Hayward Heads Home to Play Pacers

By J.M. Nicholas

Last season, when Utah Jazz rookie guard (and former Butler Bulldog) Gordan Hayward traveled to Indiana to play the Pacers for the first time, there were more fans there to see him than the home team. That night, Conseco Fieldhouse was overrun with Butler shirts and homemade Hayward Jazz jerseys. The rookie didn’t play many minutes in the game, but his mere presence back in his home state brought electricity to the air.

Hayward grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana and attended Brownsburg High School, only a few miles from Indianapolis. In his senior year, he led the team to the Class 4A state championship. He went on to attend Butler, helping the Bulldogs reach the NCAA Final Four and the National Championship game during the 2009-10 season.

After coming within a heartbeat of giving Butler University their first ever NCAA championship, Hayward decided to enter the NBA Draft. Rumors spread that Indiana, who had the tenth overall pick in the 2010 draft, may very well have taken the hometown hero. The Pacers where never offered that opportunity, as the Jazz swept up the 6’8” guard with the ninth pick overall. Hayward was the first Bulldog selected in the NBA Draft since 1950.

On Tuesday, the Jazz will make their one and only trip to Indiana this season. The response and hometown love for Hayward proves to be much the same. Now in his second season, Hayward has moved into Utah’s starting lineup. He is averaging nine points, three rebounds, and three assists per game.

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