It’s one thing to come into the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program as a freshman and see some minutes. For Nigel Hayes however, he not only saw some minutes, he made a big impact for head coach Bo Ryan.
The season may have started slow for Nigel–as you would expect for most freshmen–but right before Big Ten play started, he really started to hit his stride. Hayes improved every aspect of his game as the season wore on. And the scary part is, he’s not done improving.
One thing that always jumped out at me during games–and something I tweeted every single game–was how pure and smooth Hayes’ shot always looked. Whether he was wide open or had a defender on him, Nigel never really changed his shot. I also noticed too how much he loved the baseline. I mean honestly, don’t we all?
In his first ever Big Ten game, Hayes scored a team-high 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting and grabbed six rebounds to lead the Badgers over the Northwestern Wildcats. Hayes scored a game-high 17 points in a one-point loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes. In that game Nigel and Ben Brust (13 points) were the only two players from Wisconsin to score in double-digits.
These are just a couple of examples of how well Nigel Hayes flourished this season for Wisconsin. There’s a reason why Hayes was selected as the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year. Coming off the bench for Frank Kaminsky and even at times playing with him, Hayes has gained some valuable experience as a freshman.
Nigel–along with fellow freshman Bronson Koenig–will ensure the Badgers future stays very bright.