Aaron Hegge signs with Northwest in basketball

Sweet Home High School’s Aaron Hegge last week on Tuesday signed on to play basketball with Northwest Christian College in Eugene next year.

Hegge is the sixth Husky basketball player to sign with a college team in five years.

He is receiving a scholarship for academics and basketball covering two-thirds, $8,000, of the cost of attending school there. The scholarship is renewable.

Hegge, 6’7″, not only excelled in basketball while at Sweet Home High School. He also held a 3.5 GPA.

Hegge steadily improved in basketball starting his freshman year, the first time he ever played organized basketball.

“The first day of school, coach (Mark Risen) came up to me and introduced himself to me and asked me to come play basketball,” Hegge said.

He answered that he would, Coach Risen said. “I asked him, ‘Have you thought about it?”

He told coach he had, but Coach Risen figured he was just telling him what he wanted to hear. Hegge admitted that’s why he said yes at first.

Basketball didn’t seem interesting at first, Hegge said, and he didn’t have any friends playing. But he gave it a shot.

“I liked it,” Hegge said. “It was pretty fun, the whole team thing, playing together.”

This year, Hegge earned conference first-team honors after averaging seven blocks, nine rebounds and 12 points per game.

He nearly set the state record for the highest blocking average. The state record is 7.1 blocks per game. Charlie Sitton who played at Oregon State University and played pro ball for a while set the record.

Hegge’s team placed fourth at state his sophomore year. The Huskies won the league championship that year. His junior year, the Huskies were league champions in a three-way tie that cost them a spot at state. This year, the Huskies were first in league with just four games left, but they ended in third place and were eliminated during conference playoffs.

He was elected unanimously to the conference first team this year.

This year, he was named team MVP and defensive player of the year. His junior year, he was named most improved and earned the free throw award.

He was named to the Linn-Benton All-Star Series and the state East-West All Star Series this year. The East-West All-Star Series is June 21-23 at Clackamas Community College.

Hegge plans to play four years at Northwest Christian College, but he has not selected a major yet.

Signing on for college ball, Hegge joins the likes of Huskies Nate Tyler at Chemeketa Community College, Blayne Watkins at Linn-Benton Community College, Charlie Pace at Wester Baptist University, Wes Smith at Umpqua Community College and Nick Desmond at Linn-Benton Community College.

“I think it’s going to be a good experience,” Hegge said. “I’m going to have to learn another style of basketball.”

Northwest won the Christian College National Championship three years ago. The team plays within the U.S. Association of Christian Colleges, about 250 schools, including Western Baptist and George Fox University. It also plays in the NCAA Division III.

“I call them a perennial superpower,” Coach Risen said. “As far as the USACC goes, they’ve been highly successful.”

Northwest’s coach has won three national titles.

“I think Aaron could’ve walked on at any junior college and made the program,” Coach Risen said. Hegge grew tremendously every year, on the court and as a person. His rise to a unanimous pick for all-conference honors is a testament to that. “He’s a self-made success story. We just gave him the ball. He went to work.”

Hegge recently played with his future team against the Portland Fire, the national women’s team. Northwest won 67-48, Scott Hegge, Aaron’s father, said. Hegge came up with five blocks, six points, four rebounds and two assists in the game.

“To see a college coach stand up and watch my son run down and make a layup, that was amazing,” Mr. Hegge said. “That shows the coaching from Coach Risen, that Aaron is an all-around player who can step into any team.”

“Not coming from an athletic family,” Sandy Hegge, Aaron’s mother, said. “I’ve never seen anybody as committed as Aaron.”

He was up early four days a week practicing. ” Mrs. Hegge said. “He’s made us very proud.”

Beyond basketball, Hegge “has always shown a desire to serve,” Mrs. Hegge said. “He’s dependable. If you need something done, he does it.”

That is part of the reason Hegge chose this team, Mrs. Hegge said. The team makes sure it is involved in community service.