Notre Dame Prep is a school that has seen a great deal of talent on the basketball floor over the years. Some players come in with developed skills while others come with a lot of work to do. The difference is in the amount of work that they want to put forth into developing those skills. Notre Dame Prep Head Coach Bill Barton has seen quite a few of those players and has helped Lazar take his game in the right direction. "He came to us as a shooter and since then his game has evolved into being able to rebound, put the ball on the ground, anything you can think of offensively. Defensively he's getting better too. He doesn't get bullied off of the post. He draws that line and plays defense there. He's taken off 15 lbs of baby fat and replaced it with 15 lbs of muscle. He has grown up here – its remarkable to see the strides he makes – he puts the ball in front of him, he can pull up offensively – I've just seen great changes all around for him."
Lazar does have a great deal of confidence in his game, but at the same time he knows there is more work to do. "I have a natural knack for scoring. If I'm not having a good shooting night – I'll go inside, and if I'm not scoring inside, I can shoot. And if I am not doing either one well – I'll always be able to rebound. When it comes to loose balls and rebounds – I seem to have the knack for getting the ball. I always seem to be the one that comes up with them. I think my lateral movement needs to get better – I need to be quicker on my toes. If I can get better there, it will cause a lot of people a lot of trouble trying to match up with me."
With his work ethic, Lazar is sure to see more improvement, but Coach McMahon knows that it will come, "I thought I knew where his ceiling was – but I realized I have no idea where his ceiling is. He's more athletic than people give him credit for. He's not the quickest or fastest guy out there, but there is no wasted motion and that's why he picks up a footstep if he wants another split second."
Lazar is willing to do whatever it takes to make a contribution to his future team. At 6'6 he can play multiple positions, and doesn't mind doing so. "I will play the 2 or 3. I think Coach Crean is going to have me all over the place though. I wouldn't be surprised if I played 1-through-5. I don't care what position I'm playing, put me at the 5. I'll play the 5, I just want to play. I'm not a little guy so I can bang with the big men."
Lazar knows that the game is not just physical, but mental as well. "I always knew I could play Division 1 basketball. The only thing that my game was missing two years ago was my confidence. Once I became more confident, the rest of my game came along with it. I think I have a bigger heart than a lot of players so that helps a lot because a big heart will take you a long way – it will take you further than confidence, said Hayward."
What can Marquette fans expect?
Notre Dame Prep Assistant Coach Mike McMahon is a graduate of Marquette University and is very proud that a person like Lazar Hayward will be representing his alma mater, "We have a real good one here. Every day he shows us that he can do something more. I tell everyone that he's special. He's someone that you can put in front of the camera and he will represent the program off the floor the way that it deserves to be represented. He is going to have a great, great career at Marquette."