"We came down to Gainesville together last week for a visit and he loved it," said Hayes' Suwannee high school coach Jeremy Ulmer. "I talked long and hard with him after the visit and told him that unless he's 100% sure he shouldn't commit. But if he was 100% sure then he should commit."
Hayes took his coach's advice to heart and spent the next several days thinking over his options.
"Florida was his dream school and he told me he was ready," Ulmer said. "I called Billy Donovan and told him that Kevarrius had something to tell him, then I handed him the phone."
And with that, the 6-foot-8, 190-pound Hayes was a Gator.
Although Florida was Hayes' only offer at the time of his commitment, he was also receiving interest from Alabama, Kansas State, Miami and Mercer. But the Live Oak sophomore felt UF had something special to offer.
"I've always wanted to go to Florida, it's the perfect mix for me," the soft spoken Hayes said. "I want to progress in the medical field and be a surgeon and Florida has a great Medical School. When we visited the coaches showed how they would use me and they showed progression pictures of how the strength and conditioning program developed players. Not that they just got bigger, but that they got stronger and gained individual improvement as well as improvement for the team."
As with many in-state targets, Hayes' lead recruiter was Florida assistant coach Matt McCall.
"Coach McCall is really nice," said Hayes. "He took us on a tour of campus in the golf cart, and we watched some video of the 2004 Final Four. We also watched some players work out and Coach McCall spends time with the players; he likes to work out with them. Coach McCall showed us some drills they do. He's a good coach."
In Hayes Florida gets a long, bouncy athlete that runs the court well, attacks for rebounds, and plays good defense. When Inside The Gators saw him at the Nike Team Florida "Workout" last fall we felt Hayes had all the intangibles and that when his offense catches up to the rest of his game he had the potential to be special.