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Austin Hatch, left, shoot during a practice at Canterbury High School.

Austin Hatch gets extra year of high school eligibility

Canterbury's Austin Hatch said he will get another year of high school eligibility from the IHSAA.

The senior missed last season while recovering from injuries suffered in a plane crash in June of 2011 that took the lives of his father, Stephen, and stepmother, Kimberly, while traveling on vacation in Michigan.

"(Commissioner) Bobby Cox from the IHSAA has granted me another year of eligibility since I missed last year," Hatch wrote Wednesday in a text message. "I'm looking forward to being back out there."

The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 24 points and 9 rebounds as a sophomore and committed to the University of Michigan about a week before the plane crash. The extra year of high school basketball means Hatch will become a 2014 Wolverines recruit and sign a letter of intent in November of next year and acts as a red-shirt year for Hatch.

"Austin, with assistance of his guardian and school, applied for an additional year of high school eligibility," IHSAA sports information director Jason Wille wrote in an email. "In light of his situation and after the commissioner's own review, Mr. Cox felt that Austin met the provisions contained in Rule 12 of the IHSAA by-laws that speak to exceptions and awarded the extra year of eligibility."

Wille said the extra year for Hatch is not unprecedented, but is rare.

"We don't have a comprehensive list of all those that have received an additional year but, in consulting with others here, you could probably count on one hand the number of times it's happened over the last 20 years," he wrote.

After the plane crash, Hatch spent three months in a Michigan hospital recovering and then returned to Fort Wayne and has since resumed school, rehabilitating and working out to regain his basketball skills.

"They are going very well," Hatch wrote about the workouts. "Getting better all the time."

In 2003, Hatch and his father survived another plane crash that killed Austin's mother, Julie, as well as a sister and a brother.

gjones@jg.net

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