Hutchinson Community College guard Samajae Haynes-Jones is likely to break into song at almost any time — while in the locker room, on the team bus, at a meal.
“He might be the worst singer on the team, but he thinks he’s the best and he thinks he has the best dance moves,” teammate James Conley said. “He’ll sing anything,”
Meek Mill. Future. Rihanna.
“I’ll be bored some times, just having fun with my teammates,” he said.
“He cannot sing,” coach Steve Eck said. “Do not let him sing on the bus.”
Haynes-Jones gladly took all that teasing on Wednesday after signing a letter of intent with Wichita State. While his pipes may be in question, his basketball talent will bring him back home for the 2017-18 season. He won the 2015 Class 6A title at Koch Arena for East High before attending Hutchinson.
“I like how they run the program and it really fits me,” he said. “It’s a dream come true, really. Being able to play back at home is even better.”
Haynes-Jones (6-foot, 170 pounds) averaged 11.7 points and 2.3 assists for No. 6 Hutchinson through the first three games and went 8 of 13 from three-point range. That shooting touch is the product of many sessions in the Hutchinson Sports Arena and on the unforgiving, extra-thick rims at the playground outside Elland Hall.
“Samajae is the hardest-working player I’ve stepped on the court with,” Conley said. “If (practice) doesn’t end well, he’ll stay up and get some extra shots up. He even goes outside to the dorms and shoots on the double-rims (at Elland Hall). We always laugh about that, because you know you have a real jump shot if you can make one out there. He can.”
Practice time is limited in the Sports Arena, which is under renovation. Haynes-Jones recently joined a nearby YMCA to fulfill his need for gym time.
“I’m going there at 6 a.m., working out, doing little things that can help my game,” he said. “I know when I get in a game I can hold anybody. I’m putting in a lot of hours. I do all the dirty work, so I know I can compete.”
He averaged 15.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists as a freshman. He made 49.9 percent of his shots, 37.2 percent from three-point range. At East, he earned All-State honors in 2015 after averaging 15.6 points.
“He’s definitely a gym rat,” Eck said. “He keeps me up, because he wants in that gym all the time. There are some guys who want to go Division I and kind of fake it. There are other guys who love it. He loves it.”
Haynes-Jones said he also received interest from East Tennessee State, coached by former WSU assistant Steve Forbes, Louisville, Robert Morris, Houston, SMU and Cincinnati.
WSU also received a letter from Asbjorn Midtgaard, a 6-11, 264-pound center who plays for the Horsholm 79ers in Denmark. In five games, he is averaging 10 points and 9.8 rebounds, shooting 52.8 percent from the field.
Volleyball — WSU received a letter of intent from setter Kora Kauling (6-2) of Neuqua Valley (Ill.)
Women’s basketball — Allen (Texas) junior guard Jada Peacock announced her non-binding commitment to WSU on Twitter. As a member of the class of 2018, she cannot sign until 2017.
Baseball — According to Twitter feeds, Southlake (Texas) Carroll catcher Ross Caden, pitcher Ryan Steumpfig of Flower Mound (Texas), utility player Bryce McDermott of Piedmont (Okla.) and pitcher Jacob Lindemann of Burlington (Wisc.) signed with WSU on Wednesday.
Softball — WSU signed six players, four of them who may pitch. Blue Valley Southwest’s McKenzie Weber, Hailey Martinez of Inver Grove Heights (Minn.) and Caitlin Bingham of Tecumseh (Okla.) will pitch for the Shockers, who lose seniors Jenni Brooks and Kaitlyn Malone after the 2017 season. WSU also added catcher Ashton Esparza from Allen (Texas), utility player/pitcher Neleigh Herring of Chandler (Okla.) and outfielder Bailee Nickerson of North Lamar High in Sumner, Texas.