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‘BTPowerhouse 25’ - #6 Ethan Happ

BTPowerhouse's staff counts down the best players in the Big Ten heading into the 2016-’17 season.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional-Wisconsin vs Notre Dame Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

In the months leading up to the 2016-’17 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 we’ll take a look at Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ. Happ surprised outsiders with his play as a redshirt freshman. Those inside the program, who saw Happ go toe-to-toe with Frank Kaminsky in practice, perhaps weren’t as surprised.

‘BTPowerhouse 25’ - #6 Ethan Happ

  • Eligibility: Redshirt Sophomore
  • Career Totals: 35 games, 982 minutes, 434 points, 278 rebounds, 44 assists
  • 2015-’16 Averages: 28.1 MPG, 12.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.3 APG
  • Position: Power Forward

Happ piled up awards and freshman records last season. He was the 2016 Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten and Third Team All-Big Ten. He also set Wisconsin freshman records for rebounds (434), steals (63) and double-doubles (10). (Happ was Wisconsin’s bright spot, when the team struggled early in the year.) Now, he will look to take the next step this year.

Player Strengths

Happ’s offensive game is already really mature. He has an array of complex post moves to keep defenders off balance, which helps him score against more athletic people. What’s most impressive is his ability to link an array of moves together, not normally something younger players can do.

On the boards, despite not having high-end athleticism, he’s very effective. Happ has 10 double-doubles in just one season, and really demonstrates the importance of hustle and good position on the glass.

Happ will never be a rim protector, in the traditional, shot-blocking sense, but he can (and does) play smart defense, particularly against bigger, more athletic opponents. He fouled out just twice last year, and he’ll need to continue to evolve defensively to stay on the floor.

Areas for Improvement

Happ’s not a tremendous athlete, and doesn’t play above the rim (even though he can dunk), but he has polish and intelligence to overcome that. Offensively, he could improve his passing, particularly out of double teams. More and more teams will rush two defenders at him, and at times, he struggled last season to see the double early, and make the appropriate pass. (He finished with 44 assists and 76 turnovers last year.)

Make no mistake, Happ will get more attention from defenses. (He started to already last year.) And, he’ll have to better balance manage scoring, with finding open teammates.

Not in the mold of traditional Wisconsin big men, Happ doesn’t work on the perimeter much (or at all really), but his post-up game is top shelf. (He didn’t shoot a three last year, but shot 53 percent from the field.) He has a little midrange jumper, but perhaps expanding his game will help him open up the floor.

Player Projection

Likely, Happ will build on his freshman year. How much better can he get? Not an elite athlete and not a great outside shooter, where will he expand an already polished offensive game? Certainly, his shooting and passing could improve, but we’re nitpicking because he’s already a very evolved offensive player.

Much of Happ’s opportunities could also depend on the talent around him. If Wisconsin can shoot reliably, teams’ll hesitate to double Happ. The talent hasn’t changed much (or at all really) from last year to this year; Wisconsin’s primed to have a big season. And, Happ should be a big part of that.


'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings: