May 31, 2024 

Aces add former All-Star Tiffany Hayes to bolster guard depth

Formerly-retired Hayes will boost Las Vegas' depleted backcourt as the Aces await Chelsea Gray's return

Many Las Vegas Aces fans woke up to a surprise on Friday as the team announced they had signed former All-Star Tiffany Hayes to a rest of season contract. Hayes had announced her retirement from the WNBA in December, and now brings a veteran scoring presence to the Aces bench. Hayes, a graduate of UConn, is an 11-year veteran of the league who played 10 seasons with Atlanta before spending last season with Connecticut.

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“Joining the Aces will be very exciting for me,” said Hayes in a statement. “I’m just grateful that they are willing to work with me as I am diving headfirst into a new era in my life. It will be nice to experience the west coast and this organization as I join them on the road to another winning season. I have no doubts that there is something special brewing, and I’m just another great ingredient being added to the mix. Let’s go Aces!”

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Hayes has been a dynamic scoring guard in the WNBA since she was drafted with the 14th overall pick back in 2012. She has averaged double figures every year of her career but one. Her best year was back in 2018 when she averaged 17 points and was named to the All-WNBA first team. Last year with Connecticut, she averaged 12 points, three rebounds and 2.6 assists.

Connecticut Sun guard Tiffany Hayes (15) after sinking a 3-point shot during the 2023 WNBA Semi-final game between the New York Liberty and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on October 01, 2023. (Photo Credit: Chris Poss / The Next)

Hayes last year put up a career high 105 assists as she took on a makeshift point guard role for the Sun, sharing the backcourt with Natisha Hiedeman. She also tied a career high in both threes made and taken while shooting 37% from beyond the arc. Hayes was the Sun’s fourth leading scorer, but had to step up when Brionna Jones went down with an Achilles injury.

“We’re really excited about her,” Aces head coach Becky Hammon said. “Being that we don’t know the exact date for [Chelsea Gray, who has been injured since Game 3 of the 2023 WNBA Finals], we felt like we needed to add another guard that had some experience. I know she had announced her retirement, but I thought she was kind of very specific about the WNBA. If you know me, we’re gonna shoot our shot. So, we called, even though she had said she was retiring and had a great conversation with her. She’s somebody who’s given us buckets in the past. She’s a super tough guard, plays both ends of the floor. So that depth for us is just huge, and we’re excited to get it out there and running with our group. I think she’ll fit in great. It was just an attempt to lengthen our bench a little bit and we’re super happy she said yes. And took our phone call.”

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Hayes should fit right in with the Aces. She is a great scorer and can play both the point guard and shooting guard spot. With Chelsea Gray out right now, Hayes will most likely be used to spell Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young while continuing to give the Aces a scoring punch from the guard position. She also showed last year that she is capable of being a playmaker, so she can probably play point guard in a pinch.

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Connecticut Sun guard Tiffany Hayes (15) reacts during a WNBA playoff game against the Minnesota Lynx at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on Sept. 13, 2023. (Photo credit: Chris Poss / The Next)

The bigger question that remains is how long will it take for Hayes to be ready. She retired in December, so it’s unknown what kind of shape she is in. Hammon is going to want her to come in and play sound defense, so it may take time for her to play at full speed with the team. Hayes won’t play on Friday against Atlanta and the Aces’ next game after that isn’t until Wednesday. Hammon says they want to get her in on the team’s next road trip, which starts in Dallas.

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Hayes will also most likely come off the bench, even with Gray still injured. For the moment, Hammon likes Alysha Clark in that third guard spot as a starter, since it gives the Aces more size. Hayes came off the bench during the majority of the first two years of her career, but hasn’t done that much since. For now, Hayes brings a veteran presence to a depleted Aces backcourt, and as she gets her legs under her, will be a dangerous threat for the Aces the rest of the season.

“I’m super excited. Tiff is an established vet in this league and a three level scorer,” Clark said. “To be able to add that to the roster that we already have, to add another veteran presence is going to be huge as we get into the grind of the season, as we get into moving forward trying to get ourselves back into the playoff situation. I’m super excited to have her, she’s a competitor, she’s fiery, a friend of mine, so I’m excited to have her in the locker room and on the court”

Written by Matthew Walter

Matthew Walter covers the Las Vegas Aces, the Pac-12 and the WCC for the Next. He is a former Director of Basketball Operations and Video Coordinator at three different Division I women's basketball programs.

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