by Cassie Mattia
Loveland, Ohio – With the beginning of a new school year quickly approaching, Loveland’s top athletes have been working hard all summer to perfect their craft! Over the past few years, Loveland High school has become a powerhouse when it comes to sports, producing both collegiate and professional athletes. Well, Loveland High school has done it again! Her name is Jillian Hayes, a 6’1 multi-faceted athlete that averaged 17.3 points and 8 rebounds per game last year. Hayes is not unfamiliar with the idea of competing at the collegiate level, as her mother, Kristi Hayes broke several records in high school and at her alma mater, Drake. Kristi averaged 52 points per game her senior year in high school and went on to become the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year at Drake scoring over 1,500 points during her collegiate career. Hayes’ father, Jonathan Hayes, played 12 years in the NFL and was a tight ends coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. He is the current head coach and general manager of the St. Louis XFL team. Her brother, Jaxson Hayes, was just picked 8th overall in the NBA Draft signing to the New Orleans Pelicans.
After several collegiate offers, Jillian recently committed to the University of Cincinnati to play Bearcat basketball. As her senior year approaches, there’s no doubt the sky is the limit for her upcoming basketball season with the Loveland Tigers!
I jumped at the opportunity to chat one on one with Jillian about her passion for basketball, her love for her family, and her dedication to both athletics and her education. Instead of doing a traditional interview I decided to put a spin on the interview process and do a question and answer forum so that you, the Loveland Magazine readers, could really get to know Jillian Hayes! So sit back, kick your feet up and check out Loveland Magazine’s interview with the basketball superstar herself, Jillian Hayes!
First off congratulations on your most recent accolades and achievements! Tell me what was it like growing up in the Hayes house? Have you always lived in Loveland?
Thank you! Growing up in my house we were always on the go, trying to get from one sporting event to the next. My brothers and I grew up playing games and sports with the other neighbor kids in the driveway and the yard. I was born in Norman, Oklahoma but have been raised in Loveland since I was about 2.
When did your passion for basketball begin? I know both of your parents and your brother are top-notch athletes themselves, is that where the passion came from for the game of basketball?
I grew up around basketball it was always a part of my life. Through competition – and the more I played, the more I fell in love with it.
You are going into a very important year at Loveland High school in regards to education and sports, what are you most excited about? What has your experience been like as a student-athlete at Loveland?
I’m so excited for one last go around with all of my friends, teammates, and coaches. Being a student-athlete at Loveland has been amazing. We have such a supportive community!
I have chatted with Coach Parker about some of the athletes he has had the pleasure of coaching and he seems to really have a passion for the game of basketball and his athletes. What does Coach Parker mean to you? How has he helped you as a student, athlete, and person?
Coach Parker is such an amazing coach! You can truly tell how passionate he is for the game and his players just by watching him in games. He brings so much energy! He makes it known from the very beginning that academics come first and are very understanding when it comes to needing to stay after school to make up a test or ask questions. Every day in practice and even outside of practice he continues to push us and is always there to open the gym when we need to use it. Coach Parker really has helped shape me into the person I am today by teaching me various life lessons on and off the court.
Let’s talk about basketball! What position do you play? What position do you prefer? What’s your favorite part about the game of basketball? Do you have a basketball role model?
I play anywhere from 1 to stretch 4 for Loveland. I’ll play whatever position my coach needs me to, but I mostly play a 3 or stretch 4. I love the competing aspect of it and continuing to challenge myself to become the best player and teammate I can be. My basketball role model would have to be my mom. She averaged 52 points in her senior year of high school and was an All American division 1 player. Not only did her accolades make her great she also had such an amazing basketball IQ and had counter moves for every defender that tried to stop her.
Ok so let’s take a moment to go over your awards and accolades as a basketball player! What are your proudest accolades? Have you been selected to be apart of an elite basketball team or play in any all-star games? It’s okay to brag about yourself for a minute!
My proudest accolade is getting the chance to play for Coach Heard at UC and getting 3rd in the nation at Nike Nationals. I got the chance to play for an EYBL team for the AAU season. The EYBL is a Nike circuit that has the top competition from all around the country.
We have heard as a Loveland community about the big announcement….you have committed to The University of Cincinnati to play basketball! Are you excited to play sports at the collegiate level? Was UC your first choice? Talk about your journey to deciding where you wanted to play and why.
I am thrilled to be able to play division 1 basketball. UC was the perfect fit for me. Every time I stepped on campus it felt like home and I would just light up. The relationship I have with Coach Heard is amazing! We have such a great bond. Coach Heard and the rest of the staff already feel like family!
Your family is a huge SPORTS family with your mom being a former basketball all-star, your dad being a Bengals coach, and your brother committing to play for the NBA. Do you put pressure on yourself because of your family’s success in sports? If so why and how? What have you learned from your family?
No, each person in our family has their own story and although we are big competitors we don’t compete against each other, but rather support one another. I have learned everything I know from my family, they truly have shaped me into the person I am today.
Being an athlete myself I know that we are always reaching higher for bigger and better goals, what are some goals you would like to achieve over the next few years?
For my senior year, my goal is to help the team win sectional finals. We’ve come a little short in previous years. I would also like to make it to the NCAA tournament my first year at UC and really go on a run in the tournament.
What are you doing now to prepare for this year’s basketball season? Do you have any advice for any student-athletes out there that are trying to make it to the collegiate level?
Training with Coach Keith Braswell, lifting and explosion training. No matter what role you have I think you should always lead with confidence, have fun with it and enjoy every chance you have to be out on the court.
Let’s get a few fun facts out there about you for our loyal readers! What is your favorite color? What is your basketball pre-game ritual? What’s your favorite food? What is your favorite movie? Do you have a favorite basketball team, if so, who? What are some of your favorite hobbies? What do you LOVE about Loveland? Do you have any favorite Loveland “spots?”
Black or blue. Listening to music. Sushi. Like Mike. New Orleans Pelicans because my older brother plays for them. I like hanging with my friends and playing volleyball. I love the community because they continue to be supporters of all Loveland’s sports. Two of my favorite spots are Loveland Dairy Whip and Trailside Ice Shack Hawaiian Ice in downtown Loveland.
Thank you Jillian for your time. Loveland Magazine will certainly be following you on the volleyball and basketball courts your Senior year. Best of luck in all you do.