Whitmer's Nigel Hayes picked Wisconsin over Ohio State, Stanford and Minnesota. (Photo by Gary Housteau)
The biggest name left on the board in Ohio’s Class of 2013 was Toledo
Whitmer’s Nigel Hayes, but that all changed Sunday night when he
committed to one of Ohio’s newest and biggest rivals. Hayes picked Wisconsin over Ohio State, Stanford and Minnesota. Here's why...
The biggest name left on the board in Ohio’s Class of 2013 was Toledo Whitmer’s Nigel Hayes, but that all changed Sunday night when Hayes committed to one of the state’s newest and biggest rivals.
Hayes picked the Wisconsin Badgers over Ohio State, Stanford, and Minnesota.
As noted above, Ohio State was in the final two, and with Hayes’ long-time friend and AAU teammate Marc Loving (Toledo St. John’s) already committed to the Buckeyes it would have been relaxed to believe OSU was the clear choice.
“Marc (Loving) dropped hints here and there about OSU,” Hayes recalls.
In the end, the 6-7-hybrid forward, who has been a coveted recruit for Bo Ryan and his staff for well over a year, just couldn’t pass up the love Wisconsin showed him. Former Akron assistant Lamont Paris did a tremendous job recruiting Hayes, and the Badgers really desired the Whitmer senior making him a top priority.
“Wisconsin’s love for me starting from last year was what sealed the deal for me,” Hayes mentioned.
Hayes referenced what he liked most about the Badgers.
“Wisconsin has a great fan base,” Hayes said.
Hayes is no stranger to big time competition playing in the prestigious Nike EYBL circuit with All-Ohio Red in the spring/summer and contesting at Division I Toledo Whitmer, which plays a formidable schedule in the TRAC. Hayes has the versatility and college-ready-body to compete for minutes early.
“Wisconsin has told me there’s a chance for me to play and play multiple minutes,” noted the 2nd Team All-Ohioan.
Before he heads off to Madison (WI), Hayes has some unfinished business. He helped lead Whitmer to the Division I state finals a year ago, but came up short losing to Pickerington Central (45-40) in the finals. The Panthers finished the season (24-3).
Whitmer returns three starters, so expectations are high once again, leading Hayes to have just one goal for the upcoming season.
“State championship,” Hayes declared.
Hayes, who averaged just over 13 points and nine rebounds a game as junior, sees his Whitmer career ending in grand fashion or at least he hopes.
“I see myself celebrating with the Whitmer faithful after winning the state championship,” Hayes stated.
The Whitmer senior, who scored an impressive 26 on his ACT, becomes the second Ohio commit in Wisconsin’s 2013 class. Hayes joins Bowling Green’s Vitto Brown, another 6-7 forward. The two will join sophomore Traevon Jackson (Westerville South) on the Madison campus.
Hayes is now the sixth Division 1 commitment from All-Ohio Red’s 2013 team joining Keon Johnson (Mansfield Sr./Winthrop), Jordan Lauf (Napoleon/Toledo), Zack Denny (Valley View/Bowling Green), Zach Garber (Vanlue/Toledo), and Marc Loving (Toledo St. John’s/Ohio State). Jaaron Simmons (Kettering Alter) and Damarion Geter (Dayton Dunbar) are the only two yet to commit, but both have D1 offers.