While everyone saw the Vermont Catamounts at their finest moment, sinking treys from the parking lot to knock Syracuse out in the first round of the NCAA tournament this past March, there was a point in his career where Sarnia, Ontario’s David Hehn wasn’t sure if he was going to be a part of the Catamounts’ rise to prominence.
“My first three months here, I hated it. I didn’t even unpack my bags,” the now departing senior says. “I didn’t really give it a chance, but I came back from Christmas break with a different attitude and I’m probably the luckiest kid in the world now, to be on the team that I’ve been on at a school that’s allowed me to accomplish all my dreams and goals.”
Adaptability is a big part of Hehn’s game. The 6-5 guard didn’t put up huge numbers in his years at Vermont, but he earned his starting job by doing the little things – all of them. “When people ask me to describe what I do, I just say I’m a basketball player,” is what he says of his contributions.
Hehn has covered every inch of the court in his four years with the Catamounts. As a freshman he was a role player who came off the bench. He then filled in at the point in his sophomore year, and made Catamount history when he hit a baseline jumper with 5.6 seconds left to beat Boston University 56–55. The win gave Vermont its first birth in the NCAA tournament. Hehn has also been the team’s utility man, regularly putting the clamps on the oppositions’ best player. The most notable of these performances came in their first round meeting with UCONN last year, when Hehn held the Huskies’ Ben Gordon to a 5–17 shooting performance, which included him going 0–5 on three-point shots. For Hehn, it was just another day on the job “I just try to do whatever the team needs to win games,” he comments.
Hehn says that the hype that their upset over Syracuse generated nationally for the Catamounts was on par with what the vibe has been locally for the team from the get go. “It’s not like any other program, probably in the country,” he says. “It’s really special here. It’s something that I wish everyone could get a chance to get a feel for and see what goes on. It’s really an unbelievable atmosphere.” The atmosphere got no more official than when Jim Douglas, the Governor of Vermont, started talking to the team down the season’s stretch. “The governor’s a fan of ours, we’ve met him a bunch of times,” Hehn says nonchalantly. “He comes in the locker room after big wins.”
Although he leaves Vermont as the all-time leader in games played, and has his name in the top ten in Catamount steals, assists and three-point field goals, an assortment of back injuries have taken its toll on Hehn, all of which have brought his competitive basketball career to an end. While there are images of Hehn balling on provincial squads for Ontario, his high school days will have to suffice for those who had hoped to see him represent Canada on the court. However, he’s optimistic about the future of Canadian Basketball. “Playing all over America, basketball’s still on another level, but Canada’s definitely coming up,” he says. “It seems like every year more and more players are going to (top) schools and succeeding. I think Canada Basketball’s doing a great job and the grass roots of things are increasing the level of basketball and making kids want to play.”