Jacksonville (FL) Sandalwood center Bradley Hayes is the prototypical late bloomer that coaches love to find – especially since he is nearly 7-foot tall.
Hayes (6-11, 252) was destined to head to prep school before blossoming during a senior season in which he averaged 15 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks a game.
It helped that Hayes – who missed his sophomore season with a broken fibula and dislocated knee and only played five games as a junior due to academic ineligibility - shed 25 pounds and redefined his body with muscle.
"That was the plan at first, but hasn't been for awhile since all these schools are interested in me after I got in shape and played pretty well this season," Hayes said. "I'll still more of a defensive-first guy, but my offense came around during the season and I think that's what all the coaches are seeing."
One of those coaches is Arkansas' Mike Anderson, who brought assistants Melvin Watkins and T.J. Cleveland along to see Hayes work out on Friday.
The trio then had a home visit with the young man.
"Coach Anderson brought his entire staff and they really made a great impression on me," Hayes said. "Arkansas is definitely a strong option for me now because of what I heard from those guys. I know that I could fit in there right away because they have 6-7 and 6-9 guys, but not anyone like me – a 6-11 soon to be over 7-foot guy.
"Coach Anderson showed me his national championship ring and that was very cool," Hayes added. "He was on the staff and helped them win one when he was at Arkansas and has had great success at each place he has gone since then. Now he wants to win another one at Arkansas and he wants me to be a piece of that puzzle."
Hayes – who won't turn 18 until August - hosted Texas A&M on Saturday and will have UConn, Florida State, Florida, Georgetown, Rhode Island and Georgia all do home visits this week.
All this attention is coming after a Saturday night performance in which he was named a CO-MVP of the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches Senior All-Star game.
Hayes, who grew seven inches in five months during his sophomore year of high school, had 18 points and 14 rebounds in that aforementioned contest.
"It's really been exciting and I am humbled by it all," Hayes said. "I am just trying to meet with all these teams and take some visits and see what the best fit for me is."
Arkansas, Memphis, Georgetown, Texas A&M, Florida State, Georgia, Mississippi State and Central Florida have all already offered.
"Right now I just consider myself really wide open," Hayes added. "I don't want to rush this. I would say that I know the most about Georgetown and Texas A&M, but I would call them the leaders. Now I know a lot about Arkansas.
"I need to find the best fit for me, someone that needs me and has great coaches and great players to be around," Hayes continued.
One recent report said that Hayes would definitely head to Florida if offered by head coach Billy Donovan, who was at his workout on Friday.
"No, that's not true," Hayes said. "What I said is that I really like Florida and Coach Donovan and if he offers me, it is a school I will really consider. But I have no number one choice. Like I said, I am wide open."
Hayes will not take any visits until May because he is finishing up an online math course that will make him fully qualified.
"My counselor got me in the wrong math class, but we got that figured it out and I am taking this online class that will have me good to go," Hayes said. "I'll have that done by the end of the month and then start taking some visits."
He will also play next weekend in Pittsburgh AAU Tournament for the DH Warriors AAU team.
"I am going to get my course work down and then I'll start taking the visits in May," Hayes said. "I just don't know which schools I am going to take visits to yet. I'll decide that later this month."
Arkansas Impresses Hayes
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