College basketball’s top coaches—Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, the University of Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun, Louisville’s Rick Pitino and others—made sure to get courtside seats for the 2005 Kingwood Classic in Houston, the nation's premiere competition for high-school aged hoops players.
Many of the A-list coaches had come to watch the Elite Legends of Portland, Oregon. The team overflowed with potential Division I college talent. Six-foot-11-inch Kevin Love would go on to lead UCLA to the 2008 Final Four and sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Six-foot-9-inch Kyle Singler, now a junior at Duke, also seems destined for the NBA jackpot.
Amidst the coaching royalty sat Brett Reed, then Lehigh’s assistant men’s basketball coach and now head coach. If most observers were transfixed by Love and Singler, Reed had his eyes set nearly a full foot lower, on the Legends’ 5-foot-11-inch point guard, Marquis Hall.
“Marquis really impressed me at the tournament,” Reed recalls. “He pushed all the right buttons, was adept at controlling the tempo and pace of the game, and understood all the nuances of playing the point guard position.
“I left there knowing that Marquis was a player that Lehigh really needed.”
Hall’s astute decision-making wasn’t limited to the court. His parents, Floyd and Reese, had one simple rule for their only child—academics came first. Hall lived up to his side of the bargain, recording a 4.0 GPA at Jefferson High School in Portland and being chosen as his senior class valedictorian. His commitment to excellence in the classroom and on the basketball court made him a popular recruiting target.
Hall initially knew little about Lehigh, but he did some homework and became quite interested.
“Lehigh is a great academic institution and it was obvious that Coach Reed and the Lehigh program really wanted me,” Hall says. “I was a high-priority recruit for them and my goal was to touch the court as a freshman rather than sit on the bench.”
Hall chose Lehigh over Portland State, San Diego and the University of Portland, and he did far more than just touch the court. In his freshman year, he averaged 10.9 points a game to become Lehigh’s first-ever Patriot League Rookie of the Year. The past two seasons, he has been an all-league performer, averaging 14.1 points a game as a sophomore and 13.9 as a junior. Before the start of the current season, he was named 2009-10 Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year.
“A selfless, team-first player”
Through Lehigh’s Jan. 5 victory over Yale, Hall had piled up 1,302 points (currently 13th on Lehigh’s all-time scoring list). Perhaps more importantly, he had also dished out a school-record 565 assists. Off the court, he is a finance major carrying a 3.39 overall GPA and has won the Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar Award the past two years.
“Marquis embodies everything that Lehigh and Lehigh athletics should be about,” Reed says. “Despite all the individual accolades he’s received, he’s a selfless, team-first guy who is totally committed both in the classroom and the basketball court. He’s the perfect example of what a Division I student-athlete should be.”
Even though his daily calendar is jam-packed between the demands of a challenging major and a varsity sport, Hall still finds time to help others as a board member of Lehigh’s C.O.A.C.H. (Community Outreach from Athletes who Care about Helping) program.
“Marquis has a special connection with the children we visit at area elementary and middle schools,” says Roseann Corsi, who runs the C.O.A.C.H. program. “He cares so much about them and really wants to make a difference in their lives.”
During his three-plus years here, Hall has been an honor-roll student, has won every individual honor that an athlete can garner and has blossomed into a leader on campus and in the community. All that’s left on his Lehigh to-do list is to win a Patriot League championship and get into the 2010 Big Dance. After that, he’d like to play pro ball overseas for a few years before putting his finance degree to work.
“To win the Patriot League and get a chance to play in an NCAA Tournament would be the perfect way to end my Lehigh career,” Hall says. “I came here to get a great education and to win championships and I’ve yet to do the latter. But I think it’s an attainable goal this year.”