There is a battle brewing between a pair of Big Ten squads for the services of power forward Nigel Hayes (Toledo, Ohio/Whitmer). The 6-foot-7 post recently eliminated Minnesota and Stanford from his list, leaving Wisconsin and Ohio State left in the running.
Hayes is the No. 4-ranked senior player in Ohio and is on the cusp of being a Top 100 talent after enjoying a strong spring and an even better summer on the hardwood. He has continued to make strides this fall and could be in line for a huge senior campaign.
Hayes is a combo forward who is more of a power forward at this stage of his career. His versatility is what is so attractive to college coaches. Hayes runs the floor well on the break and is a good finisher. He has a solid offensive scoring package that allows him to score inside the paint and from the perimeter. Hayes can post smaller defenders, scoring over his left shoulder or using his quickness to spin off of defenders playing him too tightly. On the perimeter he makes plays from about 20 feet and in.
Hayes can make open shots off the catch or in pick-and-pop situations and also completes straight-line drives. Hayes is a pretty good rebounder in and out of his area. Defensively Hayes can defend both forward positions with ease and he also does a nice job contesting and blocking shots. Hayes will need to continue to add to his offensive scoring package, but he is a smart player who plays to his strengths and produces consistently.
Here’s what Hayes had to say about his two finalists.
"I enjoy coach [Thad] Matta’s personality and his sense of humor. He is a real people-person. Coach [Bo] Ryan really connected well with me and my family during the home visit. He is a very down to earth person."
Style of play
"I like the way Ohio State gets up and down the floor. They have a style of play that is fun for the players and fans. My position has some freedom to make plays. Wisconsin plays a little slower and they do a great job of developing their players, especially shooters. And they just wear down their opponents with the way they work the shot clock and play defense."
"I am going to major in business. My goal is to be a CEO one day. Both schools have very good business programs and both will be able to open doors after graduation."
"Columbus is close to home. Madison is a beautiful area with a lot of great businesses in the area."
"Ohio State has a couple guys returning at my position, but I can see where I can fit in. Wisconsin has more players graduating at my position."
"I have no set date at this time. Not sure if I will sign during the early period. I am going to discuss this further with my parents."