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'BTPowerhouse 25' - #3 Nigel Hayes

BTPowerhouse's staff counts down the best players in the Big Ten heading into the 2015-16 season.

Hayes (right) looks to build on a solid sophomore season at Wisconsin
Hayes (right) looks to build on a solid sophomore season at Wisconsin
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

In the months leading up to the 2015-16 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.

Today's edition will take a brief look at Nigel Hayes of the  Wisconsin Badgers who came in at #11 in the rankings. Hayes leads a team looking for another solid season, but this time will be missing Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, who were both excellent last season.

'BTP 25' - #11 Nigel Hayes

  • Eligibility: Junior
  • Career Totals: 78 games, 1,982 minutes, 789 points, 353 rebounds, 115 assists
  • 2014-15 Averages: 33.0 mins, 12.4 pts, 6.2 rebs, 2.0 ast, 0.4 blks, 0.9 steals
  • Positional Role: Small Forward

Hayes was a key piece of the Badgers' Final Four team last year. After being named Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year for his freshman season, Hayes saw an elevated role during his second year in Madison, starting all 40 of Wisconsin's games. Despite being the shadow of top -notch NBA talent in Kaminsky and Dekker, Hayes still managed to rank third in team scoring and second in team rebounding. Now an upperclassmen, this is Hayes' team to lead for the next two years, if he chooses not to enter the 2016 NBA draft.

Player Strengths

At 6-8, 240lbs Nigel Hayes is built for college basketball. As demonstrated the past two seasons, he is a prototypical athlete, shooting, rebounding and doing it all out on the court. It might be a surprise to some to see that while Hayes has always been a force, his game is growing faster than ever. After not attempting a single three pointer as a freshman, he worked over the offseason to develop a perimeter game, and it showed. Hayes went 39.6% from downtown in 2014-2015, giving only added versatility to his game. While he still has the ability to post up down low, he becomes only more of a nightmare to guard with this addition to his game.

As evidenced by a story that surfaced this past spring, Hayes is a tremendous worker, even when nobody is looking. He has the potential to do some serious damage in the Big Ten this season.

Areas for Improvement

As shocking as it may sound, Hayes' weakness may be that he has none. He can play big minutes (33.0 MPG), score (12.4 PPG), rebound (6.2 RPG), play defense and shoot the three. He has done all this, most impressively, without getting into big foul trouble (1.9 per game). Hayes can only continue to improve his consistency on the floor. He scored in double figures in 72.5% of the Badgers' contests this past season, and that number should grow in 2015-2016. Look for Hayes to take his game to a whole new level.

Player Projection

The expectations are high for Hayes, who is already listed as a 2015-16 preseason All-American by Sporting News. After a third team All-Big Ten selection this past season, there's no doubt he'll be gunning for first team in his junior year. Hayes returns as the most talented and versatile player on this Wisconsin roster and will be the vocal and emotional leader throughout the stretch of the season.

Expect around 14.0 PPG and 7.0-8.0 RPG as well as around 33.0-34.0 MPG. Come March, his name will very likely be in discussion for Big Ten Player of the Year, if not in consideration for the Wooden or Naismith. This guy is good.


'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings