“Don’t ever doubt me! Don’t ever doubt me,” Hamlet later recalled. “That’s what I told the Purdue fans. That’s what I’m telling the whole world. Don’t ever doubt Javion Hamlet.”
Hamlet, a senior from Memphis who received no Division I scholarship offers coming out of high school, scored 24 points in 43 minutes as No. 13 seed North Texas beat fourth-seeded Purdue 78-69 in overtime to advance in the South Region. The Mean Green will play either Villanova or Winthrop on Sunday.
Four North Texas starters scored in double figures as the Mean Green, making their fourth NCAA tournament appearance and first since 2010, never let Purdue get the lead after the game’s second minute.
“If I told you that we didn’t plan to do this, I’d be lying,” coach Grant McCasland said of his veteran team. “Those guys in that locker room came here for this reason. You never know what happens when you get out there and scrap. … But those guys believe we’re going to win. They really do. That’s the part that you love about sports. No one out here is any better or any different when it comes down to the work you put in and what you control.”
Hamlet has scored in double figures in his 11 games, averaging 18.9 points during the span.
“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity my whole life man, to show the world who Javion Hamlet is,” said Hamlet, the 2020 Conference USA Player of the Year. “When the lights get big, I love that.”
North Texas beat Western Kentucky in overtime of the Conference USA championship game, after squandering an 11-point halftime lead, to reach the NCAAs.
“It’s a great feeling, just to be the first team in history,” Hamlet said. “Nobody can take that away from us. … And just showing the world that we’re gritty. A lot of under-recruited guys, no [five-star recruits]. Let that be known: We have no five-stars.
“I don’t understand why people are so surprised. I feel like we can play with anybody in the country because of the way we defend and the way we’re gritty. We’re the underdogs.”