The first day of high school is always a little strange for freshmen. You have to wake up an hour earlier, there are a bunch of new kids and it’s too early to tell how strict a teacher is.
But when Eric Hayes arrives at Potomac for the first day of school this September, it will be a welcome experience and one a long time in coming.
Hayes repeated the eighth grade last year at a private school to allow him to physically mature before entering high school. The decision had nothing to do with grades, but giving Hayes an extra year to grow.
Hayes is the son of Potomac basketball coach Kendall Hayes, who decided it would be best for his son to have an extra year to grow and mature.
“I actually made the decision about five or six years ago to hold him back a year sometime before high school,” Kendall Hayes said. “I remember when I was his age and I did not begin to grow later in life. I figured it would be better for him to do his growing in high school instead of college.”
Eric Hayes grew three inches and added 15 pounds in the extra year. He now stands 6-foot and weighs 165 pounds, but is happy for the extra year.
“I think it’s been good for me,” Hayes said. “I’ve gotten bigger and stronger and I think I’m more ready. I didn’t think it was a bad idea or anything. It was a little weird at first, but my dad knows what’s best, so I went with his decision.”
The decision was easy to make, but pulling it off was a little more difficult. Hayes attended Saunders Middle School for his first eighth grade year and applied to transfer to Rippon Middle School to repeat the grade, but was denied.
He ended up attending Christ Chapel, a small private school in Woodbridge, for the year and was able to take algebra and Spanish classes that count towards his degree at Potomac.
“The school was pretty good and definitely a lot different from public school,” Hayes said. “There were not many people at all. There were only 12 people in my grade, but besides that not much changed.
“I was still able to see all my friends. We didn’t stop hanging out or anything because I was at a different school. Not a whole lot changed except for the fact that I wasn’t going to school with them anymore.”
Hayes said that he did not mind the extra year and hopes that it will help him get a college scholarship in four years. He said that he would like to play for an ACC school and named Maryland as his top choice.
“We were not in any big hurry to rush him along,” Kendall Hayes said. “We think it’s better for him to go into college at 18 or 19-years old instead of 17 or 18. He’ll be more mature as a player and as a person, which will be more attractive to coaches.”
College though is still four years down the road. Eric Hayes is currently playing for Potomac in Metro South and for the Prince William Pacers 14-and-under AAU team. The Pacers are made up of the best 8th graders in the area and are going to the AAU National Tournament at the end of the month.
He is also preparing for the upcoming school basketball season, where he will be able to play for his dad. Kendall, who has a 324-101 record in 18 years as Potomac’s coach, has coached his son’s AAU teams in the past and looks forward to coaching his son on the high school level.
“We have a really good relationship and I think Eric had handled this very well,” Kendall Hayes said. “He has a real mature attitude about this and we think this is the best move for us.”
Hayes is 15-years old and will be 18 going into his senior season. If he had gone to Potomac instead of going to Christ Chapel last year he would only have been 17 entering his senior year.
The Hayes family took advantage of Virginia High School League rule 28.5.1 which states, “The student shall not have reached the age of 19 on or before the first day of August of the school year in which he/she wishes to compete.”
Even though the move has come under criticism for changing the standard progression through the school system and took advantage of the VHSL’s rules, Kendall Hayes sticks by his decision.
“We are happy we did it,” Hayes said. “I talked to a lot of people who have done it and no one said that they wished they hadn’t, but I’ve heard other who did not wait an extra year wish they had. In the grand scheme of things it does not matter if someone comes out of college at 22 or 23. We thought this was the best thing to do.”
Of course the most important person in all of this was Eric. He said that he supports his dad’s decision and knows that he has his best interest at heart.
“I think it depends on the individual situation,” Eric Hayes said. “For some people it might not be the right move, but for me I think it’s going to work out well.”
PACERS ON VERGE OF PERFECT REGULAR SEASON
With a win over Potomac on Friday night, the Prince William Pacers will finish a perfect 8-0 in the Metro South junior varsity league.
The Pacers are made up of the best eighth graders in the area and have dominated the league. Only two of the Pacers games have been decided by less than 10 points and they have twice scored over 100 points.
“We probably should have played up in the varsity league,” Pacers coach Freddie Cox Jr. said. “We have rolled through the league and it might have been better to challenge ourselves a little bit more.”
The Pacers will be playing in the 14-and-under AAU National Tournament July 31-August 6 in Orlando, Fla. They finished second in the Virginia state AAU tournament.
Potomac gave the Pacers their toughest game in Metro South earlier this summer. The Pacers won 62-55 on June 28 and have already locked up the top seed for the Metro South playoffs, which begin July 23 at Osbourn Park.
Team members are: Danny Sumner, Wilbur O’Neal, Anthony Wright, Wayne Sanders, Carlos Segarra, Charlie Swartz, Calvin Booth, Deonta Hylton, Benji Spanier, Mark Munson, Eric Hayes, Anthony Coleman, Nasir Austin and Brad Dutton. The team is coached by Cox and assisted by Carlos Segarra and Mike Jackson.
VIRGINIANS GO TO NATIONALS
The Prince William Virginians girls 13-and-under AAU team went 2-1 during pool play at the AAU National Championships last week in Orlando, Fla. and advanced to the double-elimination championship tournament.
The Virginians defeated the Central Kentucky Angels, 53-51, on Friday and then destroyed the Jackson (Miss.) Sparks, 65-35, on Saturday morning. In their final pool game, Prince William lost to the Capital Comets on Saturday afternoon, 61-52, but finished second in the pool to advance to the championship tournament.
On Sunday, the Virginians lost their opening tournament game, 54-37, to the Memphis Lady Black Hawks and were sent to the loser’s bracket. They won their first game in the loser’s bracket 57-46 over Toss it Up (Southwest Association), but were then sent home by the Connecticut Shamrocks, 49-46, in their next game.
The team is made up of players from Prince William County and made the National Tournament by finishing second in the state. The team finished fifth in the nation four years ago as 10-and-unders.
Team members are: Ariene Jenkins, Ashleigh Braxton, Lauren Firich, Chanelle Downing, Jessica Taylor, Brittnie Williams, Lakisha Ferguson, Marqui Mason, Kayla Dozier, Lindsey MacDonald and Chalea Johnson.
DABNEY COMMITS TO MARY BALDWIN COLLEGE
Potomac forward Eric Dabney has committed to play basketball at Division III Mary Baldwin College in Stanton.
Dabney averaged 8.3 points per game her senior year at Potomac and was named all-Cedar Run District. She helped the Panthers to an 18-7 record and the Cedar Run District title.
Dabney plans to major in communications.
David Stegon covers summer basketball for the Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger. Reach him at (703) 878-8053 or via e-mail at [email protected]