Nigel Hayes-Davis is like an onion – the more layers you peel, the more interesting facts emerge. Source: Tolga Adanali/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Nigel Hayes-Davis is like an onion – the more layers you peel, the more interesting facts emerge. Source: Tolga Adanali/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Inventor and a vegan – who’s behind EuroLeague’s first 50-point game?

Basketball OlyBet 07.04.2024

There was only one person in the world who thought that Nigel Hayes-Davis would break the EuroLeague scoring record this season. Who? Hayes-Davis himself!

The Fenerbahce Istanbul player scored 50 points against ALBA Berlin last week, surpassing Shane Larkin’s record – the guard poured in 49 points against another German team Bayern Munich in 2019.

In the post-game interview, Hayes-Davis said he had written down before the season that he wanted to take the record this season. Nevertheless, his ascension to the throne is surprising, because although he is a great player, he is not known for his tremendous scoring performances. For example, before the ALBA match, his EuroLeague career-high was 26 points.

It would have been more sensible if a clear leader of his team, such as Larkin, Mike James, or Wade Baldwin, had broken the record. Or a highly skilled offensive player who is hard to stop when on fire – think of Markus Howard or Dzanan Musa.

However, it’s actually pretty cool that Hayes-Davis took the record. His work ethic is great, he’s one of the best forwards in the EuroLeague, who excels both on offense and defense. Plus, he’s just a very likeable person.

As Hayes-Davis isn’t as famous as James or Baldwin, who have been extensively covered in articles, let’s take the opportunity to learn more about the EuroLeague’s new record holder!

No breakthrough in the NBA

The now 29-year-old player spent his college years at the high-level Wisconsin, where he shared the team with some well-known players over four years, such as Sam Dekker (former NBA player, currently one of the best players in the EuroCup) and Frank Kaminsky (former NBA player, currently with Partizan Belgrade in the EuroLeague).

Hayes-Davis enjoyed great success with the Wisconsin Badgers, reaching the NCAA Final Four in 2015. They defeated Kentucky 71-64 in the semifinals, whose best weapon was current NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns. In the first NCAA final since 1941, Wisconsin lost 63-68 to Duke.

The year before, Hayes-Davis helped Wisconsin reach the Final Four, but there they lost to Kentucky by just one point in front of a crowd of 79,444, with Alex Poythress, who now represents Milan in the EuroLeague, showing his class in Kentucky’s ranks.

Over 150 games with the Badgers, Hayes-Davis averaged 12.4 points and 5.3 rebounds, which are respectable numbers, but nothing extraordinary. So it wasn’t a shock when the American went undrafted in the 2017 NBA draft.

Hayes-Davis in the 2017 NCAA Tournament:

However, his dream of playing in the world’s strongest league was not over. In the 2017/18 season, he made it onto NBA rosters and played his only games there. In the jerseys of the Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, and Sacramento Kings, he took to the court in nine games, averaging three points and 2.4 rebounds per game.

Without a roster spot in the NBA, moving to Europe was inevitable. Hayes-Davis’s first stop was the Turkish club Galatasaray in Istanbul, where he stood out both in the local championship and in the EuroCup, Europe’s second-strongest competition.

After such a good season, moving to the EuroLeague was another inevitability. The American was hired by Zalgiris Kaunas, where he played for two seasons, then went to Barcelona for a season and landed at Fenerbahce in the summer of 2022. The rest is history.

Hayes-Davis is an inventor

If you Google Nigel Hayes-Davis, you’ll find several interesting facts. For example, during his university years, he had an idea that was finally patented in 2023.

He came up with the idea for a small, portable cast-iron grilling tray that will cook hot dogs and toast buns. Hayes-Davis has identified a target audience: tailgaters. Per The Capital Times, it was pretty savvy on his part considering the tradition and popularity of tailgating for NFL team Green Bay Packers fans at Lambeau Field, MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers fans at American Family Field and, of course, Badgers fans at Camp Randall Stadium.

“I did a whole lot of makeshift engineering and met some people who were able to take the idea and bring it to life,’’ Hayes-Davis said. “I was able to come up with a portable grilling tray where you can cook hot dogs while you toast your bun and the bun won’t split (into two pieces) on you.”

“It’s an invention where I’m letting you know the problem that you have. But you may not perceive it as a problem. It’s more of a nuisance and I’m trying to eliminate that nuisance” he said. “Everyone who has seen it thinks it’s great. I just have to get more eyes on it and the right people to talk about it.’’

On a Lime Design podcast, Hayes-Davis brought up how people are conditioned to link certain cuisine with certain countries. When you talk about Italy, he offered, maybe you think of pasta. When you talk about Turkey, maybe you think of falafel. When you talk about America, what do you think of? Whether good or bad by his own admission, Hayes-Davis went with the hot dog.

Gets his stamina from nature

Hayes-Davis had big muscles and a few extra kilos when he graduated from college. He knew that professional basketball is much faster than the game played in college, and losing weight would be a wise decision. The forward typed “diets” into Google, and one of the responses was veganism.

Veganism has helped Hayes-Davis a lot, particularly with his ability to see a lot of playing time in most games. “It’s my secret weapon. I feel it gives me energy. I always feel great. I feel like I don’t get tired. And there’s people that say veganism is bad or it’s not that good. In my mind, it works. So I mean, that’s what it does for me. And I’m never one to tell anyone to be vegan. I would never tell someone,” he told in an interview with the EuroLeague.

Hayes-Davis has also attracted attention with his off-court activities. In his second year at Wisconsin, he participated in a press conference where he told Dekker and Kaminsky that a journalist was very beautiful. The innocent remark did not go unnoticed because the microphone was on.

By the way, Hayes-Davis was long simply Nigel Hayes, but in 2021, he decided to take his stepfather’s surname as well. In EuroLeague’s podcast, The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas, Fenerbahce’s star talked about his relationship with his mother Talaya and stepfather Albert.
“I talk about my stepfather all the time. And everyone’s like, “Oh, what about your mom?” But everyone knows that I love my mother dearly. Of course, I love my mother so much that in order to save my life, let’s say we’re walking down the street and I had to push my stepfather in front of a truck to save my mother, I wouldn’t even think about pushing him.

The reason why he’s so amazing is he would go before I could push him because he wouldn’t want me to feel bad about it, and he would care that much about my mother and myself. So, like, that’s the relationship. Like, I’d push him in front of a truck for my mom, but he would jump before I could push him,” Hayes-Davis said.

At the start of this season, Hayes-Davis adopted one of the kittens born in Fenerbahce’s arena. He named the cat Sly and chose it from among the other kittens thanks to its grey color.

“I had never adopted an animal before, so I was a bit apprehensive at first. Taking care of a cat is a significant responsibility. It requires treating them with maternal tenderness, attending to every aspect of their needs. Cats do charming things to ensure your affection. At times, a duality emerges within you. When you love them, they establish a marvelous equilibrium. There are moments when you might think, “Why did I adopt?” but I love my child very much,” Hayes-Davis stated during an interview with Hürriyet Daily News.

While we all knew that Hayes-Davis is undoubtedly a fantastic basketball player, now you understand why he’s one of the most fascinating characters playing in the EuroLeague.


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