A coaching change has led former Fremont High School standout Mitchell Hahn to alter his collegiate basketball path.
Hahn confirmed Thursday night that he is transferring from Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., to the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The 6-foot-8 forward appeared in 23 games last season as the Crusaders finished 14-16.
One day after Bucknell beat Holy Cross 90-83 in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals, Crusaders' director of athletics Nate Pine fired head coach Milan Brown.
"Our head coach got fired and with that two assistants got fired as well," Hahn said in a phone interview. "I was really close to them. Since they were no longer with the team, I decided it would be best for me if I transferred closer to home."
One of the assistants, Kevin Robinson, had recruited Hahn. The Crusaders finished 12-18 in 2012-13, but improved to 20-14 in 2013-14. Last season, however, they slipped to 14-16 and finished eighth in the Patriot League.
"It was kind of a shock to everyone," Hahn said about the firings. "We had all been recruited by Coach Brown so we were all sad and upset. It was hard on everyone."
The coaching change caused Hahn to contemplate his future. He contacted Thomas Viglianco, who helped train him during his final two years of high school, that he was interested in transferring.
"He has been my trainer and kind of my mentor through everything," Hahn said. "I told him to look for schools closer to home. He called UNO and they were interested. They became my top choice because I had a good relationship with some of the coaches there."
Former Midland University guard Tyler Erwin, now an assistant for Derrin Hansen at UNO, was one of the coaches involved.
"He talked to me throughout the process," Hahn said. "I knew him from the high school recruiting. We kind of picked up where we left off."
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Prior to Brown's dismissal, Hahn had already planned on returning to Fremont the Monday before Easter to see his family. He visited UNO on March 31 and went back to Worcester earlier this week. He told UNO officials of his decision Thursday.
"It is difficult leaving the relationships I made with the people here at Holy Cross," Hahn said. "That is the toughest thing, but it is definitely nice to know where I am headed with UNO."
Hahn was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week for Dec. 1-7. That week he scored 22 points, including six of six 3-point shots during a 74-57 win over Albany. Later in the season, he scored 18 points in a 72-70 overtime loss to Army.
For the season, he hit 34 of 76 shots from the field (45 percent) and 21 of 27 free throws (78 percent). He averaged 2.2 rebounds per game.
"It was a great experience this season," Hahn said. "I learned a lot about competing at the (NCAA) Division I level. There is a lot of hard work that you have to put in that is unseen. People don't realize the extra hours you put in at the gym, the long practices and the road trips. It was a real good year for me learning-wise through Coach Brown and his staff. I learned a lot from them and the leaders on our team."
Hahn plans on utilizing what he learned with the Crusaders as he moves on to the Mavericks. He will have to sit out next season as a redshirt.
"It will be tough sitting out the whole year, but as the same time I can use it to get a lot stronger and get accustomed to the school," he said. "It should be helpful moving into the final three years of (competition). I'll be much stronger and ready to play."
Hahn has already talked with some of his future teammates, including former Omaha Central standout Tre'Shawn Thurman, about their plans for the Mavericks.
"We've talked that our goal is to win Summit League championships and hopefully make some noise in the tournament," he said. "We're going to go after that."