He will discuss his future with his parents, as well as the Longhorns coaching staff, “soon.”
But Hayes made it clear he feels he’s ready to play at the next level if he chooses that route.
“I feel like if I were to make the jump, I feel like I’d be good,” Hayes said after Texas won the NIT championship on Thursday night.
“I’d just play my game. I have a lot of confidence in myself.”
Hayes is a projected lottery pick in the upcoming draft, which would make it difficult to return to school. His teammates would certainly understand if he bolts for the NBA.
“For me, if you have a chance to change your life that tremendously, there’s no point in staying,” sophomore guard Jase Febres said. “That’s just my input. I feel that’d be selfish to tell him to stay when he has an opportunity in front of him.”
For Hayes, it’s a decision that will be finalized in the coming days.
The deadline to request an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee is next Thursday, something that Hayes could explore if he wants confirmation of his draft stock.
By requesting an evaluation, Hayes would be able to hire an NCAA-certified agent to “test the waters” in the pre-draft process.
Asked about that possibility, Hayes said: “I’m not sure yet. I still have to talk with my parents.”
Hayes’ stock is fairly well known at this point. There aren’t many 6-foot-11 players with his athleticism.
Hayes developed into a strong post presence for the Longhorns, averaging 10 points, five rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. He was named the Big 12’s freshman of the year.
Hayes injured his left knee in a Big 12 tournament game against Kansas last month, but there was no structural damage. He is expected to make a full recovery, but that injury sidelined him during Texas’ NIT run.
Still, watching from the bench didn’t take away from the joy Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
“I was extremely happy,” Hayes said. “I’m just happy to watch my guys play their best. I’m happy the seniors got to go out with a championship.”
Hayes may be leaving with them. He’ll have no regrets if he does call it a college career.
“I feel like throughout my whole college career so far, I’ve grown as a player, as a man too,” Hayes said. “It was just a great, great experience my freshman year. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”
Hayes smiled and said: “Maybe the injury at the end. Besides that, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”