The decision Butler Bulldogs fans were hoping wouldn’t come for another year became a reality this week when standout forward Gordon Hayward announced his intent to submit his name for the upcoming NBA draft. Hayward, a sophomore out of Brownsburg, Indiana, had previously been considered a fringe NBA prospect, but after leading the Bulldogs within a last second shot of being crowned National Champions at this year’s Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium, his stock has risen considerably.
In explaining the decision, Hayward’s father told the Indianapolis Star the family had been informed Gordon projects to be selected between the 10th and 20th selection — essentially guaranteeing him at least $2.35 million. Thankfully for Brad Stevens, Hayward’s departure to the NBA isn’t set in stone.
By not hiring an agent, the baby-faced forward retains the ability to take his name out of consideration and return for his junior season. That decision must be made by May 8, a matter complicated by Hayward’s commitment to continuing his education. Butler University has finals lasting until May 4, which will make it extremely difficult for Hayward to workout individually for interested teams.
With that mind, I took a look at some of the more prominent NBA Mock Draft websites to see what they had to say about Hayward’s pro potential, and where they project him to be drafted.
What they’re saying…
NBADraft.net — #14 to Houston
“There’s no doubt that he will be able to hit the outside jumper with great accuracy at the next level…is also an effective passer with a high basketball IQ, he often defers to teammates and is willing to make the extra pass…biggest knock on Hayward’s game is his lack of aggression…his lack of elite lateral foot speed and strength will make it difficult to match up with small forwards in the NBA…has other interests and will have other options outside of basketball, but he must commit himself if he wants to be an effective player at the next level…”
DraftExpress.com — #20 to San Antonio
“There are concerns about how he will stick with many of the explosive small forwards in the NBA…should be a very good bet to go in the first round, and he could be a very quick contributor if he’s drafted to a team with a good point guard and a wide open offense that can take advantage of his range and quick shooting…becoming more comfortable creating his shot off the dribble and developing his advanced ball-handling should both be among his priorities…”
ESPN.com — #15 – #20
“Hayward is a very versatile swingman who can do a little bit of everything. He’s tough, a leader and though he didn’t really show it this year, is a very good shooter. While scouts believe he needs to get stronger and start connecting on more of the threes he takes, most NBA teams consider him a terrific NBA prospect. Look for him to go somewhere between the late lottery to mid first round.”
At this point in the proceedings, it appears Hayward is a good bet to be selected in the Top 20, which would likely cause him to keep his name in the draft, but with over 53 underclassmen already declared, not mention all the seniors and foreign players, there’s a very good chance he could see his stock start to fall when compared to players with more NBA-ready bodies. Butler Bulldogs fans can only hope.
|Highlights of Gordon Hayward’s career at Brownsburg and Butler|
In other news, Purdue University juniors E’Twaun Moore (East Chicago, Indiana) and JaJuan Johnson (Indianapolis, Indiana) also entered their names into the draft pool. Like Hayward, neither has hired an agent, but neither has elicited the same excitement with scouts as Hayward either. Johnson, because of his rail-thin frame and inconsistent post play is projected to be taken in the second round, while Moore, a skilled combo guard with questionable athleticism and quickness, isn’t likely to be selected if he keeps his name in the draft. So don’t freak out Boilermaker fans, I fully expect Johnson and Moore to back running the court for Matt Painter next season.