Moments: Winter Warriors Shine in the Spotlight

Juvaris Hayes

Juvaris Hayes entered his senior season coming off an unprecedented junior campaign in 2018-19.

Senior point guard Juvaris Hayes dominated the Division II ranks from the moment he stepped on campus. He was an All-American, won major awards at the Northeast-10 Conference and led Merrimack to three NCAA Tournaments as well as a conference title in 2018-19. Individually, he posted a junior season that had never been done before at the NCAA level (see gra[hic above). He had one lingering question left to answer, however, entering his senior season: Could he succeed in Division I?

He did just that, and more. He immediately was named the nation’s Mid-Major Player of the Week after a stat-sheet stuffing performance in the Warriors’ upset victory over Northwestern, the team’s first win as a Division I program. He finished the night with 19 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals while shooting 4-of-7 from the floor and 10-of-13 at the free throw line. And just like that, his senior season skyrocketed from there.

Senior All-American Juvaris Hayes

By season’s end, Hayes would be named NEC Player of the Week on multiple occasions, was a NEC Prime Performer in eight different weeks, and was named to both the Lou Henson Award Midseason Watch List (Mid-Major’s Top Player) and to the 3x3U Tournament Midseason Watch List. The point guard certainly proved he belonged among the nation’s best as well, finishing the season leading all of Division I in both total steals (121) and steals per game (3.9). Hayes picked up his game in Northeast Conference (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.

A particularly monumental moment occurred on Sunday February 23, when he established a new NCAA record across all divisions with his 449th steal of the season. He would finish his illustrious career with 457 swipes, christening himself as the new NCAA steals king. In program history, he ranks as the all-time leader in both steals and assists (952) while scoring 1,951 points and hauling in 741 rebounds. He ranks in the top-10 in school history in both scoring and rebounds.

The NEC publicized Hayes record-setting steal total following Merrimack’s game at Mount St. Mary’s

It was a great completing these milestones because I always set goals before the season, but with the biggest one yet, to be the all-time steals leader in unimaginable because it’s not too often you see people reaching those heights during their career. I was fortunate enough to accomplish this while also being an All-American, being motivated daily by teammates, coaches and even friends reminding me how big this would be while being apart of it was even better couldn’t have done it without them.

His long list of postseason accolades includes his selection to the Lou Henson All-American Team and recipient of the Lefty Driesell Award as the nation’s top defensive player. Additionally, Hayes earned NEC Defensive Player of the Year as well as spots on the NEC All-Conference First Team, USBWA All-District I Team, and NABC All-District First Team.

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