Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Kimetria "Nae-Nae" Hayden only played six games her entire senior year of high school, due to a torn ACL in her right knee. Many players at that time in their career might not have been motivated to work hard to recover from that injury. Hayden, however never gave up, hoping that one day she would be able to play college basketball.
Despite her injury, she was looked at by seven different Big 12 schools including Baylor.
"I came to Baylor because it was close to home and I loved the coaching staff and the potential to win a national title," Hayden said.
In her freshmen year at Baylor, she played 36 games and was named the team's most improved player. Hayden came off the bench in the first 24 outings and started eight of the last 12.
Playing as a young player brought about many struggles, including the transition from high school to college.
"Offense was a struggle because in high school I was one of the taller players and was able to post up, but now I'm playing against players who are taller than me," Hayden said. "Defense was also a struggle because at this level everyone is so much quicker."
It didn't take long for Hayden to catch on to the speed of the college game. However, she still had to adjust to not being the leader on the team like she was in high school. By her sophomore year, Hayden had adapted to the type of play that head coach Kim Mulkey wanted.
She ended up being the starting point guard for the first nine games of the 2011 season and finished the year with 26 starts in 37 games.
"She brings a lot of athletic ability to our team and as a perimeter player she brings a lot of height," Mulkey said. "She also has the ability to penetrate the defense."
Hayden also chose Baylor, because of her admiration of Mulkey.
"Kim Mulkey is a great coach," she said. "Just the way she carries herself and the love she has for winning create a winning environment."
The winning attitude has propelled the Lady Bears to a Final Four appearance in 2010 and an Elite Eight run in 2011.
When it comes to motivation Hayden and the Lady Bears don't have a problem finding it. Playing for Mulkey brings about enough motivation.
Despite the injury that she had her senior year of high school, Hayden is now playing a big part on a team that is looking to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament this coming March.