Former Cincinnati high school stars Jaxson Hayes and Darius Bazley could be first-round NBA picks tonight

Moeller's Hayes is sure thing; Princeton's Bazley is question mark
Posted at 5:01 PM, Jun 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-21 14:14:19-04

CINCINNATI — Two former Cincinnati high school basketball sensations could become first-round NBA draft choices Thursday night with all of the fame and fortune that goes with it.

Former Moeller star Jaxson Hayes, a 6-11 forward, is a sure thing. The mock drafts make Hayes the No. 9 pick (Wizards) or No. 10 (Hawks) after being named Big 12 Freshman of the Year at the University of Texas.

Princeton’s Darius Bazley, a 6-9 forward, is a question mark after making the controversial decision to sit out the 2018-19 season. The 2018 Princeton grad committed to Syracuse, then decided to play in the NBA G-League. But his agent had him forego the G-League and work out on his own.

Nevertheless, the ESPN and Sporting News mock drafts have Bazley as the 29th pick (Spurs). That would make him the second-last pick in the first round. Other mocks see Bazley as a high second-rounder.

Under the NBA’s rookie salary scale, Hayes stands to get a three-year deal worth more than $10 million - roughly $10.6 million as the No. 9 pick or $10.1 million as No. 10.

Bazley would get about $4.4 million for three years as the 29th pick.

The two-round draft begins at 7 p.m. (ESPN) from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Hayes, a late bloomer who didn't start a varsity game at Moeller until his senior year, will become the first Moeller graduate to play in the NBA. The 19-year-old received a prestigious invitation to the green room on draft night, which is reserved for players expected to go early.

“It’s really cool; obviously just being able to the NBA Draft is every kid’s dream,” Hayes told WCPO earlier this month. “It’s obviously really exciting, but at the same time you have to stay humble.”

As the area’s fourth lottery pick since the NBA started its current system in 1985, Hayes would join an elite group including Franklin's Luke Kennard (2017), North College Hill's OJ Mayo (2008) and Georgetown's Brian Grant (1994).

RELATED: Join the Cincinnati area high school sports Facebook group

Hayes averaged 10.1 points and 5.0 rebounds for the Longhorns (21-16) this season and ranked first in field goal percentage in the Big 12 at 72.8%. He was third in the conference in blocked shots (2.2 bpg).

He wasn’t considered a one-and-done candidate when he verbally committed to the Longhorns in September 2017. There was even discussion about Hayes being red-shirted. By January 2019, Moeller coach Carl Kremer had begun to receive phone calls from NBA teams.

“It’s just an amazing thing,” Kremer said.

As a senior, Hayes led Moeller to its fourth state basketball title in March 2018. He had 14 points, six rebounds and three blocks in the state final win over Solon in Columbus.

Bazley made national headlines last spring when he announced his decision to forgo a Syracuse scholarship and enter the NBA G League. Later, the 6-foot-9 forward decided to skip the G League.

Princeton coach Steve Wright told WCPO Tuesday he expected Bazley would be selected in the first round. He said he had a conversation with an Eastern Conference head coach Monday night about Bazley.

Here’s the first-round draft order:

1. New Orleans

2. Memphis

3. New York

4. New Orleans (from LA Lakers)

5. Cleveland

6. Phoenix

7. Chicago

8. Atlanta

9. Washington

10. Atlanta (from Dallas)


12. Charlotte

13. Miami

14. Boston (from Sacramento via Philadelphia)

15. Detroit

16. Orlando

17. Brooklyn

18. Indiana

19. San Antonio

20. Boston (from LA Clippers via Memphis)

21. Oklahoma City

22. Boston

23. Utah

24. Philadelphia

25. Portland

26. Cleveland (from Houston)

27. Brooklyn (from Denver)

28. Golden State

29. San Antonio (from Toronto)

30. Milwaukee