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Hayward will attend Marquette next fall

Lazar Hayward is in his second year of prep school after graduating from Traditional in 2004. Next fall he'll be playing in the Big East.

Hayward verbally committed to Marquette University on Monday following a weekend visit to the school in Milwaukee. The 6-foot-5, 202-pound Hayward is at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., after averaging 24 points per game last year as Notre Dame went 25-11.

"When I went out to visit, the players and I just clicked right away and the facilities were really nice," said Hayward. "Head coach Tom Crean -- he's a tough coach and he'll get the best out of me. And I'm going to play as a freshman and be a go-to guy. When they need to score they'll put the ball in my hands."

Hayward was an All-Western New York second-team selection in 2004 after averaging 26 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals in leading Traditional to the Class B state semifinals. Hayward, who increased his stock by playing summer basketball with Buffalo's G.C. Ballers, said he selected Marquette over Syracuse, Connecticut, Providence, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and Virginia.

"When Lazar left Traditional, the only offer was from Fredonia," said G.C. Ballers coach Jeff Bishop. "At prep school he really worked his tail off. He got bigger, got stronger and worked on his SAT scores."

Marquette will play its first season in the Big East this year. The Golden Eagles have made five postseason appearances in Crean's seven years, including advancing to the 2003 Final Four behind current Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade.

Hayward joins a list of Western New York basketball players who have committed to Big East schools. Paul Harris, playing his senior year with Hayward at Notre Dame this season, and current Niagara Falls junior Jonathan Flynn have verbally committed to Syracuse. Niagara Falls graduate Robert Garrison, a freshman at UConn, will battle for Huskies' starting point guard spot next month.

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com

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