Hayden Cilley
Hayden Cilley HAY-din SIL-lee (he/him)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Hayden Cilley expects to graduate in December 2024 with a master’s degree in mass communication. Cilley covered the Phoenix Mercury in 2022 for The Next Hoops and is writing and podcasting about the Mercury for PHNX Sports.

Latest from Hayden Cilley

Star athletes and best friends: Basha’s Gabriella and J.J. Garcia share unique bond through sports

CHANDLER – Gabriella and J.J. Garcia share a unique sisterhood through playing sports at Basha High School. With a mom who was a star at Arizona State University, the two sisters learned the competitive spirit, discipline and love for one another.

Sisters J.J., left, and Gabriella Garcia share a special bond at Basha High School as they prepare for their respective state championship runs. (Photo courtesy of Gabriella Garcia)

From Tempe to Storrs, Connecticut: UConn A.D. David Benedict embraces success of basketball teams

PHOENIX – Tempe native David Benedict is back in the Valley to watch the UConn Huskies men’s basketball team in the Men's Final Four. The athletic director was also an associate athletic director at Arizona State.

Ultimate coup de grace: ASU men’s swim and dive team seeks to end Pac-12 era with first NCAA championship

PHOENIX – Following a dominant Pac-12 championship win, the Arizona State Sun Devils men’s swim and dive team seeks to end the Pac-12 era with the program’s first NCAA championship.

Arizona State swimming and diving coach Bob Bowman is delighted at the thought of his team possibility winning the program’s first national championship. (Cronkite News file photo)

A (Caleb) Love letter: Senior’s passion for big stage helps Arizona Wildcats beat Dayton, advance to Sweet 16

SALT LAKE CITY – After struggles in the Pac-12 men’s tournament, Arizona senior guard Caleb Love regained his shooting touch in a close game against Dayton, sending the Wildcats into the Sweet 16.

An 18-wheeler: Young and spry teen Kylan Boswell is leading Arizona Wildcats in NCAA men’s tournament

SALT LAKE CITY – As the youngest player on a stacked Arizona Wildcats team, Kylan Boswell played like a true veteran Thursday against Long Beach State. His coach and teammates believe that when Boswell is confident, there’s not a team in the country that can beat them.

Faith over fear: Arizona Christian stands behind beliefs amid NAIA Sweet 16 appearance

GLENDALE – Although Division I basketball programs in Arizona are thriving in the NCAA tournament, Arizona Christian University of the NAIA is in the Sweet 16. For the Firestorm, their success stems from coaching, talent and faith.

The Arizona Christian Firestorm advance to the NAIA Sweet 16 after winning a fourth straight conference championship in the 2023-24 season. (Photo courtesy of Arizona Christian Athletics)

A tale of two halves: Arizona leans on championship experience in first-round win over Long Beach State

SALT LAKE CITY – With three members of the Arizona basketball team being a part of a national championship contending team, they put that experience in use against Long Beach State on Thursday during the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The Arizona Wildcats’ Jaden Bradley dunks the ball against Long Beach State in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in Salt Lake City. The Wildcats came away with a 85-65 victory. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

‘Two genuine friends’: Arizona’s Tommy Lloyd, Long Beach State’s Dan Monson share near 30-year bond

SALT LAKE CITY – Arizona’s Tommy Lloyd and Long Beach State’s Dan Monson share a bond that stems deeper than basketball. With the two squads taking different paths to the tournament, both Lloyd and Monson are rejoicing in the opportunity to coach against each other.

Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball coach Tommy Lloyd discusses his relationship with Long Beach State coach Dan Monson ahead of their game Thursday at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Hayden Cilley/Cronkite News)

‘It’s pretty terrifying’: Ex-Suns guard Rex Chapman’s memoir sparks conversations on addiction, recovery in Tempe

TEMPE – From basketball star to addiction to social media influencer, Rex Chapman continues to speak honestly and shed light on his struggles throughout his life.

