- Associated Press - Friday, January 14, 2011

Jeremy Hazell withdrew from the NBA draft last spring with two goals in mind: becoming Seton Hall’s all-time leading scorer and leading the Pirates back to the NCAA tournament.

Instead, the senior shooting guard’s season so far has been one to forget.

Three games into the campaign, Hazell broke his left wrist in a game against Alabama in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam. Surgery and two months of rehabilitation followed.

The worst came a month later. Hazell was shot under an armpit in an attempted robbery outside his Harlem home on Christmas.

Hazell survived and this week he returned with a 23-point performance off the bench in leading the Pirates (8-9) to a rare Big East road win over DePaul.

“I just wanted to come back and help my teammates because we are struggling a little bit,” Hazell said in a telephone interview from Pittsburgh on Friday. “We played great the other night. I’m just so happy to be on the court again.”

Hazell is even happier to be alive, with vivid memories of being robbed still fresh in his mind.

Hazell was in front of his home when he was confronted by a number of men. He has no idea why he was singled out.

“I was probably the guy they saw and they just tried to rob me for what I had,” Hazell said. “That’s how it went down.”

Hazell knows one of the alleged robbers had a gun. He’s not sure about the others.

The one with the gun told him to sit down. The lean 6-foot-5 athlete didn’t.

“I didn’t cooperate,” Hazell said. “I just turned around and started running, and they started shooting.”

Hazell was hit under his arm but kept running.

“God was right there with me,” Hazell said. “After I was shot and ran, the ambulance was right in my face. There is never an ambulance (there), so I think God sent an angel over me. I’m so blessed. That was a very humbling situation, and I am so happy to be here right now.”

Hazell said the shooting has changed him.

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