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Canyon’s Hayden verbally commits to Texas Tech

Posted: May 3, 2017 - 2:17pm

Canyon’s Joe Lombard treads lightly with the statement.

Angel Hayden is, arguably, one of the top guards to put on a Lady Eagles girls basketball uniform.

The Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer and longtime Canyon head coach, who has garnered 13 state titles at the helm of the program, feels confident in making the comment about a special frontcourt talent.

“I think it’s fair to say that she’s one of the best players to come out of Canyon,” Lombard said. “You can look at her record as a player, or anything that you want to, and realize that she’s a one-of-a-kind athlete. … Texas Tech is getting a player that can help develop a winning culture.”

More people will get to see what Lombard us talking about as Hayden committed to play basketball with Texas Tech. Hayden, a late Class of 2017 addition who was garnering interest from several Division I and Division II schools after the season, is scheduled to sign her national letter of intent Tuesday.

“It was right after the state title game that the interest started,” Lombard said of Texas Tech’s recruitment. “I think she wanted to stay a little bit close to home, and had a chance to play at West Texas A&M and would have been a hometown favorite. But, having the chance to play Division I basketball is something she couldn’t pass up.”

The three-time Class 5A State Tournament Most Valuable Player and the 2017 Class 6A/5A Girls Basketball State Player of the Year finished her Lady Eagles hoops career with four-straight state championships and a perfect 28-0 record in the postseason.

“She’s got the God-given ability to handle pressure,” said Lombard, who coached Lady Raiders head coach Candi Whitaker at Canyon. “She loves to rising to the occasion and is the ultimate gamer.”

During the 2017 playoffs, Hayden provided a constant scoring threat and turned in a stellar 29-point effort, including an 11 for 13 mark at the free-throw line, in the 5A state semifinals against Mont Belvieu Barbers Hill.

More so, she developed into a closer for the Lady Eagles late in games — shooting at a 90 percent clip from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter during Canyon’s postseason run.

“That’s one of the things she improved on, her outside shooting and free-throw shooting,” Lombard said. “She turned into a clutch player for us in crunch time.”

Hayden culminated a 31-3 senior campaign by recording 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and the steals as Canyon won the 5A state championship at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

On the year, she averaged 14 points per contest but improved that number to 18 to 19 points during the postseason.

In her four-year with the Lady Eagles, Hayden helped Canyon accumulate a record of 134-11.

“She made fewer mistakes and deferred to her teammates,” Lombard said. “She’s very unselfish and will get the ball to the right part of the court.”

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