Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball legend Nigel Hayes has signed a one-year deal with European powerhouse FC Barcelona (yes, the basketball team has the same name as the soccer team so I’m basically calling his move there a like-for-like Lionel Messi replacement). The deal runs until June 30, 2022.
✍ Barça and @NIGEL_HAYES have reached an agreement for the US player to join the club for the coming season— Barça Basket (@FCBbasket) August 22, 2021
The agreement is pending the player's Medical: https://t.co/pbydOzYc7T
Hayes, who spent the last two seasons with Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania, will be reunited with current Barca head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius, who was Zalgiris’ coach during the 2019-2020 season. He will wear No. 14 for this season.
During his time in Lithuania, Hayes appeared in 62 Lithuanian league games and 62 EuroLeague games. He averaged 9.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game in 26 minutes per contest in the European competition. He shot 44.3% from deep and 89.4% from the charity stripe, so he will be a valuable floor spacer for Barcelona.
Hayes has also played for the Westchester Knicks of the G-League, Galatasaray in Turkey and had brief stints with the Lakers, Kings and Raptors. The Celtics showed interest in Hayes this offseason as did Panathinaikos and Monaco according to eurohoops.net, but he’ll end up playing for the Spanish giants instead.
Barca is the defending Spanish League and Spanish Cup champions while finishing second in EuroLeague last year. This year’s roster features former NBA players Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Alex Abrines, Brandon Davies and others while also having New York Knicks 2021 draft pick (via Oklahoma City) Rokas Jokubaitis. Historically, Barca has had many great players suit up for them including Pau Gasol, Rony Seikaly, Marc Gasol, Anderson Varejão, Juan Carlos Navarro, Ricky Rubio and all-time leading scorer and games played Juan Antonio San Epifanio Ruiz.
We wish Hayes luck in Spain and hopefully we’ll get to see him raise another trophy.