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Guard Reggie Hearn went from walk-on at Northwestern to count-on player

Northwestern v Ohio State

Northwestern v Ohio State

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Updated: April 8, 2013 8:03AM

Reggie Hearn came to Northwestern as a lightly recruited walk-on but will be the last player introduced in what likely will be the final home game of his college career when the Wildcats host Penn State on Thursday.

“Scottie Pippen and then Reggie,” fellow senior Alex Marcotullio said, comparing Hearn to the former Bulls great. “He’s probably the second best walk-on ever.”

It has been an unlikely path from the end of the bench to the anchor of the lineup for the Fort Wayne, Ind., product who helped his high school team to a berth in the 4A state finals as a back-to-the-basket power forward only to develop into a capable Big Ten guard.

Hearn proved he was more than a bench player when injuries to Marcotullio and JerShon Cobb forced coach Bill Carmody to try him in the backcourt early last season.

Hearn has started every game he has appeared in since, averaging 10.2 points.

“It was a combination of hard work and opportunity,” Hearn said. “I would be the first one to tell you that if Alex and JerShon had not gotten injured last year, I’m not sure I would’ve seen the floor, maybe a little bit, but not to the extent I did. I needed an opportunity.”

Hearn has made the most of it. He has been Northwestern’s best player during a season that saw the roster devastated by injuries.

He’s averaging 13.7 points and shooting .455 from the field.

“He has some ability,” Carmody said. “It’s not just hard work. He has some talent. When you combine those things, you move forward.”

The Wildcats (13-16, 4-12 Big Ten) have lost six in a row but would like nothing more than to send Hearn and the other seniors out with a win over the Nittany Lions (9-19, 1-15).

“I’ve never seen it happen in ­Division I basketball,” freshman Kale Abrahamson said of a walk-on becoming a featured starter. “It’s ­remarkable what he has done and a credit to giving people a chance.”

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