indiana in 2007 after he was found to have made several impermissible phone calls to recruits while working for head coach Kelvin Sampson, who was later fired.
"We've had a number of cases over the course of the last 15 years here where our programs have taken some kids who have had some baggage at other institutions, and almost to a man they've done very very well here academically, socially and athletically," said Senderoff. "You can include me in that list as well."
Hall, a 6-foot-7 forward from Brooklyn, was averaging 12.7 points and a team-leading 9.4 rebounds per game when he was arrested along with Hofstra teammates Shaquille Stokes, Dallas Anglin and Kentrell Washington in late November of 2012 on felony burglary charges stemming from dormitory room break-ins. The players were charged in six burglaries that occurred between Oct. 4 and Nov. 5, and were suspected in many others starting at the beginning of the semester. The thefts included laptop computers, IPads, IPhones and cash.
The arrests were huge news in the media mecca of New York, and the players were raked over the proverbial coals in the newspapers and on television for months afterward.
"His issues were well-chronicled," said Senderoff.
The felony charges were eventually reduced to a misdemeanor, paving the way for Hall to seek a transfer that led him to Kent State.
"Our entire department did a lot of research on Jimmy and his background and his family, and felt like he was deserving of a second chance here at Kent," said Senderoff. "We're expecting him to make the most of that opportunity."
Hall will receive the scholarship that became available after Bryson Pope left the KSU program. Pope, who averaged 4.8 points and 3.6 rebounds off the bench at the forward and guard spots last season, would have been academically ineligible for the current fall semester. Senderoff is now helping Pope - a French citizen - find a professional team in France, where his older brother and father once played.
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