Wisconsin Basketball 2015 Preview: Forwards

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Nigel Hayes speaks at a post-game press conference at the Kohl Center. Jim Oxley photo

Starting Small Forward

Nigel Hayes: 6-8, 240-pound junior from Toledo, Ohio

Career stats: 10.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists in 25.4 minutes per game

2014-15 stats: 12.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists in 33.0 minutes per game

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Hayes is one of the most seasoned players on the 2015-16 season, along with starting point guard Bronson Koenig. In his two years on campus, Hayes has played in 78 career games, and last year became one of the Badgers top threats on offense.

Hayes was third in scoring on the team last year behind Kaminsky and Dekker, and was second in rebounding behind only Kaminsky. He added a three-point shot to his arsenal, and became a much deadlier weapon because of the addition.

Hayes went from literally never shooting a three-pointer in his freshman season to attempting 2.5 per game as a sophomore. He shot .396 from long range last year, knocking down 40 of his 101 attempts.

It’s that added aspect of his game that will help the Badgers be more versatile on offense this season with some younger players in the ranks. You can expect to see Hayes all over the front court this season. He’ll line up as the small forward a lot, but will play power forward and even center in smaller lineups.

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Hayes hasn’t been asked to defend opposing team’s centers in the past, and he hasn’t needed to with Kaminsky along for the ride. With Frank the tank gone, Hayes may occasionally need to get down on the block. We’ve seen him be successful in that venture, as virtually every big for Kentucky last year was around 7 feet.

Offensively, Hayes will be the Badgers go-to guy this season, and will be counted on to produce a lot of the scoring.

Hayes and Josh Gasser each played 33.0 minutes per game last season, the most time spent on the court for any Badger not named Frank Kaminsky (33.6 minutes per game). Hayes is used to being turned to, and the Badgers will do that plenty this season.

Next: Starting Power Forward