Hayden Baughman is excited.
He’s also at ease.
The McDonell senior signed his letter of intent on Tuesday afternoon to play college basketball at Concordia University in Saint Paul, Minnesota, a Division II school in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
The 6-foot-6 Baughman is thrilled because his collegiate future is secured and at ease because he found the school he wanted during the process and can now focus on his senior basketball campaign with the Macks.
“I’m super relieved,” Baughman said. “The past couple years I’ve really been thinking about where I want to go and where I could go and play and I think this is a great opportunity for me to go play basketball at a higher level. I’m really excited.”
After playing off the bench for McDonell during his freshman season in 2014-15, Baughman took a big step forward in his sophomore campaign, scoring in every game while averaging more than 11 points and six rebounds per contest, earning second team All-Western Cloverbelt Conference accolades as the Macks won a Division 5 state championship.
Last season Baughman stuffed the stat sheet again, averaging 15.5 points, seven rebounds and more than one block and steal per contest as the Macks won the program’s second straight sectional championship before falling in the Division 5 state semifinals. Baughman was a Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Division 5 first team all-state selection to go with first team all-conference and All-Chippewa County accolades.
The athletic wing player has developed his shooting through his last few years, but coach Archie Sherbinow said it was the improvement by Baughman at the defensive end that has been the most impressive.
“He’s really taken strides in his defense and taken a lot of pride in that in becoming a better defender and helping on other team’s best player without getting in foul trouble,” Sherbinow said.
Baughman quickly grew to love the Concordia coaching staff after visiting and said that and the location were key factors in committing to the program.
“The coaching staff were a really nice group of guys,” Baughman said. “I thought they were really pleasant and friendly and I enjoyed being around them.”
Sherbinow said Baughman’s game has developed in a way that will serve him well next season and could also be in line for an impactful senior season.
“I still think he’s going to have a big year this year,” Sherbinow said. “With the teams we’ve had in the past, we’ve had a lot of good players and he’s done well sharing the ball and making sure we played team-orientated basketball. So maybe his stats didn’t shine as good as they could’ve and this year we’ll still keep that team aspect in mind, but he’ll definitely have the starring role in that.”
The first day of boys basketball practice was Monday and Baughman and the Macks got back to work as the program looks to contend for at least a share of its third straight conference title as it also goes for its third consecutive trip to state.
That won’t come easy as the Macks have graduated a large and decorated senior class from last season’s trip to state. But Baughman believes the team has the ability to be a threat again, it’ll just take time and some experience.
“My hope is we can all come together as a team and everyone can develop as a player as a team and we’ll make a nice run in the playoffs, maybe win a conference championship,” Baughman said.
“The past couple years I’ve really been thinking about where I want to go and where I could go and play and I think this is a great opportunity for me to go play basketball at a higher level. I’m really excited.” Hayden Baughman, McDonell senior