CLEVELAND -- In the moments following the Kent State Golden Flashes’ 70-65 victory over the Akron Zips in the Mid-American Conference Championship Game, senior center Jimmy Hall broke away from the on-court celebration with his teammates because there was someone else with whom he wanted to share the moment.
Hall navigated through the crowd of revelers, went toward the stands and embraced his mother, Noreen, where the two exchanged tears of joy and celebratory words after the realization of four years’ worth of dreams and hard work for the Brooklyn, New York native.
“Everything just came out,” Hall said. “I just want to thank her so much for having me and raising me and believing in me and everything.
“I can't even describe it. It's been a great journey, I'm blessed to be in this position. All my emotions just went when I see my mom and how much she cares for me and how much she comes out to every game, and her little scouting reports she’s (been) sending me.”
Kent State Golden Flashes win Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship
The journey to the MAC Championship was four years in the making for Hall, but nearly after a decade of waiting for the Golden Flashes, who last played in the NCAA Tournament following the 2008 MAC Tournament.
In leading the Golden Flashes to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in nine years, Hall scored 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to go along with three assists and three blocked shots in his final battle against the Zips (26-8).
Despite battling through foul trouble for much of the first half against Akron, Hall was able to contribute at a pace worthy enough to be named to the All-MAC Tournament Team.
“You want him to play as many minutes as he can,” Kent State coach Rob Senderoff said of Hall. “When he got his second foul, I think that was about the 12-minute mark. The fact that we had the lead allowed me to take him out and sort of feel confident of, ‘Okay, we can maybe hold on a little bit here and get him back in and get him out again.’
“We were able to keep the lead going into halftime, which again, he only played 12 minutes in the first half. He's normally going to play 17 minutes in the first half, so that I thought was important.”
Hall registered the double-double against the 2017 MAC Player of the Year, Akron’s Isaiah Johnson, with whom he has battled against for all four of his seasons at Kent State.
“The mindset was just to battle,” Hall said. “I knew it was going to be a battle. He's a great player, and I just feel like I've got a lot of pride in myself and what I do, and I just wanted it. I knew it was going to be a battle.
“It was mano-y-mano and see who comes out on top, and like how I feel, you know, I could keep playing. The adrenaline is still in me, so we could keep going if need be.”