Hoops record-breaker Brandon Hiatt gets Hall nod

By Jeff Linville

April 3, 2014

If the Mount Airy Sports Hall of Fame has proven anything over the years it is that many great athletes have gone through Mount Airy High School over the decades.

Each year, the Hall accepts nominees with truly spectacular credentials.

That is what makes Brandon Hiatt such an impressive inductee.

For all of the great players who have graced the hardwood for the Granite Bears, it is the unassuming Eagle Scout who broke career records and racked up postseason honors.

Brandon Hiatt played on the varsity basketball team all four years.

As a freshman, he received a coach’s award for his effort. As a sophomore he led the team in rebounding. He was the team MVP for both his junior and senior years.

In 1993, the junior was named the Northwest Conference player of the year.

In the 1993-94 season, the senior broke the career mark for most points and rebounds.

He set a single-game record with 43 points, but was never selfish, finishing second on the team in assists each season.

Most scorers are selfish — it is part of what makes them so effective. They believe they can beat their defender on every play.

Brandon believed in getting his teammates involved, said his dad, Mike. Many of Brandon’s baskets came on put-backs after getting an offensive rebound, he noted.

Brandon had his own take on his scoring acumen.

“I probably drove Coach Tony George crazy with all my missed shots,” he said with a laugh. He said his rebounding numbers wouldn’t have been so high if he would have made more shots on his first try.

Don’t let the modesty fool you. Brandon was no brick-layer.

At the Pizza Hut Shootout in 1993, Brandon won the 3-point title.

For his senior season, Brandon made the All-Northwest Team. He also was an all-state academic team selection and a national student-athlete honoree.

Brandon said he always wanted to keep his teammates involved in the game. And because the same group of guys played together for years, the young men had great chemistry.

He mentioned his teammates Jamie Scott, Reeves Vaughn, James Washington and Tim Leak.

Looking back on his son’s career and what the Mount Airy Sports Hall of Fame seeks in its nominees, Mike Hiatt said, “Brandon epitomizes the characteristics the committee has set for the inductees.”

“Brandon led the basketball team to victory and set an example for all students in academic achievement,” he said.

Because of his outstanding play, National Honor Society induction and role as student body president, Brandon caught the eye of many college scouts. He was recruited by several schools, but chose to give up basketball for service to his country.

He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, earning a bachelor’s degree in general engineering.

During his eight years of service in the U.S. Army, Brandon would add a master’s degree in management in 2002.

When it came to playing basketball, Brandon said he knew that he wasn’t the most physically gifted athlete or possessed the best skills, but he knew that no one on the court was going to work harder than he did.

That same idea carried him through his military training and service as well.

Brandon earned a Bronze Star for combat service in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

In 2005, he and wife Jennifer had a baby girl, Morgan.

Brandon decided that he wanted to raise a family back in his hometown. So when his eight-year term finished, he chose not to re-enlist and moved to Mount Airy.

The couple now have two more children: Colin (7) and McKennon (5).

“I’m very humbled by this award,” he said. “I never even considered myself worthy.”

When Brandon was a child, Mike Hiatt was coaching boys’ basketball at Mount Airy. Brandon said he was a gym rat and watched practices and games with fellow inductee Coach Eddie Cobb and players Natalie Nester and Angela Harbour, who already are in the Hall.

Brandon said his parents, Mike and Linda, always told him that if he put in the hard work, then good things could happen. Now he can appreciate one of those good things occurring with Sunday’s induction ceremony.