The candid reflections of former Phoenix Suns guard Rex Chapman delve into themes of humility, addiction and redemption Tuesday at Tempe's Changing Hands Bookstore. (Screen grab by Jack Pierson/Cronkite News)

ASU’s Léon Marchand preps for Pac-12, NCAA championships en route to second Olympic appearance

PHOENIX – After finishing as the Pac-12 champions in the 2022-23 season, the ASU men’s swim and dive team is poised for history. Standout junior Léon Marchand is set to make his second Summer Olympic appearance, all while focusing on the present moment.

Arizona State standout swimmer Léon Marchand focuses on NCAA success as he prepares to represent France in the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. (Photo courtesy of Sun Devil Athletics)

Phoenix Suns seal deal on G League team for 2024-25 NBA season

PHOENIX – After selling ownership of the Northern Arizona Suns to the Detroit Pistons, the Phoenix Suns were the only team without a G League affiliate. Three years later, the organization is rewriting the story with a new team coming to the Valley for the 2024-25 NBA season.

The Phoenix Suns unveil details of the team's forthcoming G League franchise, as owner Mat Ishbia continues to execute his vision for the organization. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

‘It is a family’: Black Mountain BMX weaves lasting bonds in heart of track at Winter Nationals

PHOENIX – From one generation to the next, Black Mountain BMX is bringing a continued sense of family and togetherness during the USA BMX Winter Nationals.

Thrill ride: Radford Racing School drives enthusiasm to new heights at Barrett-Jackson auction

SCOTTSDALE – At the Barrett-Jackson car auction in Scottsdale, Radford Racing School seized the opportunity to engage with car enthusiasts, offering them the chance to not only admire fast cars but also experience the thrill of getting behind the wheel themselves.

Attendees explore the Radford Racing School exhibit at the Barrett-Jackson car auction to learn more about driving high-performance vehicles. (Photo by Joe Eigo/Cronkite News)

Water-crazed hunger: ASU women’s water polo embraces connection to Hungary

TEMPE – A blend of Hungarian culture has made the Arizona State women’s water polo team dynamic – and one that brings a sense of unity between coaches and players.

Arizona State women’s water polo junior attacker Luca Petovary reflects on embracing a new culture and falling in love with Tempe at first sight. (Photo by Hayden Cilley/Cronkite News)

NCAA adopts rules to create NIL deals database, registry as convention opens in Phoenix

To kick off the push toward the NCAA Men’s Final Four, NCAA president Charlie Baker read to third-graders at Gateway School in Phoenix. Two days later, the NCAA adopted rules to create an NIL deals database and registry.

College football 2024: After leading team to Fiesta Bowl, Liberty quarterback Salter opts for transfer portal

GLENDALE – The Vrbo Fiesta Bowl spotlighted what college football in 2024 looks like thanks to NIL deals and the transfer portal. After leaving the Tennessee football program to leading the Liberty Flames into a New Year's Six bowl, quarterback Kaidon Salter told his team he is entering the transfer portal. Just a earlier, after a loss to Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl, Liberty coach Jamey Chadwell said, "He's the face of the football program.”

Liberty, Liberty, Liiiberty: Flames’ resurgence spotlights coach Jamey Chadwell, despite Vrbo Fiesta Bowl loss

GLENDALE – When Liberty University brought on a new football coach for the 2023 season, few knew what to expect. Yet Jamey Chadwell brought a unique team together and ended up in a New Year's Six bowl. Even though the loss in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl wasn't what the team wanted, the foundation is set.

Between a remote and a hard place: Sports fans, leagues wrestle with true cost of streaming

PHOENIX – In recent years, sports fans have grown to rely on illegal streaming to watch their favorite teams to cut costs, a dynamic not on the radar of mainstream media. This era may be over soon, however, as major pro sports league have claimed billions of dollars in revenue losses.

College students find themselves resorting to illegal streaming services as a cost-effective alternative to expensive sports subscriptions, raising questions about the future of live sports viewership. (Photo by Annette Riedl/Getty Images)

‘Weird’ and exciting: Emotions, memories flow as ASU basketball prepares to move to Big 12 after 46 years in the Pac-12

TEMPE – With Arizona State moving to the Big 12, many around the program reflect on the past and consider what the future could look like in a new conference.

