SALT LAKE CITY — Seeing Gordon Hayward lead Butler to a pair of victories in EnergySolutions Arena last March en route to propelling the Bulldogs into the NCAA Tournament championship game thrilled local basketball fans.
However, the thought of seeing Hayward spending time in Utah on a more permanent basis did not, judging by the crowd reaction after the Jazz selected him with the ninth pick in the 2010 NBA Draft on Thursday evening.
A chorus of boos reverberated through the arena once season-ticket holder Forrest Fackrell read Hayward's name. A prediction by Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor that the fans would change their tune within two years was met with even louder boos.
Kamas resident David Taylor encapsulated the feelings of disgust felt by a large segment of the Jazz fanbase.
"I think it was a bad pick," Taylor said. "I can't believe it."
Taylor said that Utah should have gone for a big man who was still available, like Ed Davis or Patrick Patterson. After it failed to fill the need for a post player, Taylor thinks the team needs to aggressively target a free agent power forward or center next month.
"We definitely need some big bodies," Taylor said.
Some fans disagreed with the pick but trusted that maybe the Jazz coaches and front office could see something in Hayward that they were not seeing themselves.
"I wanted a center," Ogden resident Sarah Streeper said. "I don't think we need another forward. But I'm just a fan. I'm not Jerry Sloan. I have faith in it. I'll smile and cheer when I see him."
Still, not all fans walked away feeling like Utah had squandered away another first-round draft pick.
Ben Drabik, a Draper resident, was somewhat taken back by the crowd reaction because he thought Hayward had several qualities that fit nicely into Sloan's system back when he first saw him play here a few months ago.
"Everybody around me started booing, but I'm actually all for it," Drabik said. "I saw him playing when he was here for the NCAA Tournament. I thought he had a strong work ethic and a high basketball IQ — like they said on ESPN. So I think he's going to bring a lot of promise to the team."55 comments on this story
Fan reaction to the Hayward selection reminded South Jordan resident Rick Kitchens of what happened when Utah drafted John Stockton.
Kitchens sees nothing but positives coming from bringing Hayward to Utah. He believes that the newest Jazz rookie will be the second coming of Matt Harpring — with a better offensive game.
"He's an athletic Matt Harpring," Kitchens said. "He's got the hustle in him. He's got the heart. He's got the talent. He's got the leadership. If we don't trade him or make some stupid move to get rid of Andrei (Kirilenko), he is a perfect fit to replace Matt Harpring."