In the site’s G League WInter Showcase Preview piece, we mentioned that current Delaware Blue Coats wing Haywood Highsmith stands as one of the more intriguing players in the G League. That interest is due to how Highsmith has been able to go from being a start in Division II hoops to being one of the more well-rounded wings in the G League over the course of 2018. Currently, the 6’7 player is averaging 13.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1 steals on 42% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc on 4.7 attempts per game.
Shortly after Highsmith competed in the event in Vegas, Highsmith was gracious enough to talk to Ridiculous upside on a cornucopia of topics pertaining to his strong start to the G League season, recent tryout with the Philadelphia 76ers and expectations for the rest of the season.
However, those topics will be discussed in a future part. In this piece, Highsmith discusses his experience in Vegas during the Winter Showcase, journey to the Blue Coats and making the transition from Division II to the G League.
Ridiculous Upside: Both on and off-the-court, what was your experience like in Vegas during the Winter Showcase?
Haywood Highsmith: It was definitely a good experience for me being a young rookie in the G League that’s still trying to adjust to everything from the pace of play to change in lifestyle. Off-the-court, it was a great venue to have to the Showcase because there were a lot of people and scouts there. On the court, I had a lot of fun competing against all the great talent. While I obviously didn’t play to the standards that I wanted to but I played as hard as I could so it was a good experience for me.
RU: When you graduated from Wheeling Jesuit, did you imagine that you’d have an opportunity to play pro ball in Vegas and get to travel to different areas around the country?
Highsmith: That’s a good question. Graduating from Wheeling Jesuit, I definitely wanted to play professional basketball but I didn’t know where it would be. You know, I just tried to stick to a nice path to try to see what was out there for me and eventually I got here. I definitely pictured me playing somewhere but I didn’t imagine it would be in Vegas during December.
RU: After graduating, how did you eventually make your decision to try out for a G League team and why the Blue Coats?
Highsmith: It all started coming out of college where I obviously didn’t know where I was going to go. However, after I signed an agent, he told me that I could play in the G League and then possibly go to the NBA. I definitely thank the Sixers because they were one of the only organizations in the NBA to give me an opportunity when they invited me to their Summer League minicamp. It was kind of a heart breaking experience because I was one of the last guys to get cut but I still remained focused and stayed in the grind.
After I got cut, they called and said that they wanted me to be on our G League team as a local tryout player even though I technically didn’t have to try out. But I was definitely excited to be on a G League team because I think it’s the 2nd best league in the world. Then I got to training camp, tried to play the best that I could and now I’m here trying to make an impact every night.
RU: You talked about how you knew about the G League before this summer, did the sight of seeing a former D2 player like Jaylen Morris use the league to make the NBA make that decision easier for you?
Highsmith: I always kept an eye on the Division II players that were in the G League. Like you mentioned, Jaylen Morris was definitely a good example but I also watched Jamel Morris and Thomas Wimbush since they were in the same conference as me. Those three guys set the bar high for future D2 guys since they were all really productive for their given G League teams. I definitely feel like the G League is definitely looking more into D2 guys because they’re realizing that there’s a lot of talent out there.
RU: Did you talk to either Wimbush or Jamel Morris about the G League?
Highsmith: I talked to Jamel Morris a lot recently about his experience in the G League and how it was for him. Actually last week before the Showcase, he said that I needed to just be myself out on the court and make sure I’m vocal on the court, which was some pretty good advice. I’ve talked to WImbush after our game against Long Island and he just told me to keep grinding and that I was a good guy. So yeah, those guys reaching out to me was definitely big for my decision to go the G League route.
RU: What advice would you give to young players that are grinding in Division II ball that have their eyes set on reaching their dreams of playing pro ball?
Highsmith: My advice would be to try to get the best out of your experience wherever you’re at and just put the effort in every day. Some days are going to be hard while some are going to be easy, but at the end of the day the hard work that you put in is going to end up on the court.