Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Hagopian defends for Armenia

Courtesy of Suffolk Athletics

Offseason for athletes is about practicing more, playing more and becoming more talented in their respective sport. As for Michael Hagopian, a guard for Suffolk University Men’s basketball, he spent part of his summer as a member of the Under-20 Armenian National Team in Greece throughout July.

This rare opportunity had been in the works since his freshman year, said Hagopian, as the Basketball Federation of Armenia kept tabs on him throughout his college career.

An invite was sent to him in the middle of his sophomore year, as he ended the season for the Rams, averaging 22.5 points in their final eight games.

“I got a lot of experience from playing overseas,” said Hagopian in a recent interview with The Suffolk Journal. “I learned a lot about my game and how to improve my weaknesses. I was able to start every game for Armenia so I really had a good experience.”

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Hagopian had a breakout sophomore season for the Rams in the 2016-17 season, with career-highs in points at 14.3, 12.2 shot-attempts, a free-throw percentage of 84.7 and field-goal percentage of 42.3. Additionally, he became the first Ram to record back-to-back 30-point games in over a decade.

“I started to play really well, the best basketball I’ve played, and they thought I could really help the team,” said Hagopian.

He explained that this was a possibility he just could not turn down as he would be able to visit his home country, have everything paid for and play that sport that he loves.

In the six-game period with Armenia, in which they went 3-3 in the nine-day period, Hagopian averaged 8.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 29.2 minutes per game. He said that as he played against competition from outside of the United States and saw playstyles from other parts of the world, his knowledge of the sport expanded.

Hagopian’s Under-20 head coach, Vicken Eskidjian, saw the potential and talent in Hagopian, which led Eskidjian to trust Hagopian as the point guard position for the team. The two only had a brief time to prepare for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Under-20 European Championships.

“He has the scoring mentality, and he defends too,” said Eskidjian in an interview with The Journal. “Even when he wasn’t on the floor, I knew he would make the right decision. For me, it’s not just about the scoring. He reads the game and I gave him the green light to make more attempts.”

Eskidjian was a big proponent of Hagopian’s athleticism, defensive ability, physicality and shot-making ability. He explained what stood out from the guard and Watertown, Mass. native, in comparison to other guards on the national team, was “him being wiser.”

Eskidjian said that Hagopian showed tremendous temperament and a positive attitude that stood out as he faced the other European players.

If the opportunity presented itself, the idea of playing international basketball at the professional level had entered the head of Hagopian.

“I feel like I learned a lot about international basketball,” said Hagopian. “If I ever have the opportunity to play professionally overseas, I feel like I got a little taste of that playing for the national team. The style of play is different.”

With two years left of wearing jersey number 10, Hagopian said he is zoned in on improving as a player and helping the Suffolk basketball program evolve, with its plethora of underclassman. Also, he is 463 points away from reaching the 1,000 point plateau, a milestone last reached at Suffolk by Caleb Unni ’16 in 2016.

“I hope to bring the same mentality as representing my country to Suffolk, and wanting to make a name for Suffolk basketball,” said Hagopian.

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Clevis Murray, Staff Writer

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Hagopian defends for Armenia