Men's Basketball

NIT notebook: Royce Hamm’s layup, block, energy stabilized Texas in first half

Freshman Jaxson Hayes likely to make a decision this weekend about jumping into the NBA draft

Posted April 4th, 2019

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NEW YORK — Royce Hamm Jr. is remarkably consistent in one crucial way. When Texas coaches put the sophomore into the game, something good usually happens.

Hamm is known for his energy off the bench, and the Longhorns needed a spark midway through the first half Thursday of the NIT championship.

Lipscomb’s big men were having their way with Jericho Sims. Assistant coach Darrin Horn was practically screaming at head coach Shaka Smart to put Hamm into the game.

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When the sophomore got in, Hamm had a man-sized rebound and put-back. Then, Hamm had arguably the block of the year when he went high to slap away Kenny Cooper’s layup attempt. Texas had a 29-22 lead at that point as Hamm stabilized things.

“Coach Horn challenged us as big to put a stop to their bigs,” Hamm said. “When I came in, the big emphasis for me was stop (Rob) Marberry on defense. That was my main objective. When I put that in front of my mind, other things start going for me as well.”

Hamm finished four points, four rebounds and one block in 11 minutes.

Hayes looking ahead: Freshman Jaxson Hayes did not play in the NIT after suffering a knee injury in the Big 12 tournament. He’s considered an NBA lottery pick, and UT fans probably won’t have to wait long to learn about Hayes’ future.

“My parents are coming down this weekend, and I’ll meet with them and the coaches will meet and we’ll go from there,” Hayes said in the locker room afterward. The 6-foot-11 forward said while his family will be making a decision soon “we’re not going to rush it.”

If Hayes does go into the draft, it will most likely be the third straight year Texas has produced a first-round pick.

Lucas to A&M?: Texas A&M introduced new coach Buzz Williams on Thursday, and rumors surfaced immediately that he wanted UT assistant Jai Lucas on the staff in College Station.

Asked if that was true, Texas coach Shaka Smart said, “Not that I know of. A couple of people have asked me about that, I asked Jai about that and he said there was nothing to it.”

Lucas played at Texas under former coach Rick Barnes, then worked for Barnes and joined Smart’s staff as an assistant the last three seasons.

RELATED: PHOTOS — Texas defeats Lipscomb to win NIT championship

RELATED: Texas 81, Lipscomb 66: After up-and-down season, Longhorns are NIT champions

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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