To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Nolan Hagerty ’22: the selfless center

Basketball has been a major part of Nolan Hagerty’s ’22 life for almost two decades now; “my dad is a coach, he coaches basketball and football back home, so he encouraged all the kids in my family to play a sport,” Hagerty told The Brandeis Hoot in an interview. Hagerty chose basketball.

“I started playing in kindergarten, when I was around four or five years old,” he stated, and it has been a constant presence in his life since. Yet, he didn’t plan on playing basketball in college until his freshman year of high school; “at that point I understood that this was one of my best paths to college,” he noted.

“Basketball is a big part of the reason why I came to Brandeis,” however, strong academics was another integral part of what he was looking for in a school. “Brandeis’ psychology program is one of the best in New England as I was planning for graduate school and my future career, that was important for me,” said Hagerty. An additional benefit of Brandeis was that it is only two hours away from home which “means that [his] parents are able to come to all the games.” 


Hagerty’s career at Brandeis has been a long journey, full of improvement, friendship and laughter. “As a freshman, I did not get to play for too long … maybe eight to ten minutes per game,” Hagerty told The Hoot, noting that this is the case for most first-years. “It was largely about getting used to the speed of the game as well as the new team and coach.” 


From the very beginning, Hagerty showed promise in his career. He played in all 29 games of the season, for a total of 297 minutes. In that time, he scored 48 points and got 79 rebounds, more than any other first year on the team. He also averaged 6.5 points per 40 minutes played and made 60 percent of field goals attempted. The Judges finished with a 18-11 record in that season.

Jesse Lieberman ’22, who commentates on Brandeis Basketball games, told The Hoot that “Coach Bain, told [him] that Nolan [Hagerty] spent a lot of time improving his game in the off-season.” “The work he put in paid off,” added Lieberman.


His sophomore year, Hagerty started being trusted more with the ball; “Nolan got a lot better so we gave him the ball a lot more,” said teammate Collin Sawyer ’20 MA ’22. “I started playing center and playing with these great guys,” Hagerty told The Hoot, and that was when his career really took off.  His improvement was evident: he played in all 25 games of the season, starting 23 of them, for a total of 608 minutes.


In that time, he was able to get 171 rebounds and score 211 points. However, scoring was not Hagerty’s main objective: “we had many great shooters on the team, so I focused more on passing the ball to them.” He notes that unless he was presented with a good opportunity to score, he opted to pass the ball. Hagerty is “really really skilled for a big man, [and a] really good passer,” added Sawyer. Lieberman agreed, describing Hagerty as an “incredible passer, which is something not usually seen from a center. He has a tremendous understanding of where his teammates will be. He is always willing to pass up a shot if it meant a teammate got a better look.”


Despite scoring not being his primary goal, Hagerty still managed to average 8.4 points per game and 13.9 points per 40 minutes played. The team finished the season with 17-8 overall, 9-5 in the University Athletic Association (UAA).


The coronavirus pandemic interrupted Hagerty’s career as there were only practices and no actual games. As “there weren’t sky cameras in Rome, there weren’t any games for us to play,” said Hagerty.

“Senior year was full of ups and downs,” continued Hagerty, but overall “it was a disappointing year.” The team went 41 days with no games which was not great for rhythm. “We went home for break, which usually we get a week and then we are back to practice, but this year we got shut down after one practice,” because of COVID-19 cases on the team. A similar pattern continued, as they kept having a few more practices then getting shut down again. “At that point we missed five games when we came back and were off to a slow season,” continued Hagerty. The season continued with mixed results, as the team went on to losing two games for every win they had. “By that point we lost too many games,” he told me. Overall, the team ended the season with a 15-9 record, 6-7 in the UAA.


Hagerty himself had his best season yet; he played in all 24 games, starting 22 of them, for a total of 540 minutes played. He scored 254 points and got 170 rebounds, improving to 10.6 points per game, and 18.8 points per 40 minutes played. Hagarty is the team’s third leading scorer. He ended the season with 59.3 percent field goals made. However, despite all of his improvement, he still continued to struggle when it came to free-throws, making only 52 percent during his career. In the words of Hagerty himself, just like you “can’t teach a horse to read braille, you cannot make me good at free-throws.” “Maybe I should have had pre-game rituals,” he joked. 

“Nolan’s [Hagerty’s] footwork improved over his career, especially this season. There were times this season where he used his strength to score, but he added a lot of skill moves in the post and was quite efficient with those moves as well,” added Lieberman.

Regarding his role on the team, Hagerty described himself as someone who is “directing traffic, trying to get [his teammates] clean shots.” “There were a lot of scorers on the team… Tommy [Eastman], Collin [Sawyer], Chandler [Jones], so I didn’t have to score as much,” he explained. It took off pressure to score during games, so he could focus on assisting his teammates.” To put it in the words of Jonah White ’22, another sports commentator, Hagerty “is one of the most generous big men in the game.”

Lieberman, continued to describe Hagerty as “as tough as they come. His style of play was extremely physical. He backed down from no one. He routinely had to guard opponent post players who were three to four inches taller than him. More often than not, he won the matchup.”


For his performance his senior year, Hagetry was named honorable mention in All-UAA, his first time being recognized. He had the most blocks and steals per game, with 1.1 and 1.0, respectively, and finished second in rebounds, with 7.1. 


Throughout his career at Brandeis, Hagerty scored 513 points, playing in all the games and starting more than half. He is first in all of Brandeis’ history in terms of career field-goals made, with 58.2 percent; his 61 blocked shots places him 10th at Brandeis. “I had good guys around me,” Hagerty humbly commented. 


“My favorite part of being on the team was definitely being a part of a great group of guys,” they are “a lot of fun to hang out and play with,” Hagerty told me. Though it is unclear whether they made up for having to run sprints, the worst part of being on the team, according to Hagerty. “I will definitely miss the guys the most… just hanging out in the locker room after games,” he continued, “and of course, winning games.” 


“I wish someone told me four years ago to start a better weight lifting program sooner; while playing inside, being bigger and stronger soon is very important,” explained Hagerty. He also wishes he focused more on recovery and doing more yoga. To first-years, he advises to “focus on school, get a lot of sleep, eat the right foods and, of course, recovery.” But alas, the ship is gone, as is Hagerty’s time on the Brandeis Basketball team. 


Despite basketball being a part of Hagerty’s life, he likes to think that there is more to him than just basketball. “Nolan [Hagerty] has always been on the surface a quieter kid but he’s very opinionated and I definitely consider him a smartass,” Sawyer told The Hoot. 


“Outside of basketball, I like to read and play chess,” said Hagerty, not surprising activities for a philosophy and psychology double major. “I also like nature and the woods,” he added. “He has a very unique personality,” said Sawyer, which is made evident by his interest in mythology and choice of Latin as a foreign language. Outside the court, Hagerty appeared to be a lot more lighthearted. 

Although he wants to do a clinical psychology or a clinical and forensic psychology doctoral program after graduation, Hagerty’s favorite classes at Brandeis were in the philosophy department. “I really enjoyed Symbolic Logic with Eyal Tal and The Meaning of Life and Why it Matters with Andreas Teuber … two classes on opposite sides of the spectrum,” he laughed. 


Overall, “I am thankful for my family for where I am and all the support,” continued Hagerty, “and of course my teammates.” He is also thankful “for the athletic trainers who worked tirelessly and were always there when we needed them.” Although he has another year of eligibility left, Hagerty is not sure if he will ever use it, but says nothing is off the table. “All I can say is, I am glad I played basketball,” Hagerty concluded. 


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