During my visit to Gordon Hayward's hometown, the Jazz forward's parents graciously detailed his life story from before birth yes, starting with the ultrasound exam that revealed twins so there's more to share beyond the version that appeared online and in print Friday at http://bit.ly/xzo87N.
Among the leftover highlights, in advance of Hayward's appearance tonight in the NBA's Rising Stars Challenge:
• When coach Joshua Kendrick took over the Brownsburg High School basketball program prior to Hayward's freshman year, he discussed modest goals during his first team meeting. That night, he received an email from Hayward, who wrote, "Let's win a state championship." Hayward was not even a varsity player that season, but the Bulldogs won the Class 4A title in his senior season.
• Before a game in Indianapolis, Kendrick and his assistants walked into the locker room, where the players were arguing basically, a case of Hayward vs. everybody else. The subject: the Venturi effect of physics. His teammates complained that Hayward was wrong, but he would not back down. "He's the most stubborn I've ever met, for the right reasons," Kendrick said.
• Karen Starkey, who coached Hayward and his sister, Heather, in high school tennis, believes he would have become a Division I college player in that sport and possibly gone on to a pro career. She compares him to 6-foot-9 pro John Isner, with a big serve-and-volley game. Basketball coaches have always told Hayward to be more aggressive. "In tennis, thank heaven, I never had to say that," Starkey said.
• The twins participated in the Bulldogs' Athletic Ambassadors program, visiting a third-grade classroom each month. Last fall, Hayward spoke to the current Ambassadors. He acknowledged his lack of credibility as "an unemployed dropout" during the NBA lockout, having left Butler University after two years.
• Gordon and Heather Hayward share many personality traits, but punctuality is not one of them. One day when the twins were late for an Ambassadors meeting, Starkey predicted how they would respond upon arrival. Sure enough, Heather rushed in frantically and Gordon sauntered in behind her, relatively unconcerned.
• In the lobby of Hinkle Fieldhouse, Butler's historical landmark, a display of Bulldog history includes a small photo of Hayward driving vs. Duke in the 2010 NCAA championship game. More prominent is a recruiting letter from legendary coach Tony Hinkle to Bobby Plump, who led Milan High School to the 1954 state championship and is immortalized in "Hoosiers." The letter reads in part, "We have a swell school and I know you will be satisfied here."
• Butler center Garrett Butcher, Hayward's roommate for two years, remembers going to class one day as a freshman and coming back four hours later to find Hayward still on the couch, having eaten a big bag of potato chips and played video games the entire time. This, from a future Academic All-American. Butcher also recalls late nights when Hayward would keep him awake, asking question after question about all kinds of subjects. And the Bulldogs practiced at 6:30 a.m. daily. Butcher would have to cut him him off: "Yo, we've got to get up at 5 for practice."
• Having formerly included all schools in the state tournament, Indiana moved to classifications of basketball in 1998. Ten years later, Hayward's Brownsburg team won the championship of 4A, the highest level. Washington High's Tyler Zeller, now of North Carolina, was named "Mr. Basketball" in Indiana after scoring 47 points in the 3A title game.