A Fair shake
Trust in each other helps Fair, Hayden succeed at Central
The tipping point in Trey Fair’s basketball career came shortly after his sophomore year.
After the Central High School boys finished with zero wins and 24 losses, Fair got into an argument with then first-year coach Ryan Hayden. The two hadn’t meshed, and Fair’s confidence was flailing.
Two years later, Fair will likely be a first-team All-Southwestern League selection for the second time. The 6-foot-2 senior forward is currently first in rebounding (7.3 per game) and second in scoring (16.1) in the league and could finish as the SWL’s top rebounder for the second straight season.
Although Fair has played during some lean years in the Central program, it’s a no-brainer that Fair is a talented basketball player. But the confidence and discipline didn’t always match his talent.
Playing varsity basketball during his freshman year, Fair said he didn’t shoot the ball because he didn’t have confidence in his ability. During his sophomore year, Taylor Sanchez carried the offensive load. That all changed between Fair’s sophomore and junior years. Hayden, entering his second year as the Warriors’ coach, said he saw potential in Fair not only as a basketball player but also as an off-the-court leader.
Fair said during his junior year, reassurance from Hayden and the seniors allowed his confidence to match his skill.
The result was a breakout season for both Fair and the Warriors.
“Coach basically told me that I was a central part of the team moving forward,” Fair said. “He told me that I was going to be the one leading us. I didn’t really notice it until the middle of the season, being the leading scorer and having the seniors telling me I need to score the ball. It felt good that they trusted me and I kind of felt that role come into play.
“It basically happened during the Warrior Challenge. Me and some of the seniors didn’t really get along off the court. But during the Warrior, on the court, me and some of the seniors meshed pretty well. They basically told me that they were going to get me the ball and that they trusted me. It was honestly some of the seniors I didn’t expect to trust me, and that did a lot for my confidence.”
The Warriors, one year after going winless, finished 9-14. Central went 4-6 in the Southwestern League, beating reigning league champion Fruita Monument twice.
Fair had a standout performance during Central’s first win over Fruita Monument, a 54-52 overtime thriller that ended on a layup at the buzzer. Fair finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds, shooting 85 percent from the field. It was the Warriors’ first win over a local Class 5A team in two years, and the first win over Fruita Monument since the 2008-09 season.
Hayden said he saw Fair’s potential during his first year coaching the Warriors.
“Coming in as a first-year coach and not really knowing what you’re getting into, Trey was one of those kids you realize quickly that you can build around,” Hayden said.
“You can build offensive sets around him and do some things on defense around him. Just in X’s and O’s — I mean, I tease Trey sometimes that I see him more than my own son because he’s always there — he just absorbs the mental aspects of the game.
“He’s at everything in the offseason. He’s at the mandatory stuff and the non-mandatory stuff. He puts together team breakfasts. I mean, he’s just done so much for the program.”
Hayden said without Fair, the program wouldn’t have grown.
“Trey’s buy-in to the program has been essential,” Hayden said. “I think sometimes it takes that one guy to test the waters. He had a good group of seniors around him last year that really bought in.
“I’ll tell you with Trey, we didn’t really bond until the offseason (before his junior year). I took the job late during that first year, and I didn’t really get a chance to have an offseason with that first group so it was kind of a tough situation all around.
“But that first offseason is what really got the ball rolling. We didn’t really mesh the first year, but during that offseason I think we clicked. He’s a lefty, I’m a lefty. We found out we had more in common than we thought.”
After that rocky start, Hayden said Fair became a coach on the floor. His message reaches everyone faster, Hayden added, when someone on the floor is saying the same thing.
“It was nice having someone saying the same things I was because then you don’t have to say the same things over and over,” Hayden said. “Kids listen to other kids. Off the court, Trey’s not a punk. He has integrity. He does things the right way. I think other kids see that and respect that.”
Fair, who has received interest in playing basketball from Doane (Neb.) College but plans to attend Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University and not play, said ultimately, it came down to trust.
“Hayden came in and said that I wasn’t playing the way he saw me play in middle school,” Fair said. “My sophomore year, we fought, but I bought into the program. I saw his trust in me and his belief in the program. We started believing in each other, and I knew he was looking out for me. I trust him.”