Gordon Daniel Hayward (born March 23, 1990) is an American professional basketball player for the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
He played college basketball at Butler University for two seasons where he led his team to a runner-up finish in the 2010 NCAA Tournament his sophomore season. He was selected by the Utah Jazz with the ninth overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft. Hayward was named an NBA All-Star for the first time in 2017.
Early years and high school
Hayward attended Brownsburg High School in Brownsburg, Indiana. As a senior in the 2007–08 season, Hayward was named first team All-State and led Brownsburg to the Indiana Class 4A state championship. In the 4A state title game, Hayward hit the game-winning layup at the buzzer to defeat Marion High School 40–39. Hayward averaged 18.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game as a senior.
Hayward's unusual skill set was largely the result of his father's misconception about his future growth. Gordon Scott Hayward, Hayward's father, is 5'10" (1.78 m). Hayward's mother, Jody, is the same height. According to sports commentator Pat Forde, Hayward's father "continually pushed his son to develop a guard's skill set," believing he was destined to be of average size. Forde refers to Hayward as "The guy who learned how to play like a guard but now has the size of a power forward."
Hayward's first appearance in the sports pages was not in basketball, but in tennis. Hayward and his twin sister, Heather, were featured in a regional edition of the Indianapolis Star when they played mixed doubles together at the Indiana State Open in 2005. Heather had already played #1 singles for her high school team, and Gordon would follow in his sister's footsteps the next year. At the time, they hoped to attend Purdue University, their parents' alma mater. Although Hayward's first love was basketball, he would later recall, "I looked at the future and figured playing basketball in college wasn't realistic." In fact, as a 5'11" (1.80 m) freshman, he seriously considered quitting basketball entirely to focus on tennis; his mother persuaded him to stay with the sport one more year.
The twins' plans changed when the younger Hayward underwent an unexpected growth spurt. He shot up to 6'4" as a sophomore and two years after he almost abandoned basketball, he had grown to 6'7" (2.01 m); he reached 6'8" (2.03 m) as a senior, and reportedly added another inch at Butler (though the NBA lists him at 6'8"). He would soon have profiles on recruiting websites in both tennis and basketball. Gordon ultimately received three scholarship offers: one from nearby IUPUI, another from Purdue, and one from Butler. Ultimately he chose Butler because the Bulldogs' 6:30 am practices would not interfere with his planned major of computer engineering, and because Heather would be able to play tennis there. While he verbally committed to Butler as a junior, he skipped AAU basketball during the following summer because he wanted to put in enough tennis practice to contend for a state high school title in his senior year. He had a 26–3 record in singles that year, but lost in the state tournament.
Hayward unexpectedly made an instant impact in his freshman year (2008–09). Butler had lost four starters from a 30-win season and were picked fifth in the Horizon League. However, the Bulldogs went 26–5 and won the Horizon League. Hayward averaged 13.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and was named Horizon Newcomer of the Year and first team All-Conference.
In the offseason, Hayward was selected to Team USA for the FIBA Under-19 World Cup in Auckland, New Zealand. Playing for Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon, Hayward was a surprise star for the Championship squad, averaging 10 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. At the conclusion of the tournament, Hayward was named to the "All-Star Five" of the event, along with teammate Tyshawn Taylor.
After raising his profile in the FIBA tournament, Hayward was named to numerous preseason All-America teams, and was a preseason candidate for the Wooden Award and the Naismith Award prior to the 2009–10 NCAA Division I men's basketball season. He was also named preseason All-Horizon League.
During the 2009–10 season, Hayward was the only player to finish in the Horizon League's top five in both scoring and rebounding; he was also in the league's top 10 in field goal percentage, free throw percentage, blocked shots, offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding (in which he led the league), and minutes per game. At the end of the regular season, he was named the Horizon League Player of the Year. Hayward was also named a third-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American. In the NCAA Tournament, Hayward was named the MVP of the West Region as he led Butler to the National Championship game. In the championship game against Duke, he barely missed a game-winning, buzzer-beating, half-court shot, which hit the backboard and rim, and would have given Butler its first NCAA championship.
Leaving for the NBA
When Hayward first emerged as a star at the World U-19s, and agents started leaving messages with his parents, they expressed both surprise and concern. His father felt not ready for the process of counseling his son through the draft process, while his mother felt that their son was not yet spiritually ready to handle the temptations of the NBA and was not convinced that he was good enough to play in the league. Eventually, his parents decided that his father would learn about the draft and his mother would "put it in the Lord's hands and pray about it". While his father talked with agents and other players who had left early, Butler coach Brad Stevens talked with NBA scouts and general managers; both eventually came to the conclusion that Gordon Hayward was projected as a top-20 pick in the 2010 NBA draft even before Butler's NCAA tournament run. As his parents left Lucas Oil Stadium after the NCAA final, they had one final exchange regarding their son's basketball future. His mother said, "If God wanted him to go to the NBA, he would have hit the shot," but his father responded, "What else is he going to do, get Butler all the way back to the final and hit the shot?" Coincidentally, Butler did reach the national championship game the following year, but lost to the Connecticut Huskies.
On April 14, 2010, Hayward's father confirmed to the Indianapolis Star that his son would submit his name for consideration in the 2010 draft, but he would not immediately hire an agent. While the younger Hayward was dividing his time between his final examinations and physical preparation, his father created a highly detailed two-page questionnaire that he gave to prospective agents. Mark Bartelstein, who survived his father's grilling and became Gordon Hayward's agent, would later say, "It was the most incredibly thorough process I've been through in 25 years. His parents didn't want to leave any stone unturned."
Hayward had until May 8 to withdraw from the draft and retain his college eligibility. However, on the day before the withdrawal deadline, he announced that he would stay in the draft and give up his remaining college eligibility. At the time he announced for the draft, he was widely expected to be selected in the top 20 picks, and that assessment did not change before the deadline. When announcing that he was leaving for the NBA, Hayward said that he planned to eventually complete his degree. On June 24, 2010, Hayward was selected as the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft by the Utah Jazz. His hometown team, the Indiana Pacers, selected just one pick later but Hayward seemed happy about going to Utah. In an interview with Craig Sager he remarked "I know the players there (in Utah) play hard. That's what's going to be expected of me." Regarding not being drafted by the Pacers: "I'm just excited to go where I've gone. It was a dream to play for the Pacers growing up, but I think it was a dream of all little boys in Indiana. Just because you grew up watching them. But it was also a dream to play in the NBA. To be able to put on that Utah Jazz jersey will be something very special." Despite having needs in the front court, the Jazz picked Hayward for his athleticism, ball handling skills, and versatility. Both Kevin O'Connor and Jerry Sloan commented that Hayward was a "very smart player that knew the game really well."
Former Youth Teams
Former Senior Teams
Former Club Staff