By CODY WORSHAM
Tiger Rag Editor
Kieran Hayward has big shoes to fill.
First order, of course, is replacing the outside shooting, energy, and athleticism of Keith Hornsby, now playing for the Dallas Mavericks, on the wing. Having the same initials helps, but having Hornsby’s skillset and mental makeup helps, too. That’s something head coach Johnny Jones has noticed, as he’s been pleasantly pleased with Hayward’s work ethic since his arrival this summer.
“I love what he brings to the table for us. He plays extremely hard, he’s passionate about what he’s doing, he’s worked extremely hard in the offseason,” said Jones. “For a freshman, I’m not sure you could find anybody better. If you’d have had that kid in the States, the way he shoots, run, the way he plays, he’d have been one of the higher rated kids according to the scouting services.”
Blown away by the way Kieran Hayward plays. Kids in the US, he's a top flight prospect. Size, agility, athleticism… What's not to like?
— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) July 16, 2015
Second, but only slightly less important, is taking over as the team’s resident Australian, a title previously held by Darcy Malone and Ben Simmons.
Kieran and I chatted for a few minutes at LSU basketball media day on Wednesday about both of those tasks, and more.
Cody Worsham: How are you adjusting stateside?
Kieran Hayward: The weather is something man. The humidity! Everything here has been great. It’s been a really good time for me so far.
CW: You didn’t go to school at all in the spring, right? You were basically just working out.
KR: Yeah, the way it works in Australia, we finish half a year before. We have that couple months break before we come over here and start summer school. I’ve just been working out.
CW: Johnny has raved about your work ethic. Have you tried to put in more hours than in the past, or is that your default setting?
KH: I just like to work hard because I have a strong passion for the game. Whenever I can get in the gym, I’m going to try to get in the gym. It’s been a thing for me to take no days off. Even a day off, you’re still going to get in here. You might just have a little bit of a lighter session. But there’s always time for work.
CW: Have you found that people are having an easier time understanding your accent because of the previous Aussies who have been here?
KH: Darcy’s accent, I don’t think anyone has really his caliber of an accent. People definitely know what I’m saying when I throw in a couple of slang terms.
CW: Any culture shock here? How are you handling the food?
KH: Food. Food has been a huge difference. You probably know, but it’s a lot. Portions. I like food, though, so it’s not been a bad thing for me, but my body’s had to adjust to it. You guys use different ingredients.
CW: What’ve you tried? Crawfish, jambalaya, boudin?
KH: I haven’t tried crawfish yet. I’ve had jambalaya. I don’t know what boudin is.
CW: Nobody really knows what boudin is.
KH: It sounds interesting.
CW: How do you see your role on this team?
KH: I want to do the best I can. I’m going to work on every aspect of my game every day, get a little better every day. Hopefully I can do the best I can. Especially with Keith leaving, I’m going to do the best I can to fill his shoes.
CW: Johnny’s mentioned that a couple of times — you being ‘the next Keith Hornsby.’ How well do you know him, what do you know about his game?
KH: I met him a couple times, talked to him a couple times. I just gotta see what I can do. He’s a shooter, I’m a shooter. I’m going to see if I can do the best to fill his shoes.
CW: The guys who have been here before, what have they told you to expect about SEC play?
KH: The major thing they’ve told me is to be confident in yourself, believe in yourself. If you do that, the rest of that will come with it.
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