What is your full name and where are you from?
My name is Oliver Hayward, and I was born and raised in Auckland!
Why did you choose the game of basketball?
I decided when I was about 13 that basketball was the route I was completely ready to go down! I loved the environment, from the team talks to the locker rooms! You make connections as well as keeping your body fit and healthy! Most of all I just fell in love with the game itself!
What schools did you attend? and what were your achievements and highlights?
I attended Northcote college and spent my whole high school time there, and I was looking forward to heading over to Midland College! Midland college is a Junior college in Texas, I was on scholarship to play for their basketball programme, but unfortunately with the recent events occurring my trip has been delayed! Signing the dotted line was one of the greatest achievements I’ve experienced, with all that hard work I had put in, it was good to know it was all worth it!
You are a role model for young men, what advice do you have for them getting into basketball?
I would say for all the young ballers out there, just be a dog, by that I mean fight for everything you get! Never take anything for granted, fight for what you believe you deserve, don’t give up, because there will be hard times! Always set a higher goal, because once you reach your initial goal the only way you should be looking is up, reach that next goal, never be satisfied!
What has been the ultimate highlight so far in your career?
Signing the paper to announce that I had received a scholarship was amazing, but I also have loved learning from all the experienced players, and picking their brains for information, and things that will help in the long run! People like Leon Henry or Tohi Smith-Milner from the huskies, it was a privilege to train along side guys with great basketball I.Q
Who has been your biggest influence in basketball and why?
As a kid I always looked up to Kobe Bryant, he was the guy I always looked to as what I wanted to be like and how I wanted to represent myself! Kobe never backs down and his mentality is something I believe everyone should live by!
Who is the ultimate men’s basketball player in New Zealand?
I believe that the ultimate doesn’t mean they have to be the greatest player, a player needs to possess leadership and be a smart player on court as well! Which is why I respect Mika Vukona so much, he is so knowledgeable, and a great player who inspired kids like me to keep pushing, I believe he is one of the greats in nz basketball!
In terms of your playing career, what would be the pinnacle for you?
I would love one day to play professionally overseas, it doesn’t matter where but I would be blessed if I could make a living doing what I love!
Whats the best pair of basketball shoes you have owned?
I honestly believe the cheaper end Nike stock is a lot better to play in then all the big name brands, I have a pair of nikes I found on a clearance shelf, I don’t know the name of the shoe, but they are the most comfy shoes and best I’ve had to play in!
Congratulations on an amazing season with the Huskies. What were the highlights for you?
I just believe picking the brains of the more experienced players was such a big part of the experience for me! It elevates your game knowing the knowledge that these guys teach! It’s also great coming up against athletic guys who challenge you as a player!