Men's basketball players excited for opportunity to play on NBA court

Jeffrey Hayden in action during a December 2015 game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Jeffrey Hayden in action during a December 2015 game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — Jeffrey Hayden scored a game-high 21 points at Barclays Center as a freshman back on Dec. 1, 2015. Now, Hayden and his NYIT men's basketball teammates are making a return visit to the NBA court.

And Hayden is eagerly awaiting Wednesday's 1:30 p.m. tip-off against Assumption at Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets as well as the NHL's Islanders.

"It was mesmerizing," Hayden recalled about his last experience at the arena, which came in an 85-64 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas two seasons ago. "I had never played on an NBA court before."

NYIT enters Wednesday's game coming off a 71-58 victory against Molloy that earned the Bears their first East Coast Conference win this season.

Hayden is the only current NYIT player to have appeared in the game at Barclays Center two seasons ago.

"I don't know if any of these guys have played on a pro court before," Hayden said. "I know they're definitely going to bring all the energy and enthusiasm we need to win."

Second-year NYIT head coach Kevin Hamilton said his goal is for the Bears to play on a professional court, primarily Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum, at least once a season.

"Just being in that atmosphere, hopefully it will motivate the guys to play better and to their potential," point guard Kieran Hamilton said.