Picturesque Motivation

A couple of inches off on his 3-point jumper made Whitmer (OH) junior forward Nigel Hayes believe he missed out on his first state championship. With the way he is working this summer, Hayes is determined to not miss on his next opportunity.

MADISON - After roughly 13 points and 10 rebounds for Whitmer (Ohio) HS, Nigel Hayes was one of the main reasons his high school team went 24-3 a season ago.

Registering an impressive 18 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists in the state semifinals, the 6-7, 200-pound junior forward was one of the main reasons his team was making its fourth state championship finals appearance in school history.

He's also the reason, in his eyes, why his school didn't bring home the crown.

"I still remember the shot as clear as day," Hayes told Badger Nation. "I missed a wide-open three that would have given us control of the game."

Instead Whitmer lost 45-40 to Pickerington Central in the Division 1 title game, and Hayes found his motivation for what he calls a brutal offseason of training.

"Since the Monday following our loss, I've been working on my game to take advantage of those opportunities," Hayes said. "I wanted to get better in my transition from a four to a three, which I think is what I am going to play in college."

His workouts include extending his shooting range, working on his ball handling to take advantage of mismatches and fine tuning his touch to knock open those 3-point jumpers. When he stepped into the high school gym at Mequon Homestead with his AAU All-Ohio Red teammates earlier this spring for a NY2LA Tournament, Hayes could already see the hours in his game starting to pay off.

"I felt more of a difference with my confidence because I was hesitant to shoot the ball at times last year," said Hayes, who says his defense and rebounding are his best assets. "I wasn't really confident in it, but now I know I can hit the shots. It's really opened up my game."

It's started to open up his recruitment, too, especially with the University of Wisconsin. With the Badgers having plenty of scholarships available for the 2013 class and on, the Badgers started showing interest in Hayes this past season when assistant coach Lamont Paris attended a couple of his games.

According to Hayes, Paris told Hayes that Wisconsin plans to offer him in the coming weeks.

"We became real close," said Hayes of Paris. "We've been talking on the phone a lot lately and he told me that they were going to offer me. He wants me to come to visit and everything. It really is a great relationship because it's like two buddies who just talk on the phone."

Hayes has never visited the University of Wisconsin but plans to visit the campus sometime the future.

"I don't know a lot about the Badgers, but I watch them on the Big Ten Network and I have read all the letters they send me," said Hayes. "I know they are building a good history and coach Bo Ryan is a winning coach. He can really develop his players, and I know from watching them that they are a good school."

In addition to Wisconsin, Hayes claims offers from Butler, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Dayton, La Salle, Toledo and Xavier. He says the Badgers, Toledo and Xavier are the schools recruiting him the hardest, but hasn't named a leader heading into a crucial July evaluation period.

"It's exciting and a lot of people are telling me to enjoy because it'll only happen once in my lifetime," said Hayes.

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