GEORGETOWN — If Happy Osborne had his way, Rodney Haddix and Matt Walls would have been playing for him all along.
Osborne recruited them hard, but signed neither.
But he is indeed Happy to have Haddix and Walls, as transfers, on his Georgetown College roster for this season.
"They really complement each other," Osborne said. "A fire-and-ice kind of thing."
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Both Haddix and Walls are hometown products, out of Scott County High School. (Haddix went away to a Nevada prep school for his senior season, though.)
Both are seniors, each listed at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds.
Rather than sign with Georgetown out of high school, both opted for NCAA Division I programs — Haddix to Miami (Ohio), Walls to Marshall.
Walls returned after one season. Haddix played three seasons before coming home.
Now, each are key wings on the undefeated (12-0) and second-ranked team in the NAIA.
Haddix starts, averaging 11.4 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Walls would start, but a series of nagging injuries have kept him in a reserve role, averaging 4.2 points and 3.1 rebounds.
Osborne says Walls hasn't completed a practice since before the season opener.
Wearing a thick wrap to protect his left knee and in the late stages of Wednesday's 102-62 win over Spalding, Walls nevertheless made a diving attempt to save a ball from going out of bounds. He paid the price, sliding into the wooden bleachers.
"That didn't feel good at all," said Walls, who also led the Tigers in assists with five. "You see an open teammate, you get them the ball. I could have had contested layups, but why try to get blocked when you can hand off to Rodney for a dunk and excite the crowd?"
Walls averaged 7.2 points and 2.7 rebounds in 22 games at Marshall.
"I was two hours away but, still, I was homesick," he said. "I've got a younger brother, a younger sister. I wanted to watch them grow up. You can't beat family."
In fact, Walls plans to follow in the footsteps of his father, Mark, and give coaching a try.
"My dad was a coach when I was born and he used to take the crib up to where he was coaching and have a basketball in there," he said. "It's in my blood."
Haddix averaged 5.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists for Miami last season, which included a game at Kentucky.
What brought him home?
"You've seen it tonight — the way we play, the atmosphere here," he said after the 40-point win over Spalding. "And, of course, it's home."
This was one day after his father, Rodney I, had suffered a mild stroke. Rodney II says his dad is recuperating well.
Both Walls and Haddix say they learned plenty at the Division I level.
"High school basketball, you can just run up and down the court, dribble and shoot, do whatever you want," Haddix said. "College basketball, sometimes it boils down to possessions and defense. So I became a better defender. I became a better player on offense — instead of just running and shooting, using ball screens and reading defenses. It just made me a better all-around player."
As much as he liked playing for Coach Charlie Coles, though, Haddix was curious to see how he would fare in the Georgetown system. Rather than operate from the perimeter, Osborne wants him to slash and "make plays."
"At Miami, we were about possessions. We kind of played a slower pace. We sat down and guarded the basketball and we took the smart shot," Haddix said. "Here, I'm not saying we don't take the smart shot, but we want to get after you, get up and down the court. We want to make plays. We want to wear the other team down and do like we did tonight — run somebody out of the gym."
Not unlike the style Billy Hicks coaches at Scott County. Just like the days when Haddix and Walls were 7-year-old teammates.
"That's my guy. I love Matt Walls to death," Haddix said. "He knows me and I know him, like the back of our hands."
Now, if Walls can only shed the injuries.
"He's had a good career," Osborne said. "I'd like to see him go out the way he went out in high school."
Walls had 12 points and 10 rebounds in his final game for Scott County — a 56-50 victory over Ballard in the State championship game.