Ready to fly: ’Hawks net IHS’ Hayes

Ignacio guard Wyatt Hayes envisions his next move once his feet make contact with the Norwood High School Gymnasium floor during SJBL road action this past season. Hayes will next play for, and study at NCAA Division II Fort Lewis College.
Ignacio guard Wyatt Hayes effortlessly spins a ball on his fingertips outside the gymnasium he and his fellow Bobcats helped pack, game in and game out, for four years. Hayes will next play for, and study at NCAA Division II Fort Lewis College.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Guard staying local, going Div. II

The type of ’baller he wants to be remembered as, will be the type his new team – whose coaches never had far to drive to scout him and size him up – can’t wait to welcome. As well as the type he’ll have to be as Ignacio High School’s latest collegiate talent bound for ‘Colorado’s Campus in the Sky.’

“Just being an all-around player,” said Wyatt Hayes, barely 36 hours before graduating inside the gymnasium he’d helped pack and thrill, game after game, for four years. “I had a lot of steals, a lot of rebounds – I wasn’t just scoring. And if my scoring wasn’t going I’d try to create for other people – just an all-around player.”

Recognized as CHSAA’s all-classification career steals leader with 407, as well as the single-season swipes king with 146, the reigning 2A/1A San Juan Basin League Player-of-the-Year was officially announced (on Thursday, June 2) by Durango-based Fort Lewis College as part of its men’s basketball recruiting class of 2016.

“Fort Lewis just seemed like a good fit for me … and that’s where I ended up committing!” he said.

Hayes, however, had sensed the NCAA Division II school would be his destination long, long before.

“I started going off to their individual camps when I was in, like, fourth grade?” he recalled.“And when I got into fifth I got moved up to the middle-school division – which is, like, seventh and eighth grade – and when I was a seventh-grader I got moved up to the high-school division. So then, [FLC then-assistant] Coach (Bob) Pietrack … we kind of met and started talking, and at the team camps over the summers they started telling me that if I keep working hard there’s a chance I can get a scholarship. And I ended up getting one!”

“It’s like seventy-five percent, but you get yearly increases if you’re doing well,” Hayes noted. “So the goal is, by my junior or senior year, to be on a full ride.”

“We have been able to watch Wyatt grow up over the years,” said Pietrack, set to begin his second season at the Skyhawks’ helm after taking over for icon Bob Hofman, and still shown in the CHSAA Boys’ Basketball Record Book as ranking third in career assists (702, with Gypsum Eagle Valley from 1995-99), and fourth in single-season helpers (229 in ’97-98).

“Wyatt is a tremendous student and player. He is the exact type of young man we want in our program.”

Still with an appearance in the upcoming 60th Annual Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State Games (June 8-11, at Adams State University in Alamosa) on his prep-level plate, Hayes was one of six cagers – and one of three true freshmen – signing a National Letter-of-Intent to attend and hoop for FLC in the 2016-17 year.

And the rest, now with a new chapter being written, is history.

“He was, hands down, the best basketball player in the Four Corners region the past couple of seasons. He had a storybook career at Ignacio High School and we have always made it a priority to keep local players,” said Pietrack. “It will be fun to continue to see Wyatt develop in our program.”

“They have the best coaches you could ask for – Coach Pietrack, Coach Danny (Steffensen) – and it’ll be cool to play for the area, Durango and everything,” said Hayes, who declined a possible hook-up with Westminster (Utah) College through Telluride boss and former Griffin Stefan Reiter. “I just like Fort Lewis; it’s a cool place.”

“Ignacio has great fans and they’ve all told me that they’re going to go watch me play … I can’t wait!”

TAKE ’EM AT THEIR WORD

Also credited with scoring over 1,200 points at IHS, Hayes’ aforementioned steals totals may not be appearing in the CHSAA Boys’ Basketball Record Book anytime soon.

Viewed in its online form on June 3, there are actually no individual career and single-season leaders yet categorized, but only single-quarter steals and single-game steals – former Bobcat Pedro Vigil’s 11-theft work Dec. 15, 2009, for example, is apparently tied for sixth-most – as well as team single-season and single-game counts.

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