Nigel Hayes declared for the NBA Draft on Wednesday, but he did not hire an agent. That last part is important because it gives Hayes the option of returning to the University of Wisconsin for his senior season. I think it’s safe to say Badger fans want Hayes to spend one more year in Madison.

The Badgers are in great position to win the Big Ten next season. Four of the five members of the First Team All-Big Ten team are out of eligibility. Indeed, the only player on that list with any remaining eligibility is Mr. Nigel Hayes. In addition to losing uber talents like Denzel Valentine, the Big Ten will also be without Bryn Forbes, AJ Hammons, Diamond Stone, and (likely) Melo Trimble. This mass exodus of talent clears the path for a Big Ten championship; assuming you’re returning a lot of talent.

With or without Hayes the Badgers will be stocked next year. Ethan Happ is an emerging star and Bronson Koenig will be one of the most valuable players a college basketball team can have: a senior point guard. Wisconsin will also bring back Zak Showalter and Vitto Brown, and will supplement that veteran talent with underclassmen like Khalil Iverson and redshirt freshman Andy Van Vliet. Though the Badgers will be fine either way, if Hayes returns they’ll will be favored to win the Big Ten. As a Badger fan, I prefer winning the Big Ten to not winning the Big Ten.

It goes without saying that Nigel Hayes should do what’s best for him. If he attends the NBA combine and learns that he’d be drafted, it would be wise for him to turn pro. Though an additional year in Madison would allow him to further develop his skills, he would probably develop faster as a full-time athlete. (This is also why Henry Ellenson made the correct choice. If your goal is to be a professional basketball player, you should start your career as soon as possible.)

That said, the ideal is that what’s best for Hayes is also what’s best for Badger fans. This might a selfish perspective, but nobody will ever accuse sports fans of being altruistic.

 

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