Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig Named Top 100 Players By ESPN


A pair of Wisconsin Badgers has been listed in prestigious company, as both Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig represent the Wisconsin basketball team on ESPN’s list of top 100 college basketball players for the 2015-16 season.

READ ALSO: Wisconsin Basketball #17 in Preseason AP Poll

A panel of ESPN writers ranked the top 100 players in all of college basketball, assigning a numeric value to each player.

Here’s how ESPN ranked the players:

"“We asked 26 of ESPN’s college basketball writers, editors and analysts to rate players based on expected performance for the 2015-2016 season. Players were rated on both quality and quantity of contributions to their team’s ability to win games.”"

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Players received a score out of 100, led by No. 1 on the list, LSU’s Ben Simmons, who scored a perfect 100. The No. 100 player on the list, Florida’s Dorian Finney-Smith, was scored a 37.8.

Wisconsin’s Hayes and Koenig are each top 60 players according to the list, with Hayes in the top 15 all the way up at No. 12. He scored a 75.4 in the rankings, and is a slot below Kentucky freshman Skal Labissiere (75.7) and a spot before Notre Dame junior Demetrius Jackson (74.9).

Here’s what the analysts said about Hayes:

"“Hayes added perimeter range to his abilities last season, and while he was at it he improved his accuracy at the line and even his rebounding as well. Bo Ryan’s junior trajectory has been impressive, and Hayes will be called upon to do much more now that Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker are gone.”"

Last season Hayes averaged 12.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He was the third-leading scorer behind Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, and trailed only Kaminsky in team rebounding. Hayes shot .497 from the field, .744 from the free throw line and .396 from three-point range.

As the ESPN article pointed out, the addition of the perimeter game boosted Hayes’ explosiveness, as he became a much more well-rounded player in 2014. This list and others prove the expectations are even higher for Hayes in 2015, as he has been named a Sporting News preseason All-American in addition to many other accolades.

Koenig, meanwhile, came in at No. 60 on the list with a score of 52.89. Koenig is one spot behind Indiana freshman Thomas Bryant (53) and a spot ahead of Iowa State senior Jameel McKay (52.83).

"“Koenig stepped in at point guard last January when Traevon Jackson suffered an injury, and the Badgers didn’t miss a beat. Coach Bo Ryan’s offense is in good hands.”"

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As pointed out, Koenig’s performance in the 2014 season was one of necessity, as starting point guard Traevon Jackson went down with an injury, and Koenig filled the void nicely, leading the Badgers offense from the point guard position and playing 28.8 minutes a game after averaging just 15.5 minutes per game the year prior.

Koenig was the Badgers fourth-leading scorer last year, scoring 8.7 per game. He added 2.5 assists and 1.8 rebounds a game. He shot .414 from the field, .812 from the free throw line and .405 from three-point distance.

The expectations continue to be high for Koenig, who also joins Hayes on the preseason All-Big Ten team.

The duo represents the most experience on a very young team that will take the court in 2015. Both should lead the Badgers and be among the best players in the Big Ten

Here’s the entire top 15 of the college basketball player rankings:

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  1. Ben Simmons, Freshman Forward, LSU
  2. Kris Dunn, Junior Guard, Providence Friars
  3. Denzel Valentine, Senior Guard, Michigan State Spartans
  4. Melo Trimble, Sophomore Guard, Maryland Terrapins
  5. Tyler Ulis, Sophomore Guard, Kentucky Wildcats
  6. Kyle Wiltjer, Senior Forward, Gonzaga Bulldogs
  7. Buddy Hield, Senior Guard, Oklahoma Sooners
  8. Ron Baker, Senior Guard, Wichita State Shockers
  9. Marcus Paige, Senior Guard, North Carolina Tar Heels
  10. Jakob Poeltl, Sophomore Forward, Utah Utes
  11. Skal Labissiere, Freshman Forward, Kentucky Wildcats
  12. Nigel Hayes, Junior Forward, Wisconsin Badgers
  13. Demetrius Jackson, Junior Guard, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  14. Fred VanVleet, Senior Guard, Wichita State Shockers
  15. Georges Niang, Senior Forward, Iowa State Cyclones

Next: Wisconsin Basketball a Young Team in 2015-16

Nigel Hayes and the Badgers open the regular season Friday, Nov. 13 at home against Western Illinois.