Jason Filippi sat down with potential lottery pick, Killian Hayes, to discuss his family background, his recent move from France to Germany, and his future in the NBA.
Jason Filippi: Tell us a bit about your family background, when and where did you start playing basketball?
Killian Hayes: My dad was a pretty big player back in the day. In high school, he was a big recruit, he went to college and played overseas. He had a pretty good career and I have just followed in his footsteps since I was young. I have always had a ball in my hands. I really started playing around four years old I would say.
Describe your game – what type of player are you?
I am more of a playmaker. I like to create, get a lot of assists and make everybody happy. I also like to play in transition.
What is your best skill as a player?
I would say my court vision. I can see pretty much the whole floor all the time.
What is your biggest weakness?
Turnovers. That has been a big problem this year. I need to be more careful with the ball and not throw it away. I would say my shooting too -- I need to improve my shooting.
What about your court vision – is that something you have always had or is that something that you have developed?
Yeah, I like to play like that. It’s fun. Everybody is happy. Imagine a guy hits a shot – he is happy. Everyone smiles and it gets the team going. When I watch film, I read the game and then I try to anticipate what the opponents are going to do out on the court.
Your father was a former pro player – what advice has he given you?
Always stay true to yourself and to trust your work. If you work hard it is going to pay off -- but mostly just to trust yourself.
Tell me more about your decision to leave Cholet and come to Ulm. When and why did you decide to do this?
Well, Cholet was kind of a complicated situation. I had been there almost all of my life and I wanted to see something new. ULM talked to my agent and then I got a call from Jaka Lakovic and from there we just got along well. I liked his vision, I liked everything he said. Plus, I wanted to play two games a week and compete in a European cup — so with them being in the Eurocup, it felt perfect.
What has been the biggest adjustment for you playing for Ulm team?
Well back in France, I knew everyone. I had a lot of friends outside of basketball there too. Here it is strictly basketball for me. I don’t really do much. I don’t go out or anything. I just focus on myself and basketball.
How about adjustments off the court? Living alone?
I am used to living alone now but it’s a whole new city and a new country for me so I don’t really go out or anything except to buy groceries. Other than that, I just stay at home. I do miss my guys from back home but this is business.
Do you wear a specific number on your jersey for a special reason?
Well, last year I actually wanted number zero but it was already taken so I chose three and just stuck with it. When I was younger D-Wade was my favorite player and he wore number three.
You are expected to put your name in the NBA Draft next summer. Are you ready to come back to the USA or do you think you might need another year preparing overseas?
It all depends on how the season goes. I’m going to try to have the best season possible and then we will see.
What are your long-term goals?
My dream has always been to be in the NBA so I would say to have a great career in the NBA and to be happy.
Do you model your game after any specific NBA player or even a European one for that matter?
I model my game after other lefties like D’Angelo Russell and Manu Ginobili – I loved Manu's footwork, his vision, and his passing.
Who is the best and toughest player to guard that you have faced so far in your career?
I think it was during my first pro season, a guy from Strasbourg named David Logan. He was coming off screens and just shooting threes all the time. I remember just getting caught on every screen. He was just the toughest guy to guard.
What are four words that would best describe you as a person?
Fun. Low-key. Enthusiastic. Excitable or hyped-up — even for little things.
What is your biggest passion outside of basketball?
I love listening to music. I always like the lyrics and the beat. I am always listening to music. I listen mostly to rap but I am starting to get into afro tracks because that is pretty big in France. On my playlist now I have a lot of Kevin Gates and Burna Boy.
Describe how you see your life 10 years from now?
Hopefully, I will be in the NBA and with a nice family — everyone will be happy!