Unlikely story leads to WMU offer for Seattle hoops star
Head coach Steve Hawkins and Western Michigan's men's basketball program has currently offered at least one player a scholarship for the class of 2013, and it may be off of many peoples' radar screens.
Out of Garfield High School in Seattle, Wa., Tucker Haymond may be a completely new name to Western Michigan fans, but his unlikely history with the WMU basketball program goes back seven years to the Broncos' participation in the 2005 Rainbow Classic.
"When I was ten years old I was in Hawaii for the Rainbow Classic, and Western Michigan was staying in our hotel, and that's when I first started playing basketball," Haymond explained. "I was looking at those guys, thinking I wanted to play basketball in college, and then I ended up running into Coach Hawkins, and so we were talking and we got tickets and went to all their games. I was saying, 'Maybe I can play for you someday'."
Hawkins handed the young Haymond his business card, and the two went on their way. Haymond would periodically check in via e-mail, but for the most part nothing seemed to be coming of the encounter, until six years later.
"We lost contact over the years, and then this last summer I was in Augusta, Georgia, for a tournament and I saw him there. I was walking in the hallway to my game and I saw him there. I had my mom talk to him, and they talked about knowing me as a little kid and he was like 'Oh, man, I was about to leave' so he came back in and watched me play one time," Haymond said.
Coach Hawkins was impressed to say the least, as he wasted no time and called just days after the tournament to formally offer Haymond a scholarship.
Haymond, a straight-A student whose interest includes Columbia from the Ivy League, currently holds an offer from Seattle along with WMU but says that his recruitment is still very much open. Western Michigan would appear to have a very good chance, however, as Haymond says his relationship with Hawkins as well as his research into WMU as a school are both positives.
Program prestige is less of a concern for the 6-foot-6, 210 pound swingman.
"I'm looking for a school that's as interested in me as I am in them, a coaching staff and living environment that I'm comfortable with. I really don't have a problem as far as major vs. mid-major," Haymond said.
While he projects as mainly a shooting guard at the college level, Haymond believes his versatility is a major asset, as he has played at every position in his high school career. Haymond also said his three point shooting and finishing ability were what led him to such a fine season as a junior, as he averaged just over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. He is working to improve his ball handling to better play the guard position in college.
Along with his two offers, interest is coming in for Haymond from Memphis, Oregon State, BYU, Santa Clara, San Diego, San Francisco, Pepperdine, and Columbia. Haymond has no plans just yet for making visits, but did indicate that he would love to visit Western Michigan if given the opportunity.
"I haven't been out there, but Coach Hawkins flew out here before the basketball season to come talk to me and watch me in open gym one time," Haymond said. "I haven't made any decisions on where I'm going to make my visits, but if I got the opportunity to come to Michigan, I would definitely check Western Michigan out, because I've been looking and I know it's a good school and I have a great relationship with Coach Hawkins."