Coming off a superb rookie season that included a Northeast-10 Conference Rookie of the Year selection, the breaking of Merrimack’s single-season assist record (287) and leading the country in total assists and assists per game, sophomore Juvaris Hayes (Paterson, N.J.) of the Merrimack College men’s basketball program earned Preseason All-American Honorable Mention recognition in the Street & Smith’s 2017-18 Basketball Yearbook & NCAA Preview.
Hayes returns as Merrimack’s point guard to a program that was ranked 14th nationally in the preseason rankings conducted by the Division II Bulletin. Hayes is one of five starters and seven rotational players that return from last year’s squad that upset top-seeded Le Moyne in the NCAA Tournament to reach the regional semifinals.
The Paterson native not only paced all floor generals nationwide in assists, but posted the second-highest single-season assist total in Northeast-10 Conference history. It marked the most by a NE10 student-athlete in nearly three decades (1988-89).
In addition to his offensive prowess, Hayes led the NE10 in total steals (87) and steals per game (2.81), ranking second and fourth in the country, respectively. With 87 thefts, he posted the eighth-most steals in a single year in conference history.
Hayes’ 12 double-doubles led the Navy and Gold, while he was one of 12 players nationwide to notch a triple-double with his 22 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in a game last November against Concordia. He finished the year with an average of 13.9 points per game, with shooting splits of .502/.396/.739. His 130 free throws doubled the amount of the next closed Warrior, while he went to the charity stripe a team-leading 176 times.
On the glass, Hayes tied for the team best with 6.2 caroms per contest, leading the Warriors with 153 defensive boards. He registered three double-digit rebounds efforts to go along with 23 double-figure scoring outputs and 16 performances with at least 10 assists.
Hayes and the Warriors competed in their first official practice of the season on Sunday, while the Navy and Gold sit two weeks away from their season-opening exhibition at UConn on Monday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. from the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.