Bobby Hurley talking to the media.

‘Stay hungry, stay humble’: Washington State starter, Casteel High alum Brock Dieu ready for Arizona return vs. Sun Devils

PHOENIX – As a 2021 graduate of Casteel High School, Washington State Cougars offensive lineman Brock Dieu makes his first start Saturday in Arizona against the Sun Devils. Last time Dieu was in Arizona, he was patiently waiting for his moment to become a full-time starter.

Casteel High School alum Brock Dieu, who grew up watching Arizona State football games, is now living his dream as a starting offensive lineman for Washington State. (Photo courtesy of Brock Dieu)

Big 12 move highlights BYU, Arizona communities entwined through LDS faith, football

PHOENIX – Entwined by faith and football, Brigham Young and Arizona State renew their old Western Athletic Conference rivalry when the two schools join the Big 12 next season.

BYU stadium full of fans at a game.

Kyle Larson, Dale Jarrett team up in Phoenix to supercharge Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

PHOENIX – NASCAR stars Dale Jarrett and Kyle Larson visited Phoenix Children's Hospital in support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – a cause the drivers cherish from their personal experiences.

All eyes were on the NASCAR Cup Series Championship trophy at Arizona Biltmore, where NASCAR drivers took a break from racing to support Phoenix Children’s Hospital. (Photo by Sam Volante/Cronkite News)

WNBA’s inclusion efforts in leadership ranks receive low marks for gender, racial hiring

PHOENIX – A report from The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sport highlighted the lack of representation of women of color in WNBA leadership, making it difficult to create a lasting impact across the league.

The WNBA scored straight A's for overall gender and race hiring on The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport's latest report, but the league is looking to improve in the leadership ranks. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

With tears and laughter, Mercury center Brittney Griner speaks for first time since Russian detainment

PHOENIX – Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner met with reporters for the first time since her arrest in Russia on Feb. 17, 2022, on drug-related charges. The press conference attracted local and national media and included Gov. Katie Hobbs and Griner’s wife, Cherelle.

On the clock: Countdown to the 2024 Men’s Final Four underway

PHOENIX – With the 2024 Men’s Final Four set to be in Arizona, the countdown for the event begins at Sky Harbor International Airport, early Thursday morning.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, center, flanked by Gov. Katie Hobbs, left, and JoAn Scott, the NCAA’s managing director of men’s basketball championships, shares her excitement about what the 2024 Final Four will mean for the Valley. (Photo by Robert Crompton/Cronkite News)

Houston’s Final Four success foreshadows potential economic boost for Arizona in 2024

HOUSTON – On the heels of the 2023 Final Four in Houston, the next stop for the tournament is in Arizona. The Valley of the Sun previously held the Final Four in 2017 and brought in near-record numbers.

For the first time since 2017, the Valley will host the Final Four next year at State Farm Stadium on April 6 and April 8. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

San Diego State’s loss to UConn in NCAA National Championship game does little to quiet Pac-12 rumors

HOUSTON – Despite the Aztecs' loss against UConn in the national championship game Monday night, their NCAA tournament run has solidified the athletic program’s case for a potential move to the Pac-12.

San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher wouldn't be surprised if a Power 5 conference showed interest in the Aztecs. "Everything we're about is first-class," he said after Monday's national championship game. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

‘We couldn’t be closer:’ Hurley brothers strive to continue family legacy

HOUSTON – With UConn set to play in the championship game on Monday, Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley is living in the moment with his brother, Dan.

UConn coach Dan Hurley and his brother, Bobby, shared a healthy sibling rivalry growing up. Now, their brotherhood is stronger than ever and will be on display in Monday's men's national championship. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

‘I got a Ph.D. in basketball’: Experience at Arizona pays off for SDSU assistant coach JayDee Luster

HOUSTON – San Diego State men’s basketball assistant coach JayDee Luster credits his time as a graduate assistant at Arizona under Sean Miller for helping him understand what it takes to help a team get to the top of the NCAA.

