Disclaimer: My specialty is Church history and theology – I know nothing about the specifics of big time basketball – I simply report what I see.
Lazar Hayward: game against The Patterson School on November 19th at St. Andrew's School, Barrington, RI.
First Impressions: Prior to the game, I was able to see Hayward standing at the side of the gym, speaking with other players. He looked about 6'6" rather than 6'5" – he is tall and has excellent upper body strength. He seems like a fine guy. Was very courteous, not cocky, and had an inner drive on the court that made him a typical Crean recruit. Gets upset with himself after mistakes and works to improve. Case in point: Lazar made an errant pass with 2 min. left in a tight game against the #1 prep team in the land. He was exasperated but did not let emotion get the best of him. Within the next minute – minute mind you – this is all he did.
1.) On an inbounds play, his incredible defense made the opponent turn it over.
2.) On the next play after turnover, Lazar slashed to the lane and scored a put-in in the land of the giants.
3.) Ten seconds later he gets fouled and goes to the line to sink the two FT's that would largely put the game away.
Ironically, Hayward did not start the game, but came in after about 5 minutes and played the 1st and 2nd halves this way. I should say, too, that this squad is extremely well-coached. They have unbelievable talent, but there is no hot-dogging and they are disciplined in running their sets. I think the coaching and the discipline with the offense was what won this game for Prep. Patterson School had amazing athletes, too. The Game was played above the rim and the guards were super quick. The impressive thing about both teams was the rebounding. All the players in the paint had timed jumps to the point where the rebound was won just at the point where is started its downward trajectory. Boxing out was almost secondary, since most of the Patterson guys were airborne as soon as the rock clanked off the rim. Incredible to watch.
1st half: LH's defense contained his man. Also, due to his size, he was able to switch off the 3 guard on various plays and go low to guard the 4. His defense came up with a steal and a deflection in the first half. LH has long arms and excellent handles.
So, you want a point guard?: My, my, this was perhaps the most impressive part of his game. This fella can flat out run the point. He was unbelievable at breaking down the defense. He was only allowed to take over the point on three occasions in the first half, but scored powerfully on 2/3 of them. He has a mean crossover dribble that simply knocked his defender off his heels and sent Lazar slashing to the lane for a power move that reminded me of…well, a guy who was 6"4' and could do that at MU. The other play from the point took him right for about a 12' bank shot over a couple of 6'9" guys.
Shooter: LH is definitely a shooter's shooter. Amazing rotation on the ball. In a period of tense play, with Patterson closing in on the lead, the Prep point got it to LH at about 3' past the 3-point arc and he unloaded with an NBA swish 3. Best part – after that shot some interested observers 3 rows in back of me asked audibly, "Where's that #12 going?" "Mar-quette," was the reply from an AAU coach from the Bronx who was sitting next to me.
Lazar's second 3 pt. attempt was from literally about 40'. I mean it was a bomb. It was a little off the mark, but it was clear that Coach Barton and the team allowed Lazar to take the shot, because he is able to make it. You really cannot leave him alone out there, you also can't allow him to run the point, or take you off the dribble, or slash to the basket, or get you down low. Stupid. In the second half a Villanova fan sitting next to me exclaimed "Wow, is that guy versatile, what is he, about 6'6"?"
The other impressive intangible was his team play. Hayward played within Coach Barton's system. Invariably, he looked for assists. He did not hot dog it and played with his head up. I do not recall a defensive lapse – he stuck to his man like glue. His chemistry with Paul Harris was exceptional. It was clear that he and Harris – who is an incredible player – were mind reading out there on the break. They were completely befuddling Patterson in the open court. It is a wonder why Boeheim did not recruit them as a package. Anyway, I can see the same thing happening between Lazar and DJ, Wes, and Jerel.
After LH established himself as a 3pt threat, Patterson
always thew/flew 2 defenders at him on each pump fake from
the perimeter. He then passed it off to a cutter or to
Hariss at the top of the key for the score. ND Prep is
scary with talent.
I sat next to guy we shall call "Malcomb of New York," an AAU coach from the Brooklyn connected to the South Kent School. He said that Notre Dame Prep was not just stacked with their starting five, but that the bench could be starting on most prep squads. The players 9-10 deep will be on Big East and A-10 squads next year. Said that most starters for ND Prep could start on some Big East teams already. They are already men. I didn't doubt him. The jumping ability and quickness was incredible.
I didn't keep a box score on Lazar because I wanted to just enjoy the game. But be assured, this fellow is the real deal and you should believe all the things the experts are saying about him. But again, he seems like a fine young man. As Travis said of DWade, "he is a better person than he is basketball player, if you can believe it" and it looks like this same Marquette tradition may be continued with Mr. Hayward.
Lazar Hayward vs The Patterson School
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