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Why one NC State women’s basketball guard said she’ll return for fifth NCAA season

N.C. State’s Aziaha James and Madison Hayes celebrate during the first half of the Wolfpack’s 77-67 win over Louisville on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C.

N.C. State women’s basketball guard Madison Hayes surprised fans at Reynolds Coliseum with a senior day message: She’s coming back.

Hayes announced after the presentation Hayes, River Baldwin and Mimi Collins received recognition — that she will return for a fifth season.

“She’s been so critical for us all year long. I call her a glue player,” N.C. State head coach Wes Moore said on Sunday. “She rebounds, she defends, she knocks down threes; does a lot of things for us. Definitely glad to have her back and give us a little bit more veteran leadership.

“I knew there was a chance she’d come back, but I’m not gonna say that I was 100% confident. I wasn’t headed to Vegas or anything with it.”

Hayes averages 12 points, seven rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. She contributes a .454 field goal percentage and a team-high .425 from 3-point range.

She came to N.C. State after her freshman season at Mississippi State. In high school, Hayes was a McDonald’s All-American and listed as a top 30 recruit by ESPN.

Junior Saniya Rivers called Hayes’ return “amazing.”

“She’s a big player on our team. She plays a big role. She does a lot of little things and a lot of big things,” Rivers said. “Knowing that we’ll have her back next year, we know that we’re going to make another run. We’re excited to have her back.”

Hayes and the Wolfpack defeated Wake Forest, 75-57, on Sunday to earn the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament. N.C. State plays at 5 p.m. Friday at Greensboro Coliseum.