San Diego State Aztecs men’s basketball assistant coach JayDee Luster understands the moment of high-pressure games from his experience working with the Arizona Wildcats. (Photo courtesy of SDSU Athletics)

‘I thought he was going to be with us forever’: Housing programs aim to close the gap for people with autism

PHOENIX – A report from the Greater Phoenix Housing Market Analysis shows the lack of attention given to people with autism or who are neurodivergent makes it difficult for them to get out of poverty.

First Place opened a residential building in 2018 for adults with autism and Down syndrome or who are neurodivergent as a response to the lack of housing for neurodiverse populations. (Photo by Hayden Cilley/Cronkite News)

Game changers: Two years after historic broadcast, rise of women shakes up industry

PHOENIX – The first all-women’s NBA basketball broadcast happened in 2021 and two years later, women continue to make names for themselves, but sometimes change is still glacially slow.

Ann Meyers Drysdale, left, and Cindy Brunson are trailblazers helping to change the makeup of the broadcast industry while inspiring the next generation of women. (Photo courtesy of Ann Meyers Drysdale)

Student of the game: ASU junior Cris Valle working overtime as Hamilton boys basketball coach

CHANDLER – Former Hamilton basketball star Cris Valle had a dream of playing professional basketball. However, he found a true passion for coaching and giving back what he learned to the next generation of players.

Hamilton boys freshman assistant coach Cris Valle has successfully transitioned from player to coach, while balancing the demands of his school work at Arizona State University. (Photo by Hayden Cilley/Cronkite News)

Backyard Bowl: Devon Allen, an Olympian, an Eagle and Brophy alum, returns home for Super Bowl 57

PHOENIX – Devon Allen is a two-time Olympian and a wide receiver on the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad. As a Brophy College Prep graduate, Allen is looking forward to returning home on one of the biggest stages in the world.

Devon Allen, seen here at Philadelphia Eagles training camp last August, made the team's practice squad after a five-year hiatus from football. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Remembering Lute: Two years after his death, Olson remains important figure to former players

TUCSON – Two years after his death, Lute Olson’s legacy remains far-reaching. He let his players be a part of his family, both on and off the court. That family atmosphere inspired former players to seek out coaching positions, collegiately and in the NBA.

African American Reconstruction teams with pro sports organizations to empower Black community

PHOENIX – African American Reconstruction, a nonprofit organization that looks to tackle issues and educate people within the Black community, has partnered with professional sports teams to help its mission.

Mercury’s Brittney Griner in ‘good condition’ in Russian prison, State Department official says after visit

PHOENIX – Brittney Griner is in “good condition,” a State Department official said after Russia granted access to the Phoenix Mercury basketball star.

Brittney Griner’s detainment in Russia until at least May 19 casts light on WNBA overseas travel

PHOENIX – WNBA players have left Russia after the arrest of Brittney Griner, who will now be detained until at least May 19. Since the arrest, more is uncovered about why players travel overseas during the offseason.

Mercury ‘closely monitoring’ after report Russians arrested Brittney Griner on cannabis oil possession charge

PHOENIX – After a Russian news agency reported that a WNBA player had been arrested in Russia for possession of cannabis oil, the Phoenix Mercury issued a statement that they are "aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner ."

Heart, hope and a defibrillator: Mercury forward Tina Charles’ foundation helped save a life

PHOENIX — A Texas landscaping supervisor, had his life saved by an automated external defibrillator provided by Hopey’s Heart Foundation, a nonprofit organization that the Mercury’s Tina Charles started with a mission of equipping gymnasiums with AEDs to prevent sudden cardiac arrest

COVID and political fatigue inspired ‘lighter, comedic’ Super Bowl ads

PHOENIX – Super Bowl television commercials adopted a kinder and more humorous tone during the big game this year after a few companies built their spots around the pandemic or politics in 2021 – if they advertised at all.

New coach Vanessa Nygaard to ‘shepherd’ Phoenix Mercury, star Diana Taurasi

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Mercury introduced a new coach with Arizona roots. Vanessa Nygaard grew up in Scottsdale and is excited to be back in the state.