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Young Butler star must make difficult decision

Published March 27, 2010 11:16 pm

Sophomore Hayward must decide between the riches of the NBA or staying in college.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

This is the story of a young man facing a life-altering decision.

Gordon Hayward is a sophomore at Butler University. He is an accomplished student with a gift for playing basketball.

In the days ahead, Hayward will have to decide whether to stay in college or declare for the 2010 NBA Draft.

If he stays, Hayward will be the anchor one of the best teams in the country for another season or two, given the fact that Butler's three other top players are underclassmen.

If he leaves, Hayward will join the cold-hearted but well-paying world of pro basketball and, at the tender age of 20, put his carefree college days in the rear-view mirror.

If Hayward asked me, I'd tell him to stay.

Of course, I'm not the one turning down a chance to earn between $4 million and $6 million, which is what Hayward would be guaranteed if taken between No. 10 and No. 20 in the draft.

Most mock drafts list him as a late first-round pick, if he declares. But don't believe everything you read on the Internet.

While NBA personnel-types are prohibited from talking about college players before they declare, one told me Hayward would be a top-15 pick because he is 6-foot-9, he can play three positions and he's so competitive.

"Hayward is big-time," says Kansas State coach Frank Martin. "He's a matchup problem for everybody. Guys who are 6-8, 6-9 that can shoot it and drive the basket the way he drives it, it's a problem."

Suppose Hayward was the 15th pick in the draft.

According to the rookie salary scale, he would make $1.443 million next season, $1.551 million the following year and $1.658 million in 2013.

Another factor in this complicated equation: NBA labor strife.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires after next season. There are already indications that the negotiations between the league and the players will be contentious.

Many expect a lockout.

Many expect a scaled back salary structure, including the one for rookies.

Logically, it's another reason for Hayward to put his name into this year's draft.

If he waits to turn pro in 2011, there might not be a season. If there is, who knows how much money he'll lose if the owners get what they want?

After watching Hayward in the NCAA Tournament, I'd compare him to Detlef Schrempf, who spent 16 seasons in the NBA.

Schrempf averaged 13.9 points in his career. He played in 114 playoff games and was a three-time All-Star.

If Hayward comes close to those numbers, he will enjoy an outstanding career.

The only question, at this point, is when will it start?

luhm@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">luhm@sltrib.com