The state of Mississippi is having its most successful period of women’s basketball seasons in school history, with three consecutive deep runs in the NCAA tournament, including national finalists in 2017 and 2018.
East Hamilton senior Madison Hayes is ready to join in the fun and try to add to the Bulldogs’ accomplishments.
On Friday afternoon, Hayes took to social media to share a video of her pledging to coach Vic Shaefer’s program as she was surrounded by her high school teammates.
The Bulldogs are 104-10 over the past three seasons and 194-56 overall under Schaefer, who led the team to a sweep of the regular season and Southeastern Conference tournament titles. last season. Prior to winning the league’s 2017-18 regular season crown, the Bulldogs had never won an SEC title.
“Coach Schaefer really knows what he’s doing and has been through it all,” said Hayes. “All of his players love him, and I’ve been able to relate to him really well. Mississippi State has a great program, and I feel like he’s the best fit for me.”
Ranked 29th in the nation’s women’s basketball rookie in the 2020 signing class by espnW, Hayes visited Starkville last week, with her only other official basketball visit to the state of North Carolina. The Wolfpack is entering its sixth season under the direction of Wes Moore, a former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach who led NC State to four NCAA tournament appearances.
Faced with a difficult decision, Haye thinks he has taken the best possible, and especially because Schaefer’s teams are known for their defensive intensity. While the 6-foot Hayes produced solid offensive numbers for the Lady Hurricanes, including 2,229 points in a college career that began when she was in eighth grade, she could be at her best in defense.
“Mississippi State thinks I can really be a good candidate as a 2 or 3 goalie and play strong defense all over the court,” said Hayes, who averaged four interceptions and 3.1 blocks per game. as a junior. “Coach Schaefer is really strong in defense, and that’s kind of my thing.
“My defense is my offense. It’s all my heart. I’m just aggressive with the player who thinks he can pass you. I’m going over there and putting everything on the line for my team to give us a spark.”
Hayes averaged 25.2 points, 12.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists while shooting 49.3 percent from the ground and better than 60 percent on 2-point attempts for East Hamilton last season, and she has been in the limelight ever since. The Times Free Press selected her as the Best of Preps Scrappy Moore Female Athlete of the Year for 2018-19 after being honored as Tennessee’s Miss Basketball for Class AAA in March. In June, she played a big role in the United States, winning a gold medal at the FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Although Hayes was not tied to the state of Mississippi before signing her national letter of intent – the first opportunity for 2020 signatories is this November 13 – she said she was “110% committed” to Bulldogs. Still, she admitted that it was difficult to say no to the many other Power Five conference programs after building relationships with these coaches and teams throughout the recruiting process.
Now able to breathe a sigh of relief with his decision, Hayes hopes to push East Hamilton into an unforgettable 2019-20 season. The Lady Hurricanes were 21-13 last season, reaching the regional semi-finals before losing to Stone Memorial.
“The state championship is the last thing I want to cross,” she said. “That’s what I set my goals on. It would be the best thing for all of us. I’m excited for one last race.”