Potential lottery pick, Texas center Jaxson Hayes, declares for NBA draft

AP Photo/Eric Gay

Jonathan Hayes spent 12 seasons in the NFL as a tight end with the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers. So, of course his son took up football.

But when Jaxson Hayes hit a growth spurt, he shifted his attention to basketball.

Now, that’s going to pay off in a big way.

Texas release:

University of Texas freshman forward Jaxson Hayes has declared for the 2019 NBA Draft and will hire an agent, the school announced Thursday.

A few years ago, Hayes might have been one of the most-coveted draft prospects. Now? He’s probably headed closer to the back half of the lottery.

Hayes is a non-shooting/non-playmaking center entering a league crowded with good centers, in part because skill is getting emphasized over size. The shift reduces his marginal value.

Still, Hayes should fit in the modern game. He’s 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, mobility, tremendous leaping ability and great hands. He’s a fantastic above-the-rim finisher in the pick-and-roll.

Hayes needs teammates to create shots for him. He’s not much of a post-up threat. But the way he runs the floor, he generates plenty of opportunities to get set up.

He’s is also a prolific shot-blocker. But he has yet to strike the right balance between chasing blocks and avoiding fouls, defensively rebounding.

The biggest question: How deep into the draft until teams want a limited center, even one who looks as potentially effective as Hayes?