When handing out scholarships to middle schoolers, eyebrows tend to get raised. But when dealing with Hailee Swain, it would be wise to board the hype train as early as possible.
On Thursday morning, Swain, an eighth-grader at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal down in Atlanta, GA, announced that she had picked up an offer from the Kentucky Wildcats. It’s already her third Divison I offer, with the previous two coming from Xavier and Ole Miss in March. While it might shock some fans of the Big Blue Nation to see a 14-year old pick up an offer from multiple high-level programs, Swain is more than worth the excitement.
Thank you! @UKCoachLZ @UKWBBRecruiting I’m honored for the opportunity. @JillNoe @HubbardCoach @TDNike @swainbasketball @HILadyBears @BrandonClayPSB @ChrisHansenPSB @CGBR27 @RayCwell100 @TheGirlsCircuit pic.twitter.com/ixNZQ7y8PS
— Hailee Swain (@HaileeSwain) April 15, 2021
“Hailee Swain, she’s one of those generational talent kids,” Chad Hubbard, the director of Swain’s AAU squad Team Elite, told KSR. “Her intangibles, she can shoot the ball pretty good for her age, she can handle the ball, she’s very skilled. She’s a gym rat and her dad [Robert Swain] is a trainer. He’s trained a lot of pros, Power 5, college athletes–he played for UConn. She comes from a good cloth.”
Standing at 5-foot-7, Swain is built to play the point guard position. Her handles are impressive for someone her age and her quickness is unorthodox. She doesn’t appear out of place by any stretch of the imagination when matched up against older girls. In fact, Coach Hubbard said that Swain practices with the Team Elite U17 and U16 rosters and more than holds her own. Oftentimes she’s even leading the way.
“Very skilled–left-hand, right-hand. Can handle the ball with the best of them,” Coach Hubbard said about Swain. “She can shoot it pretty good in her age group. What she does well now is she can run a team, get everybody involved and get hers at the same time. Her biggest attribute right now is she is very coachable. Very coachable. Great attitude and quick as lightning. As far as what she needs to work on, improvement will come as the years go by. Right now I would say her weakness is she’s just young. And as you get older, her weaknesses now will be her strengths.”
The unusual attention directed toward Swain has put a bit of a target on her back, which “comes with the territory,” Coach Hubbard said with a chuckle. It’s not every day a kid still in 8th grade earns a major Power 5 offer, although Kentucky has done this before. ZaKiyah Johnson, who plays for Shelby County in Kentucky, received an offer from then-head coach Matthew Mitchell when she was about to enter her eighth-grade year back in the summer of 2020.
It’s not a scenario that happens often, and it could force additional stress onto a young player not accustomed to the spotlight, but Swain was made for this.
“Very unique [situation], but I think she’s handled it well,” Coach Hubbard added. “She’s got a good foundation with her mom and dad. They’re familiar with the process. She’s a humble kid, very humble kid. And at the end of the day, she’s still a kid.”
Following the Kentucky offer, Coach Hubbard said that several schools had reached out to him shortly after. This offer from the ‘Cats wasn’t anything out of the blue, either. Swain has been making stops in Lexington for years now.
“Hailee’s been going to Kentucky since before [Matthew Mitchell] left,” Coach Hubbard said. “Her dad took her to a couple of games.”
Hubbard added that he’s been in contact with Kentucky assistant coach Niya Butts, who is also from Georgia, in regards to Swain’s recruitment. He’s hoping to hear from head coach Kyra Elzy soon. A current member of the Kentucky roster, junior guard Robyn Benton, also played for Coach Hubbard on Team Elite during her high school days.
While Swain, Coach Hubbard, and the rest of Team Elite did not travel until September of last season due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, they do plan on participating in the Boo Williams Summer League event later this month before traveling to Las Vegas a couple of weeks later for another event.
Swain was able to rack up Divison I offers despite COVID-19 shaking up the recruiting world. Now she’s ready to show the rest of the country why she’s worth an offer from Kentucky.