If there's ever been a time for Gordon Hayward to slow down, this would be it. The NBA has locked its doors. The Jazz's 2011-12 season is officially on pause. And while many players began the offseason with a bang, diving headfirst into their summer workout routines, some have already begun to scale back as they realize the league's lockout likely isn't going to end anytime soon. Not Hayward. The 21-year-old Jazz forward was a workaholic when the work stoppage began and he's still a workaholic more than a month into the lockout. While the NBA sleeps, Hayward pumps iron. And works on his ball-handling. And conditioning. And everything else that goes into the second-year player's five-days-a-week workout routine at St. Vincent Sports Performance in his birthplace of Indianapolis. "I'm blessed that they have all these huge facilities here, and the fact that I live here is just another bonus. I can stop by and then my mom is making dinner for me, so it works out well," said Hayward, who averaged 5.4 points last season while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 47.3 percent from behind the 3-point line in 72 games (17 starts). What a difference a year makes. Hayward was a skinny, unproven rookie this time last season. Burdened by the expectations that go hand in hand with being the No. 9 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Unsure of his future with the Jazz and acceptance by a devoted fan base that initially booed his name when it was called on draft night. A year later, the former Butler standout is one of Utah's brightest hopes as the rebuilding organization attempts to leave a lost 2010-11 season behind and move toward something bigger and better. Hayward embodies the work ethic that second-year coach Tyrone Corbin preaches, while everything from the young forward's untouched athletic ceiling to his fresh-eyed approach when dealing with admirers provides an organization that lacks a marketable face with a potential Salt Lake City star in the making. "He's just a terrific person," said agent Mark Bartlestein, who represents Hayward. "He's like the kid who grew up next door to you." Hayward's humility and kindness are refreshing. But Bartlestein said that Hayward is ultimately separated by his passion for the game that he gets paid to play. Other NBA athletes are faster, stronger and possess more innate basketball talent. But few outwork Hayward, and even fewer share his single-minded devotion to personal improvement.
Work just beginning for Jazz's Gordon Hayward during NBA lockout
Salt Lake Tribune | Aug 2