Jarvis Hayes said Tuesday that he will make himself eligible for June's NBA draft."> Jarvis Hayes said Tuesday that he will make himself eligible for June's NBA draft."> Dawgpost.com">

Jarvis Hayes keeps options open

ATHENS, Ga. - Saying the school's decision to pull Georgia's basketball team out of the postseason had "a lot'' to do with his decision, <b>Jarvis Hayes</b> said Tuesday that he will make himself eligible for June's NBA draft.

Jarvis Hayes said that he will protect his option of returning for his 2003-04 senior season by not hiring an agent before the draft. Hayes said he has been told he will be a lottery pick and might return to Georgia if he falls deeper in the first round. Hayes said that decision could be affected by possible NCAA sanctions that could follow the ongoing investigation of rules violations in the Georgia program.

An internet web site which tracks top draft prospects, NBAdraft.net, currently projects Hayes as the No. 6 pick.

Hayes and his teammates were upset Monday when University of Georgia president Michael Adams and athletics director Vince Dooley announced Coach Jim Harrick has been suspended with pay and the team would not be allowed to play in this week's Southeastern Conference tournament or the NCAA tournament, which begins next week.

Georgia officials hope the stiff self-imposed punishment will ward off further sanctions from the NCAA. Hayes said if Georgia is banned from the 2004 NCAA tournament "it would make (the NBA decision) a little easier.''

Hayes, a 6-foot-7 junior who can play shooting guard or small forward, led Georgia with 18.3 points per game this season after leading the Bulldogs and the SEC in scoring with 18.6 points per game as a sophomore.

Just as Georgia finished the regular season on a high note, winning six of its last seven games, Hayes also was hot at the end of the season. He led Georgia with 19 points in Sunday's 60-55 overtime win at South Carolina and scored more than 20 points in four of the last six games, including a career-high 32 points in a win at Mississippi.

"That was probably the most frustrating part, the way I was playing and the team was playing at the end of the year and then to get cut off like that,'' Hayes said.

The investigation that Georgia players were given academic and financial benefits in violation of NCAA rules first led to the suspension and firing of assistant coach Jim Harrick Jr.

On Monday, Dooley and Adams announced that two Georgia starters - Rashad Wright and Chris Daniels - had been found guilty of unethical conduct as part of evidence of academic fraud. In announcing the indefinite suspension of Harrick, Dooley also said Wright and Daniels had been declared ineligible.

Hayes and his teammates were upset they had to watch the Monday press conference held by Dooley and Adams to learn of the suspension of their head coach and the decision to pull the team from the SEC and NCAA tournaments.

Team members tried to speak with Adams at the president's office Monday evening and finally reached Adams at his home. Adams finally spoke with the players only after security guards at his home - apparently alarmed at the sight of the procession of student-athletes - called campus police to the scene.

Hayes said Adams listened to the players' concerns but said "There were some questions he wouldn't answer.''

Hayes' twin brother and teammate, Jonas Hayes, attended Hayes' press conference Tuesday and said he does not know if he will return for his senior season.

The father of the Hayes brothers, James Hayes, also attended Tuesday's press conference, along with assistant coach James Holland. James Hayes said Jarvis' announcement was "a family decision and we are very well satisfied with it.''

Said James Hayes of Monday's actions by Dooley and Adams: "It's upsetting because the team has worked as hard as it has all year, through the ups and through the downs, just working hard. It's kind of upsetting, but decisions have to be made about these things and I'm quite sure Mr. Adams and Mr. Dooley did what they thought was best.''

Jonas Hayes, a top backup forward, said he is on schedule to graduate summer semester and said he does not know if he will return for his senior season. Georgia also loses seniors Ezra Williams, the second-leading scorer, and Richard Wehunt from this year's team.

The possibility of playing with his brother would be an incentive for Jarvis Hayes to return for his senior season, but he says he is prepared for the inevitable fact that at some point they will not be teammates.

"We knew we would come to a point in time where we would have to break up and stop playing together,'' said Jarvis Hayes. "We've been preparing for it and I think we'll be fine.''

Jarvis Hayes, also on schedule to graduate this summer, said he "most definitely'' would consider returning for his senior season even if Harrick is not retained as head coach.

Hayes said he expects to have a better feel for his draft status by late May. He has been invited to participate in the NBA draft camp scheduled to be held in Chicago June 3-9.

"I welcome any challenge,'' said Hayes of his NBA hopes.


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