Recent graduate Juvaris Hayes of the Merrimack College men’s basketball program signed his first professional contract this week, joining Tigers Tuebingen of the Basketball Bundesliga in Germany.
Hayes’ deal comes on the heels of a fabulous year at the Division I level that capped off a superb career for the Paterson, N.J. native. Just last year he was named a Lou Henson All-American – the program’s first All-American at the Division I level – as well as variety of other accolades including Northeast Conference (NEC) Defensive Player of the Year, NEC All-Conference First Team, USBWA All-District I Team, NABC All-District First Team, and winning the 2020 Lefty Driesell Award as the nation’s top defensive player. Hayes never missed a game in his career, starting in all 126 of his appearances, and finished his career as one of the two winningest players in school history (81 wins).
Hayes’ noteworthy season included leading all of Division I in both total steals (121) and steals per game (3.9). Hayes picked up his game in NEC action, averaging 4.5 steals per game – more than two thefts more than the next closest NEC competitor – and posted 81 steals overall, more than double the total of the next closest player. He also led the country in steal percentage (6.5) and posted nine separate games with at least five steals, including a career-high-tying nine at Central Connecticut.
The point guard established a new NCAA record (across divisions) in career steals with 457, breaking a 17-year mark. Hayes posted at least 120 steals in each of his last three seasons, finishing his senior year with the third most steals in a single year in NEC history. As a sophomore, Hayes set a Northeast-10 Conference (Division II) single-season record with 124 thefts, only to best that one year later as a junior with a career-high 125-steal campaign.
The Paterson, N.J. native ended the season as the NEC’s leader in assists per game, dishing out 198 through 31 games for an average of 6.4 per contest. Offensively, he averaged 10.7 points per game, ending the year with double-digit scoring performances in six of his final seven contests. He concluded the regular season as the Warriors’ team leader in assists (6.4), rebounds (4.7) and steals (3.9), serving as the catalyst of the team’s offensive and defensive game plans. In his career, Hayes is the program’s all-time assists and steals leader while ranking in the top-10 in both career points and career rebounds.