Jaxson Hayes Rises as Highly Valued NBA Prospect

Hayes competing in Texas dunk contest by big12blognetwork.com

Hayes competing in Texas dunk contest by big12blognetwork.com

For the last two decades, Moeller Basketball has been a juggernaut in Southwestern Ohio basketball. The more recent success of Moeller Basketball can be partially credited to the play of Jaxson Hayes, one of the most athletic and dynamic centers in GCL history. He is currently getting national attention as a rising star at the University of Texas, averaging 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks a game. Various mock draft experts have put Hayes in the 1st round in both the 2019 and 2020 NBA drafts. A lot of people don’t know about his beginnings and how he rose onto the national stage. 

Hayes might be a bright, young new face, but he comes from an athletic background. Hayes’ parents, Jonathan and Kristin, both had successful college careers. Jonathan was a star tight end at the University of Iowa, and had a 12-year career in the NFL. He served as the tight end coach at Oklahoma from 1999 to 2002 and was hired to the same position with the Cincinnati Bengals, where he remains today.

Kristin was a basketball star at Drake University after averaging 52 points per game in her senior year of high school! Hayes’ sister, Jillian, is currently playing at Loveland High School. Moeller head basketball coach Carl Kremer recalls the first time he saw Hayes play, “It was his 8th grade year, I was sitting with his dad and his uncle in Moeller’s gym, watching him play for St. Margaret of York. We were talking about how his athletic build could really turn out to be something special.”  

One of the shocking ideas about Hayes’ high school career is his rise, literally, from 6 feet tall as a freshman, to 6’11’’ as a senior. When asked about unprecedented growth Hayes said, “It was crazy because people would constantly tell me that I grew again.” Kremer said that he had never seen anything like it in his career. Another example of this is Moeller great Andrew Brackman ‘04 who grew from 6’2’’ to 6’9’’ in his four years. 

When Hayes first got to Moeller, he was not getting very many minutes as a member of the freshman and JV. Hayes had confidence though. “I never doubted myself,” he said, “Self-doubt is the reason that people don’t succeed, and I always knew I wanted to be something special.” 

Hayes dunking against Cov Cath in 2016 by courier-journal.com

Hayes dunking against Cov Cath in 2016 by courier-journal.com

In his junior year, he helped a talented Moeller squad featuring Keegan McDowell, Riley Voss, a healthy sophomore Miles McBride, and Caleb Canter to a 28-1 record and an appearance in the school’s first Division I state championship game since 2010. One the things that few people realized is that it was a mere shadow of what Hayes was about to do in the 2017-2018 season. Hayes said, “I realized my potential going into my senior year because I knew that I would be a special player”.  He was right on the money with this statement as he went on to average 12 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks per game on the 2018 State Championship team, which was also loaded with senior talent including Jeremiah Davenport, Isaiah Payton, and Roger Bacon transfer Alec Pfriem.  That team in particular was special because of their success without McBride, who had committed to West Virginia, because of a foot injury suffered while playing football for Moeller. 

Hayes caught the eyes of many Division I college coaches, including then-Xavier head coach, Chris Mack, and Kentucky’s John Calipari. He ended up deciding to play for Shaka Smart and the Texas Longhorns.

Since being upgraded to the starting lineup, Hayes has been one of the top young players in the country, which is saying something since Texas has produced their share of NBA caliber talent, including Kevin Durant, Jarrett Allen, and most recently Mohamed Bamba.

When asked about his future, Hayes simply stated, “I want to play in the NBA”. This can be a serious possibility, since his size and athleticism are a rare combination in someone of his size and style of play. When asked if he were to give Hayes advice on his scenario, Coach Kremer said he would not want him to specifically focus on what other people think of him, but on what he can do to improve his game and what his coaches tell him. With all the hard work he has put in, he deserves a shot at the NBA, but if he sticks to what has worked for him, many good things will continue to come. 

Louis Tallarigo