Handling Hanlan

Should I stay or should I go? Stay. Please stay. Don’t be another sellout. Don’t chase the fame. Stay for your school. Stay to develop the young squad we will have next year. Stay for the chance to have one good year and to finish out your collegiate campaign on a positive note. Stay for your future. Just stay. Please.

Such a conversation is one that Olivier Hanlan and Jim Christian have more than likely had at some point over the past several weeks. Maybe Christian wasn’t quite so flowery about it, but without a doubt, retaining Hanlan has been his top priority this offseason. As the rock of the Boston College basketball program considers his future, there will certainly be a clash of opinions running through Hanlan’s head. Chestnut Hill can only hope that Christian’s voice rings deepest and truest in the end.

Hanlan certainly has a tough decision to make. He has been underrated and underappreciated for the entirety of his career; he has had to fight every step of the way to achieve half of the notoriety that players similar to him receive. Now, he is a projected second round pick in this year’s NBA draft. That is a far way to come for a Canadian basketball player whose college recruitment grossly underestimated the player he would become. The question, though, is whether or not he has come far enough.

Hanlan hasn’t necessarily faced the toughest path in life, but he also was never handed anything on a plate. His entire career has been a proving ground. Hanlan first had to break out of the Canadian circuit, which doesn’t offer much competition compared to the next country south. Through national contests and strong play, though, Hanlan gained the opportunity to transfer to New Hampton, a prep school in New Hampshire. It was there that he had to fight for looks from scouts in a state that is not historically known for producing basketball stars.

After receiving offers from several non-basketball powerhouses—like Rice, TCU and Virginia Tech—Hanlan finally was given a chance by a team that was rapidly losing prominence in the NCAA, but one that was still in what is often considered the country’s best conference. At Boston College, Hanlan would immediately turn heads with his outstanding play.

The Canadian’s freshman season was characterized by awards, records and conference accolades. As the ACC Rookie of the Year, Hanlan started every game, he set the ACC freshman single game scoring record with 41 points against Georgia Tech, and he was widely recognized by the league as its most promising player.

Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

Although Hanlan left himself large shoes to fill the following year, he remained cool under pressure. Rather than fade into the background, the wunderkind again started all games, increasing his average minutes played. He raised his points-per-game by more than three, his free throw percentage by six percentiles, and his assists from 2.3 to 2.9 per contest. What's more, his numbers again increased during his junior year to 19.5 PPG (points), 4.2 RPG (rebounds) and 4.2 APG (assists). On top of that, some of his strongest performances came against ranked opponents. This past February, Hanlan followed up a 28 point game against #10 Notre Dame with 30 against #12 North Carolina.

After continually showing improvement from already impressive campaigns, having made a name for himself against the best, and with a seemingly guaranteed spot in the NBA next year, why would Olivier Hanlan ever consider staying at Boston College?

Well, for starters, Olivier’s exceptional career has been with a dismal program. In his time at BC, the team has not had a single winning season, and it holds a combined 37-60 record. Olivier has not even seen an NIT bid, let alone a March Madness invitation. Where many of the best prove themselves in college, Hanlan has been quiet. Staying in Chestnut Hill holds the possibility of solidifying his legacy in college basketball.

Another reason for Olivier to stay is so that he can raise his draft potential. The earliest he is predicted to go is 31st, but several other boards list him in the forties and fifties. Generally, the higher your pick, the quicker you see playing time in the NBA. Though Hanlan already averages more points per game than this year’s projected number one selection, Jahlil Okafor, an extra year in college would almost definitely bolster his stock potential, meaning more money and more respect in his future.

A third reason for the ACC’s leading scorer to stay is one that is less exciting, but legitimate nonetheless. Olivier will significantly help develop Christian’s program if he stays. Should Hanlan opt out of the draft, he will be one of only three returning players who saw significant time this year, one of two legitimately active seniors, and the only one who has consistently played during the past several years. It would be a tremendous opportunity for next year’s inexperienced squad to develop under the likes of a future professional, and having such a mentor around would do wonders for the program over the next several years. If loyalty means anything, then Hanlan will stay to strengthen the relevancy of his alma mater.

Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

With all that said, Olivier has the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream, and that promise alone might be enough to see one of the best athlete’s in school history depart. Also, as a disclaimer to the opening paragraph, Jim Christian recently said that he would encourage Olivier to declare if he was a projected first round pick, but because Olivier falls just short of that mark, one can only hope Christian is fighting for his star player to stay.

In the end, if history suggests anything, there might yet be a chance for Boston College. As people were having the same conversations about Hanlan’s future last year, the humble Canadian quietly texted Tom Layman of the Boston Herald, “Not trying to make a bi[g] deal about this but it’s just to confirm that I will be back at BC next year.” As this year’s situation for Hanlan almost exactly mirrors last year’s, it is distinctly possible that similar sentiments will again hold true for BC’s most beloved player.

So, will he stay or will he go? With less than a month before Olivier must make his decision, Chestnut Hill will soon know the fate of the small town Canadian who fought his way to the top.

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Jazzercise enthusiast and aspiring philatelist. Grammar and sports are my third and seventh passions, respectively.