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Haywood Highsmith | "A lot of guys in the league are obviously trying to take that next step to the NBA so it’s a tough league to play in"

The journey to the NBA is different for all players. Some players are highly-touted and are drafted high in the NBA Draft to be franchise altering players. Some players are taken later in the draft and need to show these NBA franchises that they should be a part of the team’s future. For other players, it is a grind to even make it to the NBA. Haywood Highsmith falls squarely into this category.

Haywood Highsmith never had it easy to say the least. Highsmith had to take his talents to a lesser college to prove his worth and show off his skills against worse competition. Taking a different route than most prospects, Haywood had to play Division II and work his way to being an NBA prospect.

Haywood had to take the non traditional route to the NBA. He attended Wheeling University where he’d end up leaving his mark on the program. Highsmith ended up playing four years for the Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals. Highsmith, like he has his entire career, had to work his way up to earn his respect. It took most of his freshman season to earn a starting spot in the rotation.

Highsmith finally got his footing and was making a huge impact for the Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals. As a sophomore, Highsmith averaged 14.5 points and 9.4 rebounds and was named first team All-Mountain East Conference (MEC). Highsmith was improving and this was earning him recognition from the coaches and his peers. His character and perseverance were shining through as bigger things were ahead for him.

His junior season was equally as impressive as he earned second team All-MEC. Highsmith was a leader on his team and a player that the coaches trusted in big moments. Highsmith’s senior season was looking to be the best of his collegiate career. Highsmith was on some NBA radars as his talent was evolving with every season at Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals.

Highsmith’s senior season was his best and he garnered plenty of attention from the basketball world. He was named All-MEC, MEC Player of the Year, and MVP of the EC Conference Tournament. On a national level, Highsmith was named first team Division II All-American by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the National Player of the Year by the Division II Conference Commissioners Association.

Haywood Highsmith’s career and approach to basketball was all about improving and becoming the best basketball player possible to have a shot at the NBA. He went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft. He signed with the Delaware Blue Coats of the NBA G-League through a local team tryout.

Highsmith was signed to a two-way contract by the Philadelphia 76ers on January 8, 2019. Under the terms of the deal, he was able to split time between the 76ers and the Blue Coats. Highsmith made his NBA debut the same day, scoring three points in five minutes of play in a 132-115 win over the Washington Wizards, after also playing in a game for the Blue Coats against Raptors 905 earlier in the day.

Unfortunately he was waived by the 76ers but later on Highsmith signed with the Crailsheim Merlins of the Basketball Bundesliga. He averaged 8ppg and 5rpg.

On July 27, 2021, Highsmith signed with Vanoli Cremona of the Italian Lega Basket Serie A with an NBA exit option. As an Exhibit 10 offer arrived from the Philadelphia 76ers, he decided to withdraw from Cremona and return to the U.S to play his third stint with the Delaware Blue Coats.

How was college while attending Wheeling University for four years and playing for the Cardinals?

College at Wheeling was nice . Everybody knew everybody so it was like one big family. I wasn’t too far from home but far enough to become more independent. Loved all my years at wheeling.

You played a season in Germany for Hakro Merlins Crailsheim, how was that experience playing basketball overseas?

My first overseas experience was interesting for me . Definitely was an adjustment for me being so far from home and learning how to live my life overseas. Germany has some nice places that I got to visit as well.

Now currently playing for the Delaware Blue Coats, can you explain what the G-League level is like for people who may not follow it as much as they should?

The G-League is a grind . A lot of talent in the G-League for sure. A lot of guys in the league are obviously trying to take that next step to the NBA so it’s a tough league to play in.


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