Kingsport Times News Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Memory Lane: Drew Hayworth

January 21st, 2007 9:39 pm by BILL LANE

Name: Drew Hayworth

Born: Oct. 17, 1978

Where: Goldsboro, N.C.

High School/College: Daniel Boone/Carson-Newman

Residence: Kingsport

Then: Drew Hayworth, who graduated in 1997, set the bar high for Daniel Boone's athletes.

As a four-year starter on the basketball team, he became the Trailblazers' all-time leading scorer with 1,832 points despite missing 25 games because of injuries.

That record still stands, as does his mark of nine 3-point goals in the Chattanooga Brainerd game at the 1996 Arby's Classic.

Hayworth was an outstanding all-around athlete, perhaps talented enough as a pitcher to have been selected in the Major League Baseball draft. But his passion was basketball.

He led the Appalachian Athletic Conference with a 27-point average in the 1996-97 season. Hayworth scored 39 against Morristown East in the Burger King Classic. In other games he had 36- and 33-point outputs, plus several others of 30 or more.

His shooting range? "Once I got off the bus,'' he replied. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound guard typically pulled the trigger from 22 feet.

"It was quite an experience playing for a winning coach like Bobby Snyder,'' he said. "I considered that an honor and a privilege. He was more interested in your spiritual life and classroom work than what you did on game nights.''

Hayworth played for the AAU Tennessee Travelers. As a 15-year-old competing against older players, he was on the team with future college stars Ron Mercer, Vincent Yarbrough, C.J. Black, Brandon Wharton and Dale Baker. Mercer went on to play in the NBA.

Tennessee, South Carolina, Wofford, Coastal Carolina and East Tennessee State showed an interest in signing Hayworth. He made an official visit to Virginia Tech, a trip that influenced him to accept a scholarship at Carson-Newman.

"While at Blacksburg, I saw in the game program that Virginia Tech had a 6-2 guard described as ‘a good four-year practice player.' I didn't want to be the next one,'' he said. "I wanted to go where I would play rather than sit on the bench. I'd always dreamed about playing college basketball, not practicing college basketball.''

Indeed, he got to play at Carson-Newman. Reconstructive knee surgery cost him an entire season but upon his return, Hayworth averaged 14 points and hit a career-high 31 against Tusculum.

With perimeter shooting his forte, he sank seven 3-pointers in one game.

"If I hit my first two field goal attempts,'' he said, "I knew it was going to be a good night. Teammates would look to me for shots.''

Hayworth played under two C-N head coaches, Dale Clayton and Tony Mitchell.

"The atmosphere and competition in the Division II South Atlantic Conference provided a good experience,'' Hayworth said. "Just being able to say I played college ball is gratifying.

"I miss the competition at both the high school and college levels. I enjoyed the fellowship of teammates and friends.''

Older brother Kyle also played for Boone. "I developed a worth ethic going against him in backyard brawls,'' Drew said. "Kyle made me work hard. There were lots of scuffles and bloody noses.''

Parents Denny and Karen were always supportive. "They were at 90 percent of my games but never coached me at home,'' he said. "My dad had two simple rules: 1, No drugs and 2, Stay out of trouble.'"

At Boone he made all-conference three years in basketball, two in baseball and three in golf. Hayworth was selected Northeast Tennessee's 1996-97 Male Athlete of the Year.

He was the school's No. 1 golfer for three years and, as a junior, became its first player to qualify for the state meet. The next year, he led the Trailblazers team to state. His best score was a nine-hole 33 at Graysburg.

Hayworth never reached his full potential in baseball. His top performance came as a junior in 1996, pitching Boone to a 6-2 victory over top-ranked and state tournament-bound Unicoi County.

Hayworth had an assortment of pitches: four-seam fastball, curveball, knuckleball and sidearm fastball. The curve, his most effective pitch, was wicked.

During a scouting showcase at Murfreesboro between his junior and senior years, Hayworth's fastball was clocked at 89 mph.

He abruptly gave up baseball as a senior, an obvious disappointment to coach Jerry Jenkins. The team had to play without its ace pitcher and best shortstop.

Jenkins realized it would require time for him to make the physical transition to baseball.

"He told me to take some time off after basketball season,'' Hayworth explained. "While getting my arm loose and working on fundamentals, I missed two games. Players were disgruntled that I hadn't been there to play against Unicoi County and complained to me about it.''

Under those circumstances, he felt it wasn't worthwhile to spend two months on the diamond when he could be in the gym preparing for college.

As a 15-year-old, he pitched the Knoxville Stars to the World Series. The team placed second at Crystal Lake, Ill. Hayworth's record there was 3-0.

"I walked away from baseball because I never really saw myself as a pro prospect,'' he said. "Looking back, I do have some regrets. There has been some wondering as to what might have been. But I met my wife in college and got a degree in business management.''

Now: Hayworth will be joining the work force at Primester, an Eastman Chemical Co. partner, later this month.

He is married to the former Jessica Bledsoe of Jonesville, Va. She teaches at Colonial Heights Middle and coaches cross country and girls basketball there.

Hayworth plays amateur basketball and softball, and coaches youth basketball and baseball.

Bill Lane is a Times-News sports writer. E-mail him at

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