Nigel Hayes, the University of Wisconsin’s former star forward, has signed his first full NBA contract with the Sacramento Kings.
The contract is for the last six games of this year, as well as the upcoming 2018-19 season. He left his mark as a Badger as the third-highest scorer of all time, averaging 12.4 points a game.
After graduating in 2016, he went undrafted and played for the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Toronto Raptors. He played for the Raptors 905 and the Westchester Knicks — Toronto and New York’s respective G-League teams, respectively — before being picked up by the Kings in late March.
The Sacramento Kings have had a very lackluster season (25-53), ranking themselves last in their conference. They, like many of their fellow conference bottom-dwellers, are seemingly positioning themselves for the best shot at a top pick in a loaded 2018 draft class.
With Zach Randolph as the lead scorer, averaging 14.5 points a game, they don’t have many standout players to dominate the game. Bringing Hayes in will be a great addition, adding more young talent to a team that already counts Buddy Hield (University of Oklahoma) and Frank Mason III (University of Kansas) among their ranks. Hayes will be a fresh and welcome face for the Sacramento team.
During his time playing for the NBA’s G-League, Hayes averaged 15 points a game, higher than his time at Wisconsin. He also started in 35 of 43 games, proving his abilities to teams looking to call up players from the developmental league.
While on his 10-day contracts with both the Raptors and the Lakers, he played in two contests for each team. Although only getting a few minutes in each game, he took advantage of his time on the court and showed his appreciation for being in the league.
Only up from here. #DreamsDoComeTrue
— Nigel Hayes (@NIGEL_HAYES) January 22, 2018
While he didn’t accomplish much for his record that night, it was a proud moment for him and Wisconsin athletics.
The Kings were never in the running for making the playoffs this season, pushing them to recruit some newbies to strengthen the team. Because of Nigel Hayes’ size (6-foot-8 and 250 pounds), he has the defensive capabilities the Kings are missing. Not only can he defend, he can shoot a mean 3-pointer and snatches rebounds like it is nobody’s business. Though he didn’t get much recognition on teams like the Lakers and the Knicks, Sacramento seems like a perfect fit.
Hopefully, Hayes finds his home in Sacramento, taking his talent he proved at Wisconsin and showing it to the rest of the country. You can watch Hayes and the Kings take on the Phoenix Suns April 3 at 9 p.m. CT.