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Rutgers men's basketball lands sharpshooting San Diego transfer P.J. Hayes

P.J. Hayes' three-point shooting will provide an instant spark for the Rutgers men's basketball team. – Photo by @rutgersmbb / Instagram

The Rutgers men’s basketball team has found its sharpshooter. The Scarlet Knights landed their fourth transfer portal addition of the offseason with the signing of forward P.J. Hayes on Wednesday.

It has been a long road to Rutgers for Hayes. After finishing high school in Waconia, Minnesota, Hayes played for three years at Division II Black Hills State University before transferring and playing this past season at San Diego. 

Upon entering the transfer portal for a second time this offseason, Hayes fielded interest from a plethora of other schools, including programs such as Texas A&M, Seton Hall and Virginia Tech.

Ultimately, Hayes chose the Banks as his new home.

"I could tell from the moment I got to New Jersey that this was a family," Hayes said. "I just knew that the coaches wanted what was best for me and they were looking out for my future as well.”

The 6-foot-6 forward brings many skills to the table, but above all is Hayes’ elite shooting stroke. This past season, he shot 39.7 percent from three on nearly six attempts per game. In his final season at the Division II level, he was even more impressive, shooting 45 percent from long distance, again, on nearly six attempts per game.

Hayes will instantly boost the Knights’ three-point shooting. 

Last season, Rutgers’ top two three-point shooters were Aundre Hyatt and Gavin Griffiths, who combined for 80 made threes. Hayes knocked down 73 three-pointers alone last season, nearly matching the top two Knights in the category. It is clear that Rutgers lacked shooters, and with the departures of Hyatt and Griffiths, that hole became even more prominent. Adding Hayes’ three-point prowess to the rotation should do wonders.

The Knights are loaded with scoring talent heading into next season, with five-stars Dylan Harper and Ace Bailey, as well as transfer guards Tyson Acuff and Jordan Derkack. While these players are all known for scoring in isolation, having a player like Hayes to roam the perimeter and kick out to for open catch-and-shoot looks will be crucial. 

Hayes is one of the best in the country at doing just that. His effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoot opportunities this past year was 64 percent, which placed him in the 94th percentile nationwide. He scored 1.13 points per possession (PPP) on spot-ups, good for the 82nd percentile.

Elite in essentially all shooting metrics, Hayes also ranked in the 88th and 78th percentiles in PPP on dribble handoffs and off of off-ball screens, respectively.

With the immense talent on Rutgers’ roster this upcoming season, Hayes should thrive as an off-ball player while defenses focus on the other high-level players surrounding him.

"I just know this team is going to be really good next year," Hayes said. "I think with my shooting ability, I can really space the floor for them and I know that they'll find me when I'm open. I haven't played with a program that has this much talent coming in, and I think I can help make these guys better than they already are."

With just one scholarship spot remaining now for the Knights, head coach Steve Pikiell and his staff's focus should be finding a big man in the portal.

For more updates on the Rutgers men’s basketball team, follow @TargumSports on X.

To view more of Camden Markel's work, follow @CamdenMarkel on X.

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