ORLANDO, Fla. — Did Brad Stevens teach Gordon Hayward anything when the two were at Butler University together, Stevens as the basketball coach, Hayward as his star forward?
Why, yes. Yes, he did.
“He was the first person to tell me he thought I could make it to the NBA,” said Hayward, who now plays for the Utah Jazz, who are playing in summer league here.
“We sat down my freshman year, and he said, ‘I think you can play at the next level.’
“It was always a dream of mine, but I didn’t really think that was going to happen. I wasn’t highly recruited. I wasn’t anything big in high school. That’s one thing he showed me, that it’s going to take a lot of work but that I could get there.”
Now, Stevens has left his post as the head coach at Butler to become the 17th head coach in Celtics’ history.
And Hayward has plenty of faith that Stevens will do just fine in the NBA, even though he has no prior experience in the league.
“He knows what he’s doing,” Hayward said. “He realizes everything that everybody is saying about it, the challenge that he’s going to face. It doesn’t matter. He’ll be successful wherever he’s at.”
Obviously, one personality trait that sticks out about Stevens is his poise, his calm.
Where does that come from? From his extreme preparedness, Hayward said.
“He does his research on guys and knows what he’s doing before the ball even goes up,” Hayward said of Stevens. “Even if they make an adjustment, he’s already prepared in his mind what he’s going to do, what he thinks is going to work. He’s got a backup for that and a backup if the backup doesn’t work. That’s why he’s so poised, in my opinion, because he had done his homework early. He knows basketball as well. He’s been in it his whole life and he’s been a student of the game. He knows it inside and out.”
But, make no mistake, Stevens can show emotion if need be, Hayward said.
“He can get after it, for sure, if we didn’t have a good practice or we’re not doing things the right way,” he said. “But for the most part, he’s definitely even-keeled on good things and bad.”