Sunday, 21 October 2018 16:17

James Hayward: Making a Name for Himself in Boston

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February 22, 2024:Boston, MA – In what can only be defined as a mediocre season so far, the Boston Buzzards  have gone with a much smaller, more nimble line-up than they have traditionally fielded in the past. This change has given former second round pick, James Hayward, an opportunity to quietly make a name for himself in Beantown.

Hayward, a 23 year-old sophomore who was drafted with the 36th pick in the 2023 Rookie Draft, has started all but one of the first 52 games on the season this year. In his 29.1 minutes, he has filled the role of the Glue Guy, dropping in 8.5 points, grabbing 5.4 rebounds, dishing out 2.7 assists, and generating 1.2 steals on a true shooting percentage of 53.5%. Averaging only 7.2 field goal attempts a night, Hayward has been asked to quietly facilitate the offense, bang a three on call, and play solid defense. Perhaps the most impressive statistic is that he averages less than 1.0 fouls per 36 minutes, all while playing solid match-up defense on the perimeter.


“We could not be happier with how James has accepted his role on this team,” commented Head Coach Allan Santos. “He really is a team-first guy and has done everything we have asked of him.”


Hayward stayed in school, earning his B.A. in communications from New Mexico University. There, the 3-year starter averaged 9.2 point, 4.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.7 steals in 25.1 minutes over his four years collegiate career. Jason Warnke, the General Manager of the Boston Buzzards, stated that Hayward was someone that he has been watching since his sophomore season in college.


“James was a kid we thought had the potential to be a first round talent when he first showed up on our radar back in 2020. In fact, we were surprised that he returned for his junior and senior seasons as this may have cost him come draft time. A lot of my colleagues discount players that stick it out for the whole four years. Not for us with regard to James. We knew he was ready to play a role on our team from day one, despite slipping into the second round and being selected by the San Diego Storm.”


While he did not start in his rookie campaign, Hayward did contribute 12.3 minutes in 77 of the teams 80 games in 2022. He struggled a bit from the line and the field (.357 | .557 | .304) but all these numbers have improved in 2023. Teammates can count on James to nail the open three when defenders collapse on their inside-focused game plan.


When asked how he feels about his role with a struggling Boston team, Hayward said, “I know that this is not the same Buzzard team the fans have been used to since I arrived last season. But I do think we are moving in the right direction. A lot of my teammates are all around the same age, and I think we are improving every day. I appreciate the team taking a chance on me.


Apparently, that appreciation should now go both ways, as James recently inked a 4-year team-friendly contract extension that will pay Hayward $2.0 million per year through the 2027 season. Not bad for someone who would have likely garnered mid-level attention this offseason when the second year of his rookie scale contract expired. It is nice to see that some kids in the league have loyalty that extends beyond the business of basketball.


“Yeah, I supposed I could have held out for more,” joked Hayward. “I I had already had discussions with Mr. Warnke and how he definitely wanted to keep me here in Boston, but as is with the business of basketball, claimed he probably would not be able to offer nearly what any other team might come to the table with. Since he took a chance on me, I decided to take this decision of the table for him by signing a contract now. Maybe this was smart, maybe not. But at least I don’t have to think about this for a few more seasons now.”


James, who had originally been known as “Jamey” since his time in college, also addressed his going back to the name he was legally born with:


“Ever since I can remember, my closest family members always called me Jamey – and they still do. It doesn’t bother me at all, but I feel like it’s only those that know me best that use that name. Since I meet so many new people every day, it was odd to hear them screaming “Jamey.” I don’t know. I guess I just want to separate my personal and professional lives a little. It makes me feel like I have control over something I can’t really control. No one in the locker room calls me Jamey. It’s always been James, or J, or some other nickname freaking Perk throws my way in practice. It’s not a huge deal.” 


“We know for a fact other teams would have been after James this offseason,” confirmed Warnke. “We are just happy he and his agent came to us preemptively. This means we can more effectively plan our moves over the next few seasons in an effort to rebuild this Buzzards roster to its former glory. We are thankful for that.”


Hayward will suit up in four nights, as the team will face the Arizona Thunderbirds in Phoenix.

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