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Thursday, April 15, 2010
Will Gordon Hayward be back?

By Eamonn Brennan

Other than perhaps Kyle Singler and Greg Monroe, Gordon Hayward was the one big name in college basketball who hadn't declared, one way or the other, whether he was going to declare. Would he stay for another year and go back at the title with Butler? Or take his skyrocketing NBA draft stock and run? The answer, as of late yesterday, is -- drum roll, please -- we don't know.

Hayward is doing what so many others in this class have done: He's testing the NBA waters without hiring an agent.

You know the drill here: Hayward will get out there, get a feel for how much NBA teams love him, do a few workouts, and then decide by the draft deadline whether or not he really wants to do this. The difference for Hayward is that there is a lot riding on a few draft spots. The Butler forward is currently a first-round lock, according to Chad Ford, which means he could go anywhere from the late lottery to late in the first round. Which means he could earn as much as, say, a No. 12 pick -- $1.63M in 2009-10's NBA rookie scale. Or, if he's drafted late in the first round -- say, No. 25 overall -- could earn as little as $900,000.

The question Butler fans might ask is whether that disparity would be enough to bring Hayward back for another year. If you can get in the lottery, great. You almost have to go for it. But if you're a low first-round pick, and you have Gordon Hayward's talent, and you think you can come back for a junior year and top yourself, do you do it?

There's also this to consider: Hayward's father, Gordon Sr., has been told that his son will be selected between Nos. 10 and 20 in the draft and likewise revealed that his son has received so many requests and prayers from Butler fans that he had to take down his Facebook page:
"He's pretty solid 10 to 20," Gordon Sr. said. "It's not an easy decision disappointing all the great and wonderful Butler fans, if it turns out that way."

In other words, it sounds like Hayward is intent on seeing this NBA thing through. He's not just testing for testing's sake. At the same time, if he doesn't hear good things in the between today and the draft deadline, he still has his amateur status and a loaded Butler team to welcome him back. That, my friends, is a win-win.