Gordon Hayward has been in the NBA for nearly an entire season, but the combination of his association with Butler University and another captivating NCAA Tournament run by the Bulldogs have put him in the spotlight more than anything he's done as a rookie.
Not that the Utah Jazz player minds.
Acting as Butler's unofficial ambassador/poster boy, the 21-year-old hot interview commodity has been featured during the NCAAs on interviews ranging from ESPN, to Yahoo Sports, to … you name the publication or TV/radio station.
"I've been talking about Butler for a while," Hayward said at Monday's practice. "It's fun being able to talk about them. It makes me proud that people want to talk about them."
Of course, if Hayward continues to play and progress the way he has been, media types will eventually switch the talking points and focus the attention on him instead of his hometown school.
A day after Hayward notched a career-high 19 points on Sacramento, his potential was gushed about by veteran teammates.
"Special" was one word center Al Jefferson used in describing the 6-foot-8 swingman, whose game is maturing despite his boyish looks. (Yes, Hayward almost looked like he could fit in at the high school where the Jazz practiced Monday.)
"He don't know how good he can be in this league," Jefferson said. "It's going to be scary. He's going to be real good."
And Hayward is going to be real good in many aspects of the game, 10-year NBA guard Earl Watson believes.
"I think Gordon is come into his own," Watson said.
Hayward also happens to have a fan in Oklahoma City. The talented guy who pumped up BYU's Jimmer Fredette for being the "best scorer in the world!" also thinks the Jazz have a talented youngster.
Teammates, opponents see improving Gordon Hayward as 'special'
The Deseret News | Apr 5