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Former Longhorn Has Bright Future with New Orleans Pelicans

Jaxon Hayes' best basketball days are still clearly ahead of him

There’s no shortage of excitement in New Orleans surrounding the Pelicans. A young core including Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and rookie sensation Zion Williamson has the Pelicans positioned only four games behind eighth seed Memphis with a clear chance to sneak into the 2019-2020 NBA playoffs. Behind the star headlines, the eighth overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft is quietly making a name for himself. Former Longhorn, Jaxon Hayes, who turned 20 just a couple days ago, has already established his presence in the association after averaging nearly eight points and four rebounds over 56 total games in his rookie campaign.

Pelicans writer Jim Eichenhofer recently got to know the Pelicans center, asking some off-the-court questions.

Best moments as an athlete: “Winning the state championship in Ohio during my senior year of high school. Also, getting drafted into the NBA.”

How he chose his current uniform number of 10: “I was No. 10 at Texas, so I just wanted to keep it the same.”

One thing fans might be surprised to know about him: “I know how to play the piano and the trumpet. Not very well, but I know how to play them.”

Favorite thing about New Orleans: “The food, 100 percent. It’s amazing. My favorite dish is fried alligator tails. Not a lot of people want to try them. I didn’t want to try them at first, either.”

Favorite childhood memory playing basketball: “My first time playing basketball I was in second grade, and my mom was my coach.”

First job: “I was a bus boy at a restaurant called Shooters in Loveland, Ohio (near Cincinnati).”

Favorite things about his hometown: “Skyline Chili in Cincinnati, my family and just the people there. It has four seasons and snows, the colors of the leaves change.”

Subject he’s knowledgeable about besides basketball: “Movies. I really like scary movies and watch a lot of them. It might sound crazy but when I’m bored I watch scary movies by myself.” [smiles]

Nicknames: “J.R., Sideshow Jax.”

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Biggest lesson learned from basketball: “Always be open to new things. You’re going to learn a lot, so be receptive to coaching.”

Biggest mentors: “My parents. I talk to them almost every day and they always give me tips on life.”

Player who had the biggest influence on him: “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, because of his sky hook. He’s a huge influence for a lot of bigs.”

What he’d be doing if he weren’t an NBA player: “I’d still be in college, but afterward I’d want to be a real estate agent.”

Favorite exercise besides basketball: “Playing football.”

Favorite healthy food: “I love grapes. I like apples and fruit a lot.”

Actor who’d play him in a movie: “Melvin Gregg. He’s from American Vandal, season 2. He’s a tall, light-skin guy.”

Favorite musical artist: “Future.”

How he’s most likely to spend a day off during the season: “Playing video games. My favorite game right now is probably Anthem. EA Sports gave it to me and I like it.”

Favorite Christmas memory: “My grandmother gave me a Lego set and we built it the whole day. It was one of those big ships from Star Wars.”

Most surprising thing about the NBA as a rookie: “How much there is to learn. You come in expecting to learn a lot, but there is way more that you have to learn than you expect.”

Most underrated player in the NBA: “Me, for sure.” [smiles]