Nigel Hayes is going to test the NBA Draft waters, but that doesn't mean his days at Wisconsin are done.
Like many others, Hayes will take advantage of new rules that allow underclassmen to declare for the NBA Draft without hiring an agent, allowing them to attend workouts with pro teams and the NBA Draft Combine, all the while keeping their NCAA eligibility intact should they choose to return to school by the May 25 deadline.
Wisconsin junior Nigel Hayes will enter the 2016 NBA Draft, but will not immediately sign with an agent, sources tell @TheVertical.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 20, 2016
Hayes earned All-Big Ten First Team honors this past season, ranking 10th in the conference with a 15.7-point-per-game scoring average. He ranked 16th in the league in both rebounding and steals, averaging 5.8 boards and 1.1 swipes per game. Only Northwestern's Tre Demps averaged more minutes per game than Hayes, who played 36.2 minutes per game.
Hayes played a critical role on each of the last three Badgers teams, helping them to back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2014 and 2015 before leading a mostly inexperienced group to the Sweet Sixteen this past season. As he had to take a larger role following the departures of Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, among others, his shooting numbers dropped significantly. After shooting 51 percent and 49.7 percent from the field as a freshman and sophomore, respectively, he shot just 36.8 percent as a junior this past season. And after hitting 39.6 percent of his 3-point attempts as a sophomore, he shot just 29.3 percent form behind the arc as a junior. But scoring, assists and steals were up significantly this past season for the Toledo native.
Should Hayes end up returning to Madison for his senior season, the Badgers would figure to be in pretty good shape for next season. Greg Gard did a phenomenal job in relief of Bo Ryan this past season, and his first full year at the helm would see him return almost every player on the roster, including a complete starting five of Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Ethan Happ, Vitto Brown and Zak Showalter plus a bevy of players who will be in their second years in the program.