UW Badger basketball star Nigel Hayes was announced as a finalist for the 2016-17 Senior CLASS Award today.
The Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their athletic platforms to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Hayes, a senior forward on the No. 11 Wisconsin men’s basketball team, was one of 10 male finalists chosen for the national award. Finalists for this year’s award were chosen by national media from the list of 30 men’s candidates announced in January. The Senior CLASS Award recipient will be announced during the 2017 Men’s Final Four.
Earlier this season in November, Hayes hopped on a big Badger bus with 22 low-income kids and their families to lead them on shopping spree worth $10,000 that included stops at Target Department Store, Metcalfe’s Grocery and Morgan’s Shoes.
“It was like Christmas coming early for some really needy kids,” says Boys and Girls Club of Dane County CEO Michael Johnson who helped organize the event. “Nigel was awesome. He’s just a natural with the kids. We went and picked him up after practice and he got on the bus and the kids and parents were just loving it. Some of the kids were more excited about seeing him than actually going shopping.”
Majoring in business finance and investment banking, Hayes is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and has upheld a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0. The Toledo, Ohio, native has become vocal in his activism for both racial progress and student-athlete welfare. Year-in and year-out, Hayes is among the team leaders in community service hours as part of the Badgers Give Back community outreach program. This season specifically, Hayes has become very involved with the Dane County Boys & Girls Club, mentoring youth and helping with fund-raising.
“I believe it is our responsibility as people to try to better the world around us, but I recognize that the platform I have allows for greater visibility,” Hayes said. “I’m trying to use that influence I have to make positive change.”
On the court, Hayes has been having an excellent career tallying over 1,600 points, 700 rebounds and 290 assists in his career and becoming just the third player in Big Ten history to reach those marks in all three categories.
Hayes becomes the fourth finalist for the award in school history. Alando Tucker won the Senior CLASS Award in 2007, Jon Leuer was among the final 10 for the award in 2010-11, and most recently Frank Kaminsky was a finalist in 2014-15. Other Badgers have been candidates for the award, including Hayes’ teammate Bronson Koenig (2017), Jared Berggren (2013) and Marcus Landry (2009).