University of Wisconsin basketball coach Greg Gard will have some senior leadership on the floor for his first full season, and the Badgers will likely be among the conference favorites, thanks to the decision of forward Nigel Hayes to eschew the NBA draft.
UW assistant coach Howard Moore has confirmed that Hayes will return to the Badgers for his senior season.
“It’s good news,” Moore said in an interview with Madison365.
Hayes tested the waters at the NBA draft combine but ultimately decided to spend one more year in Madison.
Following a last workout in Houston on Monday, Moore said, Hayes “had a good meeting with Coach Gard and myself. I think he made a good decision. He’s extremely motivated to do whatever it takes to move this program in the right direction.”
Moore said Hayes’ return improves the team but doesn’t significantly alter its plans or goals.
“You’re talking about a first team All Big Ten player returning to a team that has a lot of good pieces,” said Moore. “We always feel like we can contend for a championship. The goal doesn’t change. Now our chance (to contend for the Big Ten title) is probably a little bit stronger.”
Moore also said Hayes will be better positioned after another year in the NCAA.
“It says a lot about him doing his due diligence, to think about his future,” Moore said. “He’s going to be an NBA player. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Hayes, 6’9″, averaged 15.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game during his junior season.