Milwaukee – Former Marquette standout Lazar Hayward realized his lifelong dream of being selected in the National Basketball Association draft Thursday night when he was tabbed by the Washington Wizards with the 30th selection in the first round.
The 53rd player in school history to have his name called in the NBA draft, the Buffalo, N.Y., native was the final selection of the opening round and announced by league commissioner David Stern at Madison Square Garden.
"It's just surreal right now," Hayward said. "I am very blessed and I want to thank everyone that made it possible. The coaches, Todd Smith my strength coach, everyone at Marquette and throughout my basketball career who has helped me develop."
In a proposed deal, Hayward's rights are to be included in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Former MU assistant coach Jerry Sichting, the Timberwolves' director of pro personnel, worked with Hayward at MU as an assistant to Tom Crean and was the person who alerted Hayward to the selection.
"Coach Sichting called and said I might want to turn on the draft because Washington was going to pick me for Minnesota at 30," Hayward said. "I was at dinner with my dad. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would go in the first round."
Hayward already has plans to travel to Minneapolis Friday morning for an afternoon press conference with the Timberwolves. Team officials were able to evaluate Hayward at a group workout with several NBA teams and wanted Hayward to return for an individual workout, but his scheduled other training sessions conflicted with the trip.
With the selection, Hayward became the first Marquette player drafted since Steve Novak in 2006 and the highest pick since Dwyane Wade was picked fifth overall in 2003. He is the first MU player drafted by Washington since Jim McIlvaine in 1994.
"What an incredible story!" head coach Buzz Williams said. "As an institution and a program, we are all extremely proud and genuinely happy for Lazar and his family.
"He represents all that a student-athlete should be about on and off the floor and anticipate he will be the same in the NBA," Williams said.
Hayward was the fourth BIG EAST Conference player announced Thursday night. Wesley Johnson (4th), Greg Monroe (7th) and Dominique Jones (25th).
With an emphasis on game-film and the Eye Test rather than the stat sheet, IrishEyes offers its Big…