Hoggard’s Haywood, Frye announce college commitments

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Two standouts from Hoggard High School joined the growing list of student-athletes to announce intentions to continue their devotion to sports at the college level.

On Friday, A.J. Frye officially committed to N.C. Wesleyan, while classmate Emma Haywood will join a pair of Viking alums at Western Carolina.

Haywood, the reigning Mideastern Conference Basketball Player of the Year, could have gone on to play hoops at the next level, but her passion on the pitch has her poised to contribute for the Catamounts later on this fall.

Emma Haywood is headed to Western Carolina University this fall. Photos by Joe Catenacci
Emma Haywood is headed to Western Carolina University this fall. Photos by Joe Catenacci

As a two-sport athlete, Haywood averaged 12.1 points per game during her senior campaign on the hardwood. She guided Hoggard to back-to-back Mideastern Conference Championships as the Vikings closed the winter season with a 10-2 mark in the division and 22-6 overall record. Haywood also played a key part in Hoggard’s run to the 4A East Regional during her junior season.

“I was looking at a lot of schools for both basketball and soccer, but Western was definitely the highest level being a mid-major Division 1 school that was looking at me,” said Haywood. “The decision was I’d rather play at the highest level I could and play soccer.”

While the spring didn’t go exactly her way after suffering an injury toward the midway point of the soccer season, Haywood’s tenacity and resilience has her ready to contribute immediately at Western Carolina. Her presence in the midfield helped Hoggard earn a share of the league title, closing the campaign at 10-0-2 in league play and 15-2-6 overall.

Haywood will join Sayres McKenna (Hoggard, ’15) and Alexa Frankeny (Hoggard, ’14) at Western Carolina. McKenna was named to the SoCon All-Freshman team following her rookie year.

“It made the decision easier to go Western because I knew I wouldn’t be as timid with people I’m familiar with already there and to guide me through it,” Haywood said. “We’ll be working out all summer together, which will be good so I’m ready to go.”

Western Carolina ended the season with an 8-8-3 record and tied for fifth in the Southern Conference. The Catamounts ended the regular season by upending SoCon regular season champions Samford, handing the Bulldogs their only loss in the conference regular season.

Frye commits to N.C. Wesleyan      

Frye led the Hoggard basketball team to a 19-9 overall record and 9-3 conference mark as a senior. The silky smooth six-foot, four-inch big man was a leader on the floor for the Vikings, with the ability to score down low and shoot the rock from the outside.

His path to success at the varsity level wasn’t the easiest after he was cut following tryouts during his freshman year. Instead of packing it in, Frye spent countless hours working on his craft, gaining the skills necessary to become a three-year standout for the Vikings.

A.J. Frye committed to N.C. Wesleyan on Friday.
A.J. Frye committed to N.C. Wesleyan on Friday.

“The coaches joke all the time about A.J. being the worst cut we ever made,” said Hoggard basketball coach Brett Queen. “As A.J. has said, that ended up being a good thing for him because he approached things in such a positive way. He’s worked as hard anybody I’ve ever coached. He’s made himself a tremendous player and very proud of what he has done.”

Frye averaged 14.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this past season as a First-Team All-Conference selection. Hoggard also claimed this year’s Mideastern Conference Tournament Championship.

As a junior, Frye was an integral part of Hoggard’s success, averaging 13.4 points per game during the Vikings 22-win season.

“I’m very excited to be going to Wesleyan,” Frye said. “It’s a great feeling. I want to thank my family for putting up with me shooting the basketball until 3 a.m. outside and for being there for me. My dad passed away when I was young and I know he’s definitely proud and so am I.”

N.C. Wesleyan went 20-7 during their 2015-16 slate, with a 10-2 record in the USA South Atlantic Conference. The Battling Bishops compete within the NCAA Division III classification.