Ethan Happ’s last hurrah
What a ride it has been for Ethan Happ at Wisconsin.
With one season still left to be played, he has already had one of the most prolific careers in the history of the program. One of the most versatile stars in the game over the last few years, Happ is just one of five Big Ten players in the last two decades to record at least 1,500 points, 800 rebounds, and 250 assists for his career.
While the team as a whole struggled last season, Happ was unsurprisingly spectacular, averaging 17.9 points, 8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game, all tops on the team. The most useful stat for wrapping your head around the gargantuan performance he put forward in 2017-18 is that he was the first player in over 20 years to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. Simply put, that is insane.
You may ask, what could Happ possibly do to follow up that showing?
Badger fans are hoping that he can demonstrate improved shooting from outside the paint this season, at the very least at the free throw line and from midrange. It is another testament to Happ’s greatness that he has had so much success getting buckets strictly from within a couple feet from the basket despite being a non-factor outside that range. If he can force defenders to respect his shot and move them away from the hoop, he could realistically average well over 20 points per game.
The sky is the limit for Happ this season, as he has a legitimate chance at lofty honors such as First Team All-American, Big Ten Player of the Year, and Naismith Player of the Year if all goes according to plan. He is on pace to shatter the record books at Wisconsin and put his name at or near the top of most major statistical categories by the end of the year.
However, his success this season will be measured primarily by how far he can take this team on his back. I do expect that his teammates will help him shoulder the burden much more this year, but the fact remains that this is Happ’s team. An NCAA Tournament berth is the minimum standard this season, but can he lead the Badgers deep into March?