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Yuba City's Hayes signs with Dominican

Yuba City High's Matt Hayes spent four years doing most of his damage at Honker Gym with a basketball.

On the brown and gold hardwood of Y.C.'s home court, Hayes authored one of the top prep hoops careers in school history.

On Thursday, Hayes performed his final act as a Honker basketball player on the home hardwood, though didn't require the use of a Wilson regulation-size basketball — he only needed a pen.

The Yuba City senior inked his name on a national letter of intent to play Division-II NCAA basketball for Dominican University of California in a ceremony at Honker Gym.

Previously an NAIA program, Dominican began the transition to D-II in 2008 and is now a member of the Pacific West Conference.

The San Rafael-based university is a private Catholic institution, considered among the most elite academic colleges in the west.

Hayes, who plans on majoring in biology, holds a 4.4 GPA and said the balance of athletics and academics at Dominican stood out to him among the other schools that recruited him.

"It was a complete school," Hayes said. "I think in the long run we could be pretty good and, at the same time, I'll get a great education."

The Penguins finished 10-8 in conference play last season and 11-18 overall.

Hayes has been awarded a combined academic and athletic scholarship worth around $50,000 per year.

He'll play shooting guard and should see significant playing time as a true freshman next season, a big reason he chose Dominican over some more well-known programs.

Hayes also had high interest from Simon Fraser University, Humboldt State, University of Pacific, San Francisco State and UC San Diego.

Dominican coach Booker T. Harris could not comment on Hayes' signing due to NCAA regulations that restrict coaches from speaking about a recruit until paperwork has officially been processed.

On one of his visits to San Rafael, Hayes was able to practice with the Penguins to get a feel for their style of play. He said it was a perfect fit.

"I like how they move the ball and I think that's what I was looking for the most," Hayes said. "I took my tour as a student, so I was also able to see things from that perspective. This school has the full repertoire." So does Hayes.

He ended his career at Yuba City as the school's all-time scoring leader (1,406 points). This year, he ranked fifth in the Sac-Joaquin Section with 23.4 points per game and his 12.4 rebounds-per-game average ranked seventh in the section.

Of course, the facet of his game that garnered the most interest from collegiate programs was his lengthy shooting range, as he drained a section-best 95 3-pointers.

Coach Brian Davis said Hayes' physicality and basketball IQ make him perfect for college basketball.

"He's not just a shooter," Davis said. "He has that D-I, D-II body style where he can get in the paint and mix it up with people."

Among his numerous high school accolades, Hayes was the Tri-County Conference MVP the past two seasons. Hayes was the Appeal-Democrat's two-time All-Area Player of the Year and made the Sacramento Bee's All-Metro second team.

Hayes' roommate next year will be Bella Vista High product and fellow All-Metro pick K.J. Logue, who also signed with the Penguins.

Hayes said he can't wait until the team's first practice this fall when they open the season with "Midnight Madness," a 12 a.m. session to celebrate the opening of basketball season.

"I'm just looking forward to the whole college experience," Hayes said. "It's nice to see the hard work I put in turn into this."

Speakers at Thursday's festivities included Yuba City High teacher and Sutter County District 4 Supervisor Jim Whiteaker, Superintendent Nancy Aaberg and Davis, who said he's looking forward to making the transition from being Hayes' coach to No. 1 fan.

"I couldn't be more proud of him," Davis said.

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