It was at that moment, in the presence of the current St. John’s head coach and one of the greatest players in program history, that Hatten realized he wanted to get into coaching, specifically with the Red Storm.
“I saw Coach Mullin and I was like, ‘Man, I sure could be an asset to you,’” recalled the fellow St. John’s great who earned First-Team All-Big East Honors in his only two seasons of Division-I college ball, from 2001-2003.
Now, Hatten, who has played professionally for 15 years, says that he’s preparing for retirement at the end of his current season. He’s looking forward to the completion of his bachelor’s degree in communications next spring, and a career in coaching, which he plans to embark on soon.
His goal is being an assistant at St. John’s, and one day, a head college coach.
Hatten’s desire to remain in the game derives from an appetite to enlighten young basketball players on a number of essentials; namely, the business of basketball.
“When I was in college, I didn’t have that understanding about what it took to become a professional athlete, to have a professional mindset,” Hatten admitted. “All I knew was playing basketball.
“Especially with the game is now, it’s more of a business – a lot of kids fail because they don’t understand that part,” he added. “I don’t want them to do like I did and wait until the experiences happen as a professional.”
Since recording over 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals per game in two seasons at St. John’s, the former Haggerty Award winner has since played professionally in Israel, Venezuela, Italy, Romania and now Germany, among other stops.
He’s also raised his involvement with younger basketball players in the off-season, participating in basketball clinics and working out with standout up-and-comers in his home city of Baltimore.
Hatten says he’s even been offered to coach an AAU team in Baltimore by Bill Barton, the current head coach at South Kent School in Connecticut and a former assistant at the University of Pittsburgh, and Marshall.
While the Johnnie does want to be a coach one day, he says that a “player assistant” title to get his foot in the door would be an ideal starting point.
“It’s not like at this point I want to straight up and coach right now.If I do get on a staff I want to be a player assistant,” he said. “When I was playing three or four years ago, I always knew I had the ability to change the game as a player. Now when I watch, I see how to utilize others to their strengths as much as possible, almost like a player coach.”
“I love teaching the game now. As I got older I found myself teaching kids more aspects of the game,” he added. “I fell in love with it because I had great coaches and my dad was really good at these things. When I was playing my whole focus was to become a professional basketball player. But as I’ve gotten older, things changed.”
Sometime in May, Hatten will return to St. John’s to meet with the dean and organize the final steps to get his degree. The 6-foot-1 guard says he’s maintained a good relationship with people at the university, and even returned stateside in the winter to watch the Red Storm play Georgetown.
In his mind, the current coaching staff of Mullin, Mitch Richmond, Matt Abdelmassih and Greg St. Jean are doing, “a great job of getting the best out of the kids.” But Hatten wants to help establish the Baltimore recruiting pipeline into the basketball program.
Having worked with many of the city’s best basketball players throughout summers before they’re off to college, the former NIT MVP wants to drive some of the talent to Queens.
“There’s so much talent in Baltimore, man, especially now,” he said. “I train and see these kids, and I’ll have a lot more this summer. A lot of kids that are up and coming now are highly recruited. They’re sophomores that are going to be juniors this year. But then there are a lot of kids who haven’t really been discovered that I feel that St. John’s could use to start that winning process.
“When I train kids in the summer I put a lot of it on social media. So you’ll be hearing about these kids,” he added. “Their parents want me to train them and they reach out to me – I’m excited because soon I’ll be home training – those ambitious and aspirations got my adrenaline pumping.”
Hatten’s honed in on the thought of being involved at St. John’s, but doesn’t rule out an opportunity to coach elsewhere.
“It just has to make sense,” he said.
Regarding his actual retirement, Hatten called 15 years of being able to play basketball professionally “a true blessing.”
“I gave the game everything I could,” he said. “I enjoyed it. I accomplished what I dreamt out for, being a professional basketball player for 15 years. Not many people have 15 years in their career – it was a great journey, and I don’t regret anything. Now, I have two sons of my own who I can’t wait to spend time with.”