USA Basketball’s trip to the Pan American Games wasn’t what it thought it would be in terms of wins and losses, but for Kentucky’s Chuck Hayes, the trip might have been a coming out party.
Hayes was perhaps the best player on a star-studded roster of college basketball’s best hoopsters, proving once again the doing the dirty work can earn you a lot of respect.
The 6-foot-6 forward from Modesto, Calif. was the second-leading scorer for the USA at 11.2 points a night. Hayes added 7.6 rebounds and shot 56.8 percent (21-37) from the field. He also had eight assists, four blocks and seven steals in the five-game tournament which saw the United States finish 2-3 and without a medal.
Hayes said the experience was invaluable to him both personally and as a basketball player.
"It was an honor playing for my country and I would do it again in a heartbeat," Hayes said. "The three letters U-S-A are bigger than me or anyone in our locker room. I will take this experience back with me to Kentucky and tell my teammates they better get serious about their games. The rest of the world is out there putting in work."
With Hayes’ leadership skills, that will undoubtedly get his UK teammates in gear for the 2003-04 season.
HAYES’ game-by-game stats
Game 1 vs. Argentina: 17 points, 5 rebounds (7-10 FG)
Game 2 vs. Puerto Rico: 4 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists (1-2 FG)
Game 3 vs. Uruguay: 10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist (3-3 FG)
Game 4 vs. Brazil: 15 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists (6-13 FG)
Game 5 vs. Puerto Rico: 10 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals (4-9 FG)