Jaxson Hayes: Hustle
Our scouting grades represent the composite opinion of at least three different scouts. Each category is graded based on how we view a player’s current ability level relative to NBA players at the same position (guard, wing, forward or big). A grade of 1 indicates replacement level, a grade of 5 indicates NBA average, and a grade of 10 indicates historically elite. Our composite scouting notes help provide context for our grades.
The motor for this young center is unquestioned. Hayes is a hustler on both ends of the floor who is willing to work hard, especially when battling for 50/50 balls or creating extra possessions. The interesting part of his motor, though, is that his conditioning needs significant improvement. He usually gets pulled off the floor for foul trouble, but will tire out and lose effectiveness if he is playing for long stretches. Most college big men are prone to fatigue, and Hayes has the athletic prowess and frame to get into good shape once he has access to professional strength and conditioning coaches and facilities.
He is a good position rebounder on the offensive end, one who can get himself into positions where he is essentially impossible to box out. Hayes also maximizes his length in this department, playing on the baseline side while still being able to grab boards from jump shots. He elevates quickly and barely lets the ball off the cylinder before getting a hand on it. He is good at keeping the ball high and putting shots up quickly to diminish the impact shot blockers and contact can have.
One of the more concerning areas in his defensive resume is that Hayes isn't great at closing out possessions as a defensive rebounder. Some of the blame for his low rebounding rate comes from playing with good rebounders like Dylan Osetkowski and Kerwin Roach, but Hayes still has shown a limited ability in this area. He isn't quite explosive enough to effectively high-point the ball in traffic and he rarely boxes out. Adding weight will help him drop anchor and fend off opponents, but he will need to make a concerted effort to finding someone to box out. A lot of the issues revolve around his rebounding rate, however he spends a lot of defensive effort chasing blocks, which can often leave him out of position. He projects as someone who can function as a solo big and rim protector, but he will need to find his rebounding niche in order to limit second chance opportunities.
Scoring in transition has been a part of Hayes' efficient scoring profile. He has good speed relative to other bigs and can generally outhustle most seven footers on the break. He fills the lane well, racing ahead of the pack as well as finishing from the trail position. The ability to play above the rim and his good secondary break instincts make him an effective weapon. Learning to set a drag or cross screen will help him widen the lanes he has to roll to the basket.
Hayes has gotten more than a few chase down blocks this season, a skill which automatically makes him a valuable transition defender. However his proclivity for cleaning the offensive glass often puts him out of position to defend opposing fast breaks. He has done a good job when he is ahead of the pack, working back and keeping his head on the rim line. His presence as a shot blocker has made him a deterrent on the rare occasions he happens to be ahead of the break.