For the first time in over a decade, a former Northwestern basketball player has scored points in the NBA.
Reggie Hearn, who signed a two-way contract with the Detroit Pistons three weeks ago, made his NBA debut on Monday night, playing the final 2:33 of a blowout win over Portland. He made his only shot attempt, a confidently-taken corner three.
Reggie Hearn's first career shot, first career basket! pic.twitter.com/ZI15BrZWAy— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 6, 2018
After the game, recently-acquired Pistons star Blake Griffin made sure Hearn got the game ball.
Reggie Hearn getting the game ball after scoring his first @NBA points. #DetroitBasketball pic.twitter.com/AkuhXORUVq— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) February 6, 2018
Needless to say, this is an awesome accomplishment for Hearn, whose journey to the NBA has been anything but easy. With no D-I offers out of high school in Fort Wayne, IN, Hearn joined Northwestern as a walk-on in 2009. By his senior season in 2012-13, he was not only on scholarship, he was the Wildcats’ leading scorer.
Hearn spent the next four seasons playing in the NBA D-League (now called the G-League), establishing himself as one of the best three-point shooters at that level. In his fifth year as a pro, he was once again playing a big role for the Reno Bighorns in the G-League before signing a two-way contract with Detroit.
What that means is that over the past three weeks, Hearn has rotated between suiting up for the Pistons and playing big minutes for the Grand Rapids Drive, Detroit’s G-League affiliate. On Monday, he finally got his chance to get in an NBA game.
Hearn’s 3 career points might not seem like much, but he is now the first former Northwestern basketball player to score in the NBA in over 13 years. Geno Carlisle was the last to do so when he scored for Portland in December 2004.
Carlisle played just two seasons for Northwestern (1994-96) before transferring to Cal. The last Northwestern graduate to score in the NBA was Evan Eschmeyer in May 2003 (in the playoffs!), nearly 15 years ago.
Since neither Carlisle or Eschmeyer hit a three-pointer in their careers, as far as I can tell the last former Wildcat to make an NBA triple was Billy McKinney in January 1981.
UPDATE: Multiple people have pointed out that Rex Walters, who played for NU for two years like Carlisle before transferring to Kansas, hit many threes over a 7-year NBA career in the ‘90s. McKinney is the last graduate to hit an NBA three before Hearn.
Long story short, that seemingly inconsequential shot by Hearn ended a lot of long droughts for Northwestern. We hope this is just the start of Hearn’s NBA career, but regardless, he has achieved something very few other Wildcats ever have.