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An Open Letter to Nigel Hayes

Open letter or love letter? What's the difference when #NIGELBACK?

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Nigel-

I hope this note finds you well. I'm writing you because I know that you just made a big decision in your life, and making big decisions in life scares people. It scares me. It scares you. I'm sure it even scares our hero Leonardo DiCaprio, too. But it's the things that scare us most that build character.

Now, I'm a little bit older than you are, so you can understand that I've had my fair share of big decisions to make. Life impacting decisions. Decisions that have major ramifications.

Take right now for example... instead of paying attention to my fiancé's quips about the "douchers" on The Bachelorette, i've decided to write a fake love letter to a 21-year old college basketball student.

You might not have ever run into a situation like this yet with your girlfriend/fiancé/wife/significant other -- you know, with your focus on being the best baller you can be -- but I assure you, not paying attention to her snap judgements about reality dating show contestants as she fills out a bracket is risky business. I've seen her look in my direction three times now and I'm not quite sure if it's because she wishes I looked like whoever came across the screen, wishes I said whatever some dude said while on the screen, or if she's just plotting my death because I haven't provided my opinions in about 45-minutes to help her win her office pool.

But that's neither here nor there. Well it is, because i'm really trying to prove to you that I've made big decisions so you know I understand where your head is at right now, but it also doesn't REALLY matter. Unless of course you have made the decision to ignore any female in your life while she is wanting to watch The Bachelorette "together", in which case, I'm glad we're still alive, bro.

Anyways. Where were we?

Oh yes, the decision.

I just want you to know that I applaud it. Coming back to the University of Wisconsin was a miraculous choice; one in which I'm sure guys like Greg Gard, Zak Showalter, Bronson "THA GAWD" Koenig and my spirit animal Ethan Happ are ecstatic about. I know the pull of the NBA. You're talking to a guy that graduated from college with loan bills and accepted the first "entry level" position he got his hands on just to start raking in the cake. And by cake, I mean minimal pay that barely covers said bills.

If you grabbed the money, you wouldn't of heard a peep from me. I get it, buddy. We all have needs and desires and have things we ultimately have to take care of. Money solves a lot of that.

But now that you are back, holy balls are the Badgers breathtaking. I'm sure I don't have to remind you, but remember how you were literally five points and two crucial turnovers away from the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament? You do? It still hurts doesn't it? I'm sorry... but hey, like the great Gary LeVox once sang, "God bless the broken road" right?

And would it even be that shocking, with the team you now get to lead, if that broken road led you right into the Elite Eight this year? Heck no! Somehow, some way, you and your Badger Buddies have the NCAA basketball world in front of you. And you know better than anyone, that when you get into the Elite Eight, like the Adidas clad Kevin Garnett once said, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE after that.

Except for this time around? You get to be Frank Kaminsky.

Literally, Nigel, with you back in the picture, do you realize that every single member of that same team is back on the roster again?

That's right, the 2015-16 team that took America by storm at the end of the season, gets one more crack at this thing.

I'm sure you knew that. I'm sure it played a part in your ultimate decision. But it's good to talk these things through when your mind is/was clouded. So let me just dig in a little deeper, just to help you heal any leftover NBA wounds.

Remember, last year when you were part of one of the best defenses in the country? Nigel, buddy, nothing's going to change.

Remember last year, when you guys rode the bubble at the beginning of the season after starting the season with a 9-9 record because your old head coach became your ex head coach and your assistant coach became your interim coach and is now your head coach? That's not happening this year, buddy.

Remember last year, when you pulled off 11 wins in 13 contests to end the season? That was the real you. If the season was two weeks longer, well, I don't even want to think about how great things could've ended for you.

Remember last year, when you were part of a team that averaged 1.35 years of experience? Say goodbye to that, man. You're part of a veteran savvy club that is returning its top nine scorers now. Top. Nine.

I realize that putting your NBA dreams on hold might be difficult right now, but things could be worse. And your decision has surely vaulted Wisconsin into any and all early Top-10 pieces that will eventually come out and it's not even football season yet.

To top all of that off, you'll be a Big Ten title favorite with Indiana and Michigan State. You'll be up for the conference Player of the Year award and you're a lock for First Team All-Big Ten.

But most importantly, you could end up being one of the most dominant Badgers of all time if you take all of the chats you've had in the last couple of weeks, assert yourself, and put in the work to vault your ceiling higher than anyone may have ever predicted.

Nigel, man to man, you were already one of the most physically imposing players during stretches last season... it's just that it came and went. Can you imagine if you were to plug into that for the majority of your games during your senior season?

The sky will literally be the limit.

And with a performance like that in your rearview, what more could the NBA GM's say?

Wishing you the best this season. I can't wait to see how you serve the table.

Your best friend in Orlando,

Jerome Scherwin Jr.