Gordon Daniel Hayward (born March 23, 1990) is an American professional basketball player for the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball at Butler University for two seasons where he led his team to a runner-up finish in the 2010 NCAA Tournament his sophomore season.
When Hayward first emerged as a star at the World U-19s, and agents started leaving messages with his parents, they expressed both surprise and concern. His father felt unprepared for the process of counseling his son through the draft process, while his mother felt that their son was not yet spiritually ready to handle the temptations of the NBA and was not convinced that he was good enough to play in the league. Eventually, his parents decided that his father would learn about the draft and his mother would “put it in the Lord’s hands and pray about it”. While his father talked with agents and other players who had left early, Butler coach Brad Stevens talked with NBA scouts and general managers; both eventually came to the conclusion that Gordon Hayward was projected as a top-20 pick in the 2010 NBA draft even before Butler’s NCAA tournament run. As his parents left Lucas Oil Stadium after the NCAA final, they had one final exchange regarding their son’s basketball future. His mother said, “If God wanted him to go to the NBA, he would have hit the shot,” but his father responded, “What else is he going to do, get Butler all the way back to the final and hit the shot?” Ironically, Butler did reach the national championship the following year, but lost to the Connecticut Huskies.
He was selected by the Utah Jazz with the ninth overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft. Hayward played in 72 games during his rookie season with the Utah Jazz, averaging 5.4 points per game and shooting 47 percent from three-point range. Early in the season, he played sparingly for the Jazz, but he earned more minutes later in the year and responded with strong play in the team’s last few games. He outplayed Kobe Bryant in Utah’s upset of the Los Angeles Lakers on April 5, 2011 making several clutch plays in the final minutes of an 86–85 victory. Hayward finished with 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, and his defense forced Bryant into a terrible performance (7 turnovers and just 6-of-18 shooting from the floor). Hayward finished the season with a 34-point game, a career high at the time, in a 107–103 win over the Denver Nuggets on April 13.
On February 8, 2012, Hayward was selected to play in the 2012 Rising Stars Challenge. He was drafted to play for Team Chuck. In the game, Hayward recorded 14 points as Team Chuck won the game.
On January 9, 2016, Hayward scored a season-high 34 points in a 98–83 win over the Miami Heat. He topped that mark on January 18, scoring 36 points in a 124–119 double overtime loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
Career highlights and awards
Horizon League Player of the Year (2010)
2× First-team All-Horizon League (2009, 2010)
Horizon League Newcomer of the Year (2009)
Men’s basketball Competitor for the United States
U-19 World Championship
Gold medal – first place 2009 New Zealand Team