Overview: An undersized power forward who knows how to throw his weight around and make an impact despite his size. Has a 6-10 wingspan, but is severely undersized at 6-7. Possesses more than adequate strength and displays great toughness and durability. Uses leverage extremely well to fight for position in the paint. Shows an unorthodox jumper, and thankfully doesnt use it often. Has one of the leagues most awkward looking strokes from the free throw line, complete with an awful hitch, and sub-50% averages to boot. Primarily a hustle guy offensively and defensively. Gets by on his basketball IQ and rebounding ability. Could put some points on the board with his back to the basket during his career at Kentucky. Plays an efficient offensive game and defensive game. Wont go off on any given night, but doesnt take plays off either. Doesnt make mistakes, and is a solid passer. Understands his role. Brings some nice things to the table for the Rockets considering his contract. Offensive role decreased considerably in 07/08.
Offense: Doesnt take many shots. Gets more than half of his offense by being active off the ball for cuts to the basket. Gets another fifth from offensive rebounds. Really doesnt get any touches in the normal flow of the offense. Doesnt take almost any jumpers. Has an awkward looking stroke that he shoots on a line drive on the way down. Pretty poor from the line. Not much of a ball handler either. Will only dribble if he has a wide open lane to the rim. Great at getting position for offensive rebounds. Always moving. Doesnt turn the ball over often. Sets great screens with a very wide base. Purely a complimentary offensive player. Isnt asked to do anything else.
Defense: A great hustle defender who manages to be effective despite his size. Has a very hard time covering taller players in the post. Will give everything hes got to deny entry passes, and is terrific at coming up with steals. Uses leverage and great overall strength to push his man off the block. Goes straight up when his man goes to make a move. Will commit some fouls when rotating over in help side and when hes beat. Wont block many shots from the weakside. Gets most of his rejections by keeping his hands up and maintaining good position. Stays on his feet when his man tries to fake him into the air. Great at boxing out. Has excellent timing and smarts. Wont get outrebounded despite his size. Provides great energy, but isnt able to push his man around for the duration of a game.
Defense, defense and defense. Hayes was named the 2004 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, no small feat for an undersized power forward. Often asked to guard the opponent's best big man (whether he was 6'5" or 7'0"), Hayes could be counted on to lock down his man.
The beefy former Wildcat is also a rebounding machine who uses brawn to fight for loose balls and is effective at tipping the ball until he can get his mitts on it firmly. Hayes is also a surprisingly good shot-blocker for his size. In fact, Hayes left Kentucky in the top ten in rebounds and blocked shots.
Tubby Smith's system at UK turned Hayes into a superior interior passer, which could help elevate his draft stock tremendously. Hayes also developed excellent slashing skills, often finding ways to sneak the ball into the basket under or around bigger defenders.
Finally, Hayes is a leader. While the leadership angle is often overlooked at the pro level, ask the Warriors about having leaders. Ask the Hornets if they need a leader. There is a place in the NBA for guys who put teams on their backs. Whether Hayes can do that is unknown, but he's got the heart, if nothing else.
If Hayes were a legit 6'9", he'd probably be among the top draft prospects. But he's not that big and he's not among the top draft prospects.
Were Hayes as athletic as Charles Barkley, he might be able to compensate for his lack of size with leaping ability. But he isn't that athletic, so he has to use positioning and guts to get the job done. Positioning and guts work a lot better against Vanderbilt than they do against the Knicks, unfortunately.
Hayes also developed a hitch in his jump shot, shooting the ball on the way down from his jump. PJ Brown has this a little bit, but Hayes is not as effective a shooter as Brown by any stretch right now.
Because of his size, Hayes is prone to getting blocked from behind by taller players, something that plagued him at Kentucky.
The truth about Hayes hurts because he's the type of kid you want to succeed -- like Shane Battier from Duke or Lonny Baxter of Maryland. But unlike those guys, Hayes is a power forward trapped in a smaller man's body and only through massive effort can the much-beloved Wildcat overcome his natural deficiencies.
Simply put, Hayes competed at the highest level a player can in college. Week in and week out, the SEC and non-conference teams he played against came at him, trying to knock the usually-favored Wildcats off their perch. But Hayes was instrumental in making Kentucky the winningest in college basketball (win total-wise) over his four years.
Hayes tied the Kentucky record for consecutive starts in a career.
Hayes' long career at UK garnered him enough attention to merit an invite to Portsmouth, and a trip to Chicago would be a plus for the tweener big man.
Hayes has no shot of being taken in the first round and may suffer from "college-itis" (scouts know him too well) when it comes to getting picked in the second round, too.
But Hayes gives 110% all the time, and should warrant some free agent interest or make a summer league roster or two. If he brings the effort and intangibles he brought to UK, he could end up having a pro career.
There is a pretty good chance, however, that his pro career is in Turkey or Sweden, etc.
There should be more guys like Chuck Hayes in the NBA. If there were, you wouldn't see brawls in the stands, drug arrests off the court or guys beating their girlfriends up.
Hayes is a straight-shooter, a class act and a coach's dream. His athletic skills might not be world-class, but his heart is and counting the undersized forward out would be a mistake.
Hayes ranks 7th all-time at Kentucky in rebounds (910), 35th all-time in points (1211), 8th in steals (169), and 9th in blocked shots (128).
The MVP of the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, after leading his team to the tournament title.