Rutgers officially signs San Diego transfer PJ Hayes | Zagsblog
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Tuesday / June 18.
  • Rutgers officially signs San Diego transfer PJ Hayes

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    Rutgers on Wednesday announced the signing of San Diego transfer guard P.J. Hayes.

    Hayes, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound guard from Waconia, will join the Scarlet Knights for his final year of eligibility. The sharpshooter spent last season at San Diego, where he averaged 10.5 points per game shot 42.5 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from three-point range.

    “We are excited to officially welcome P.J. Hayes to The Knighthood,” Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell said. “We are adding another great student-athlete, from a great family, who can shoot the basketball. P.J. is a player who has shown the ability to hit nine three-pointers in a game and he can pass it as well. I love the basketball journey that he’s taken to our program, and I am proud to add another elite student-athlete to our program.” “I just know this team is going to be really good next year,” Hayes said. “I met a bunch of the guys and they are all great. I think with my shooting ability, I can really space the floor for them and I know that they’ll find me when I’m open. I haven’t played with a program that has this much talent coming in, but I think I can help make these guys better than they already are.”

    Hayes ranked first amongst his teammates at San Diego in made three-point field goals (73) and three-point percentage (.397, min. 8 attempts). He was second among his team in free throw percentage (.791, min. 10 attempts) and third in scoring.

    “I think I can shoot the lights out,” Hayes said of his strengths on the court. “You can expect that every shot I shoot is with confidence and I think it’s going in every time. I think I can be sneaky and athletic and I am good at finding my teammates and making them better. I think I can bring an energy the fans will love.”

    Hayes showed off his hot hand when he made a USD-record nine threes on January 23 at Portland, leading the Toreros to a thrilling comeback win by shooting 9-for-15 overall, 9-for-14 from three, and a perfect 6-for-6 from the line as he totaled 33 points, which marked the third-most in a single game by a WCC player in 2023-2024.

    Hayes credited the relationship he created with Pikiell and the staff for his decision.

    “I could tell from the moment I got to New Jersey that this was a family,” Hayes said. “I just knew that the coaches wanted what was best for me and they were looking out for my future as well. Not a lot of coaches think about that. Coach Pikiell is looking out for me for the rest of my life and this is a coach I want to play for.”

    Hayes laughed he only knew a few things about Rutgers before his visit this month.

    “I knew Ron Harper Jr. and that run they went on,” Hayes said. “I knew how good he was. I knew that the fans know how to make a gym look real bigger than it should be. I wasn’t even on the team yet and they were going crazy. I can’t wait to see the fanbase in that gym!”

    Hayes transferred to San Diego after three seasons at Black Hills State (Division II) where he shot 42.8 percent from beyond the arc. He shot 45 percent in his final year at Black Hills State which was good for 13th in the nation.

    As a junior at Black Hills, he received CSC Academic honors and was named to the South-Central Region All-Tournament Team. Hayes was a regular season and tournament champion his sophomore season while advancing to the Final Four of the National Tournament. He returned Black Hills State to the Final Four his junior season.

    Hayes attended Waconia High School in Waconia, MN. His father, Pat, played small forward at Winona State University and Pat finished his career in the top five in games played.

    “I’m appreciative of all the stops on my journey,” Hayes said. “We won a lot of games at Black Hills and that afforded me the opportunity to show I could compete at a higher level at San Diego. For my fifth year of college basketball at Rutgers, I am going to make sure it’s my best one yet.”

    (Release via Rutgers)

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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