Jalen Hayes profile

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“When I came here for my visit I felt like I was around family.”

By Scott Davis

Men’s basketball player Jalen Hayes is adapting to a new role this year after being diagnosed with mononucleosis last season and being forced to redshirt.

HOOPS AND DREAMS

The 6’7”, 211-pound forward hails from Lansing, Michigan, where he went to Sexton High School. He won four district titles, three regional championships and lead his team to two Class B state championships. He was named Lansing player of the year by the Lansing State Journal and was even on the all-state first team.

After finishing his high school career, Hayes had many options for where he could play collegiate basketball, including Akron, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan. He chose Oakland for a variety of reasons, including the school’s academic reputation and how he fit into the basketball program. However, Hayes said that it was more than just that.

“Most importantly was that I felt like I was really comfortable here, when I came here for my visit I felt like I was around family,” Hayes said.

BECOMING A GRIZZLY

Going into his freshman season, Hayes thought he was going to have a big role and be able to make an impact on the team, but then he was diagnosed with mononucleosis. He lost close to 30 pounds and was not physically ready to play in the team’s preseason games.

After going to the hospital and being sidelined for two weeks, he and coach  Greg Kampe decided that it was best to redshirt him for the whole season and rest him for the next season.

Not playing in his freshman year gave Hayes the opportunity to adjust to the college game, both on and off the court.

“It just gave me the opportunity to get more acclimated to the system. This year I wanted to focus on playing that significant role I could have played last year,” Hayes said. “Coach Kampe has a lot of trust in me to play my game and it has been working.”

STARTING STRONG

Hayes is averaging five points and four rebounds in just over 17 minutes per game. He has scored 16 points twice, against Valparaiso and Pittsburgh, and played 37 minutes while scoring 13 against Maryland.

The team had a tough non-conference schedule to start the year, but Hayes thinks that it has only made the team stronger, especially as they head into league play.

“I don’t think this team has a ceiling,” Hayes said. “We can do a lot with this team if we stay committed to the principles and to what we are supposed to do; I feel like this team can not only win the league, but make a run in the NCAA tournament.”