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Jaxson Hayes picked No. 8 overall by the Pelicans

Jaxson Hayes, NBA Draft

Former University of Texas big man Jaxson Hayes is officially headed to the New Orleans Pelicans. On Thursday evening, the Pelicans selected the former Longhorns standout with the No. 8 overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft en route to formally kicking off Hayes’ professional tenure as an NBA big man after just one year of collegiate basketball.

The 19-year-old center stands just under seven feet tall while weighing 220 pounds, giving him both the size and strength to immediately serve as an impact player for the Pelicans, who will be looking to pair the former Texas standout with the likes of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

Because of his ability to protect the rim, Hayes skyrocketed up most draft boards throughout the spring — even after being overshadowed at times over the course of the last few years.

“First, I would like to thank God for giving me the opportunity to play this game I love so much,” Hayes said in an official statement released by Texas upon declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft, via 247 Sports. “Next, I would like to thank my family, the entire Texas coaching staff and my teammates for helping me get to this point in my career. I’m so appreciative of Coach Shaka Smart for pushing me every day to improve and mature, both on the basketball court and as a person. I would also like to thank everyone else who has helped support me. Lastly, thank you to all the Longhorn fans and the people of Cincinnati who have been there cheering me on the whole way.”

Big men have become a large part of the early portion of the 2019 NBA Draft with former Duke Blue Devils standout Zion Williamson notably came off the board to the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 1 overall.