When the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced the 2017 Naismith Trophy watch list on Thursday, only four schools in the country had three nominees named to the 50-player list.

Duke. Kansas. Kentucky. Wisconsin.

Vaulting the Badgers into the conversation with such blue-blood programs were nominees Ethan Happ, Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, who were each named to the watch list, which recognizes the best individual in men’s college basketball each season.

This marks the second-straight season Hayes has been pegged for the preseason Naismith Trophy watch list and the first appearances on the list for Happ and Koenig. Wisconsin has had three players go on to become finalists for the award, most recently Frank Kaminsky in 2015, who became the first player in program history to win the award.

Already tabbed as the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year and a candidate for the Karl Malone Award, Hayes enters his final campaign with the Badgers having established himself as one of the most accomplished players in program history. A consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2016, Hayes was UW’s leading scorer last season and one of only three Big Ten players to average at least 15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. He has played in 113 career games, including 75 starts.

Koenig adds his Naismith Trophy watch list accolade to his list that also includes being a Bob Cousy Award preseason candidate and a preseason All-Big Ten selection. Koenig was a third-team All-Big Ten honoree last season after he finished second for the Badgers in scoring (13.1 ppg) and assists (84). He enters his senior campaign having started each of the last 59 games for the Badgers, who Koenig helped guide to the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in the past six seasons – the only team in the nation to do so.

Few players in Wisconsin men’s basketball history have broken onto the scene quite like Happ did last year and all signs point to another promising season for the sophomore. Already a candidate for the 2017 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, Happ was consensus Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season after becoming just the second conference freshman in over 20 years to average at least 11.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. One of the most well-rounded players in the Big Ten last season, Happ also earned Big Ten All-Defensive Team honors after he led the league with 63 steals and paced the Badgers with 32 blocks.

The mid-season list of 30 for the 2017 Naismith Trophy will be announced Feb. 9, 2017.