Smart, UT Hoops land Hayes

Jaxson Hayes. (courtesy of Cincinnati Gazette)

Jaxson Hayes. (courtesy of Cincinnati Gazette)

The Texas Longhorns received something of a surprise commitment on Friday from Cincinnati, OH big man Jaxson Hayes.

Hayes, a 6’10, long armed big, tripped to Texas earlier in September, hit it off with head coach Shaka Smart and even moved up his timetable over the last week to get his recruitment over with.

While the recruiting ranking specifics won’t stand out much (he’s a three star pretty much everywhere you look), this is a situation where taking a look at his offers will tell you a different story. Hayes chose the Longhorns over more local schools like Xavier and Butler. But what really moves the needle is that Hayes took an official visit to Kentucky a couple of weekends ago and John Calipari offered, which people assumed would turn this entire recruitment upside down.

That’s the level of prospect Hayes is, and Texas fans should feel pretty good about what he brings.

Strengths

·         Good frame (base, length) that should have little trouble adding muscle and explosiveness with Coach Roose
·         Solid rebounder that uses his understanding of positioning and long arms to attack the ball
·         Plays above the rim around the basket
·         Has some wiggle to his game with the ball facing the basket 15 feet and in
·         Soft touch around the rim
·         Plays with good control and decision making when he gets the ball down low
·         Likes the inside pivot and can sweep to give him looks to his right, which should translate to college given his length

Weaknesses

·         Raw beyond eight feet
·         Won’t blow you away with his athleticism
·         Can be overly aggressive looking for the block on defense
·         Is a dependent player, offensively
·         Can recover with length, but doesn’t appear to possess the foot speed to guard smaller players on switches

How He Fits at Texas

·         Think a smoother James Banks kind of vibe, and it’s likely the role would be similar
·         Jaxson possesses solid ball skills that make him a good play at the back for either the double fist or diamond press
·         On offense, Jaxson will be a primary screener and low block post player for the first season or so
·         Gives Shaka some flexibility with Sims, Hamm and (potentially) Hepa as Hayes brings rebounding and post defense that can help them all

Endgame

While the relative surprise of the commitment provides a bit of fog around Hayes, the positives of this commitment showcase further the kind of clout Shaka brings as a recruiter as Jaxson is a high upside player that multiple big time programs were looking at.

As far as Texas’ 2018 class is concerned, Hayes joins wings Brock Cunningham and Gerald Liddell in what was assumed, initially, to be a three person class. However, the Longhorns remain key players for Keldon Johnson, Kamaka Hepa and Quentin Grimes.

I think it’s fair to assume that Texas’ incoming class could balloon all the way to five players, which means that attrition wouldn’t simply be likely but, in fact, essential. That would paint a fascinating picture to follow during the upcoming season.

Welcome, Jaxson.