With the deadline for players to withdraw from the NBA under 24 hours away, the Wisconsin Badgers received some exciting news. It has been reported forward Nigel Hayes will return for his senior season at Wisconsin. As first reported by Jim Polzin via twitter, the 6-7 big man simply said "I'm coming back."
News from #Badgers forward Nigel Hayes: "I'm coming back."— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) May 24, 2016
After attending the NBA draft combine a few weeks ago Hayes worked out for a number of NBA teams including Boston, Utah, Phoenix and Atlanta. Both size and weight plagued Hayes at the combine. Hayes is undersized for an NBA power forward and weighed in as one of the heaviest players at the combine. While his 7-3 wingspan was impressive, his showing during the scrimmages was not.
Hayes was a key member of Wisconsin's Final Four runs during his three years with the Badgers. As a junior, Hayes averaged 15.7 points and 5.9 rebounds on route to being named to the All Big Ten first team. Hayes joins an already stacked Wisconsin team. Ethan Happ will have a season under his belt when he returns in 2016 and will most likely be one of the Big Ten's best forwards. Bronson Koenig and Vitto Brown also return for the Badgers, making them one of the most experienced rosters in the Big Ten. Wisconsin now has 13 players on their active roster.
While Hayes had a tendency to disappear for stretches last season he will almost certainly be working on his conditioning and consistency during his final season. Hayes will have experienced help this season with three seniors, one junior and five sophomores on the team.
Both head coach Greg Gard and Wisconsin fans can rejoice and prepare for what should be a stellar season for 2016-2017.