In the waning moments of what may have been in his final game in burnt orange, a 65-57 Big 12 Tournament loss to the Kansas Jayhawks, Texas Longhorns freshman forward Jaxson Hayes fell to the floor in apparent pain from a left knee injury that occurred as a result of a collision with Jayhawks guard Devon Dotson. With 1:58 remaining in the contest, Hayes was helped off the floor, hardly able to apply any pressure on his left knee.
Hayes didn’t return to the game and won’t play in the NIT first-round game against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits on Tuesday evening at the Erwin Center.
After Texas returned to Austin, Hayes underwent an MRI to reveal the extent of his knee injury, and on Sunday evening, Texas head coach Shaka Smart told reporters that the Longhorns star big man is set to see a specialist for further evaluation on Monday. Smart expects the team to know more about the extent of the injury later in the week.
In 32 games this season, Hayes averaged 10 points, five rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per contest en route to honors as the Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
Depending upon the severity of Hayes’ knee injury and the fact that Texas missed the NCAA Tournament, it likely wouldn’t be of much benefit for Hayes to return to the court this season given the potential NBA future looming ahead. As of late last week, Hayes was slotted as high as No. 6 overall in Bleacher Report’s 2019 NBA Mock Draft.
In the outlet’s most updated projection, Hayes has slipped 15 spots to No. 21 overall.
Smart did note that the injury under evaluation isn’t a “worst-case scenario” for Hayes, but he also added that he doesn’t think Hayes will play again this season.