Jaxson Hayes is now officially the Texas Longhorns latest lottery pick.
On Thursday evening, courtesy of a proposed trade with the Atlanta Hawks, the New Orleans Pelicans selected the 6’11 center with the 8th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, making Hayes Texas’ third first-round selection in as many years, as he joins Mohamed Bamba (6th in 2018) and Jarrett Allen (22nd in 2017).
Quite unlike his predecessors, though, Hayes required what can be described as nothing short of a meteoric rise to his latest status as a lottery talent. He wasn’t a five-star McDonald’s All-American in high school, as Bamba, Allen, and even Myles Turner were, and he certainly wasn’t expected to spend just one season in Austin after arriving ranked outside of the top-100 in his class.
Nevertheless, Hayes’ development was sudden and substantial, and just months after serving as the backup center to sophomore Jericho Sims, Hayes is now the first center prospect selected in the 2019 NBA Draft.
What are the Pelicans getting in the bouncy, shot-blocking Hayes?
Hayes was seldom a go-to option offensively in Austin, but he consistently found points as a rim-runner and courtesy his 7’3.5 wingspan, 9’2.5 standing reach, and notable knack for contorting his body mid-air to adjust to passes, he provided the Longhorns with an excellent lob target coming out of pick and roll sets.
With impressive hands — credit his background as a wide receiver in high school — Hayes catches and finishes nearly opportunity around the rim, as evident with his 86.7 percent field goal success rate at the rim, per Hoop-Math.com. When [pick-and-roll] opportunities arise, Hayes makes the most of them, as he averaged 1.429 points per possession on 70 attempts last season and converted at an 80 percent clip (40-of-50). Hayes displays a fluid free throw form and converts accordingly, as he made 74 percent of his free throw attempts as a freshman, including 82.3 percent (51-62) throughout conference play.
When Hayes’ entire offensive contributions are collectively considered, he boasted a Big 12-best 73.9 percent true shooting percentage, and his 133.7 offensive rating ranked seventh nationally.
Despite playing just 23.3 minutes per contest, Hayes blocked 2.2 shots each time out, which was good for third-best in the Big 12, and that effort increases to 3.8 rejections per 40 minutes. Of course, it certainly helps when protecting the paint when one boasts a 7’3.5 wingspan and 9’2.5 standing reach, but Hayes displays impressive timing and instincts around the rim, which helped paved the way for a nationally elite 10.6-percent block percentage.
The full scouting report on Hayes can be found here.
This story will be updated.