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TMC's Dean Hadley: Finding the right fit

The Master’s College senior Dean Hadley is finally at home with Mustangs

Posted: March 3, 2010 10:27 p.m.
Updated: March 4, 2010 4:55 a.m.

The Master's College senior forward Dean Hadley will try to lead the Mustangs on a deep run in the Golden State Athletic Conference's tournament when TMC's postseason kicks off tonight at Azusa Pacific University.

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The Master's College senior forward Dean Hadley has one goal for tonight's game against Azusa Pacific University in the first round of the Golden State Athletic Tournament.

It's just not what one might think.

"If we all just go out and play hard, if we all play hard together, I don't think the result would even matter to me - win or lose," Hadley says. "I still feel like we've accomplished something this year."

He's not trying to take pressure off himself as a team leader who's averaging a team-high 14.5 points and 1.6 steals, and contributing 5.5 rebounds.

It's just that he's played on enough teams to appreciate the bond his squad has already achieved.

Right now, he's happy to be a part of it.

And more importantly to Hadley, he's finally having fun doing it.

He's found the right fit at TMC, something he looked for all over the country.

Hadley, originally from Culver City, played at Culver City High before spending the rest of his high school career at Piney Woods, an all-black boarding school in rural Mississippi.

After graduation, he was the No. 16 player in the state according to MagnoliaPreps.com, a regional prep sports Web site.

He was recruited by Drexel and several other mid-major conference programs before ending up at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He didn't last a year, and he played in four games before he left injured and homesick after the 2005-06 season.

"It was a good (experience), but Indiana wasn't somewhere where I really wanted to be at," Hadley says. "It was just so far from home."

Hadley says he still ended up pretty far from West Los Angeles, though, playing his next season at Holmes Community College in Goodman, Miss., due to relationships he developed in the area.

When he looked to head back west, he was eventually put in contact with TMC head coach Chuck Martin, who had heard about Hadley from coaching contacts.

"It's a funny story. I just got a call one day about a juco kid out of Mississippi," Martin says.

"I worked him out over the summer and he said, ‘Coach, I like it here,' and said he was coming, ‘But I have to go to a combine down in Fullerton.'"

Martin immediately recognized Hadley's talent, and knew what would probably happen if he went and played at the community college showcase.

Given a chance to shine, Hadley starred at the event, drawing attention from all over.

Martin's worries were realized when he learned Hadley would be heading to the University of San Francisco, to play for future hall of fame basketball coach Eddie Sutton.

Unfortunately for Hadley, it was a program in flux.

There were highlights from Hadley's time there.

Martin remembers joking around with Hadley in his office recently, while they watched a tape of Hadley playing against Gonzaga.

Yet while the senior is a business major, he became disillusioned with that aspect of big-time basketball.

When politics and conditions beyond Hadley's control eventually led to Sutton's exit, Hadley felt disconnected and remembered his workout with Martin.

"There were good memories, but there was a lot going on in the basketball program, issues before I went there," Hadley says. "It was fun to play in the West Coast Conference at Gonzaga or St. Mary's. But I think the Lord just kind of called me to Master's. I just wanted to win, I wanted to have fun. Throughout my college career, I felt like I didn't experience as much fun as I should have.

"(TMC's) coaching staff is really easy guys to trust and play for, and it came home pretty quick."

When he arrived at TMC, Hadley petitioned the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics to get another season of eligibility given what happened at IUPUI, and it was granted.

While Hadley now leads on both sides of the ball for TMC, Martin says Hadley's athleticism makes a big impact defensively.

"In a perimeter-player dominated league, it is no question that's his greatest strength," Martin says. "You can't compete in this league without an athlete of Dean's stature."

It's been kind of a perfect fit for both coach and player.

"If you really watch the GSAC, the kids that get into the GSAC, it's kind of a second chance," Martin says.

Hadley just wants to make sure that this time, he's making the most of it.

He's been on squads, he says, where turmoil and a lack of leadership have destroyed morale and ended seasons early.

"But just to be in a big game, where everybody plays hard and everybody gives themselves for the next man and their teammates, I value that," Hadley says.

It's the feeling he gets when he suits up as a Mustang.

"Each year coming back the last two years, it was really easy to play hard," Hadley says. "I never really had to psyche myself up to play hard."

It shouldn't be a problem for the Mustangs at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Azusa, either.


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