Four days later, Myles Powell was still grappling with the reality that his college career was over without one last chance at a memorable March.
“I went to sleep Wednesday night and college basketball was over [the next day],” he said. “It was time for the real world.”
The coronavirus pandemic canceled the postseason, eliminating the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1938, and cutting short what Seton Hall’s 6-foot-2 superstar was hoping would be an exclamation point to his four years in South Orange.
It did nothing, however, to hurt his confidence. If not for the widespread virus that has shutdown the sports world, Seton Hall was projected to be a third seed in the tournament, its highest since 1993, and Powell expected great things.
“I feel like we were in the right situation to make a run,” the Trenton native said Monday on a conference call. “And I feel like once we got back playing basketball where you didn’t know what to expect, you didn’t know our plays, that’s when we’re at our best. That would’ve happened in the tournament.”
“I feel like we would’ve made the Final Four.”
Powell remained incredibly proud of this season nonetheless. For the first time since 1993, Seton Hall earned a share of the Big East regular-season crown. It was ranked as high as eighth in the country. It was on track to set a program-record with four straight NCAA Tournaments. And he became the school’s first Big East Player of the Year since Terry Dehere in 1993, finishing as the school’s third all-time leading scorer (2,252) behind Dehere and Nick Werkman. The entire team met at coach Kevin Willard’s house for lunch on Sunday and wore their March Madness shirts like it was still Selection Sunday.
“We had a great season and I’m going to try to keep my head up high,” he said. “The way we got to look at it is we still won a championship.”
Powell didn’t rule out returning, if the NCAA does grant another year of eligibility to seniors who had their seasons cut short, but it would depend on the feedback he gets from NBA personnel.
Right now, most important to Powell is receiving his diploma, becoming the first member of his family to do so. He is on track to graduate. It remains uncertain if Seton Hall will have its ceremony at the Prudential Center in mid-May as planned. Powell is crossing his fingers.
“Not only for myself, but I want everybody in my family to experience that moment, so hopefully everything gets back to normal,” he said.