In the one-and-done era of basketball, players who are drafted typically must be at least 19 by the time of the NBA draft. Kilian Hayes, however, will likely be just 18 when he enters the NBA. It’s not a loophole or exception, rather it’s an alternate path he hopes will lead to the same place as those who took the more traditional route to the NBA. The story of both Killian and his father, DeRon Hayes, will be a memorable one as he tries to take his game to the next level.
DeRon Hayes’s story
Like Killian, his father DeRon had hoop dreams. After failing to enter the NBA in the early ’90s, he took his talents to Europe. He began his career in France but quickly moved east as he realized the paychecks and fanbase were larger. DeRon decided to make basketball his fulltime job. Throughout his overseas career, he awed the crowds in Sweden and Russia, too.
During summers, DeRon would try to make it into the NBA by playing in the Summer League. In 1998, he married his wife, Sandrine, in France but had to return to America to play for the ABA. Killian was born in Florida during that season. Although DeRon never quite realized his NBA dreams, his son may do it for him.
Killian Hayes’ path to the pros
While many NBA prospects use the U.S. high school system to make a name for themselves, DeRon had other plans for his son. He wanted Killian to stay in France and go pro at 16 instead. In this way, Killian mirrors Ricky Rubio’s path much more than LeBron James‘, and it may get him into the NBA early.
In 2017, Killian was invited to play in the Jordan Brand Classic International Game in Washington D.C. The shooting guard became co-MVP and racked up 13 points, seven assists, five rebounds, and five steals. He also made waves in the FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship, where he helped France win gold. So far, his father’s path to success was working out for him.
After his French club, Cholet, had a 9-14 season, Killian moved to the German club, Ratiopharm Ulm. This team may give him a bigger role and help him stand out as an NBA prospect.
An early-round NBA draft pick?
NBA scouts recently checked out Killian at a Basketball Without Borders camp. At 6-foot-5, the shooting guard’s court vision, handles, and relentless play have teams already considering him as an early draft pick. One scout, according to Bleacher Report, sees the writing on the wall — and he thinks the writing looks great.
“You like that he comes from a basketball family and that he will bring that professional experience from Europe,” the unnamed scout said. “Playing professionally makes you tough, and you can see that in the way that he plays. I’d bet on him making a big impact right away in the NBA.”
Time will tell if Killian has what it takes to be an NBA player. Players like Emmanuel Mudiay have tried the overseas path and disappointed. However, Hayes’s method is different. The 18-year-old’s talent is already catching more than one eye. If he finds himself on stage early in the draft, he’ll finally achieve what his father only dreamed of.