Happ returning to Badgers for senior season

The Wisconsin Badgers basketball team just got a little stronger next season.

Junior center Ethan Happ, who had declared for the NBA draft but didn’t hire an agent, has decided to return to UW for his senior season. Wednesday was the deadline for eligible players to drop out of the draft and head back to college.

Happ reportedly worked out with seven NBA teams, but he wasn’t invited to the NBA combine and had been getting feedback that would not be a first-round selection.

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He recently told the Detroit Free-Press: “So far, with the teams I’ve worked out for, (the projection) has been late-second round. With that, I’d rather go back to school.”

The 6-foot-10 Happ averaged 17.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks this past season and had 12 double-doubles while shooting 52.8 percent from the field for a Wisconsin team which struggled due to youth and injuries, finishing 15-18 and failing to make a postseason tournament for the first time since 1997-98. He was the only player in the nation to lead his team in points, rebounds assists, blocks and steals.

Happ will enter his season ranked second in rebounds (875), needing just 30 to set the record, in Wisconsin history as well as third in steals (179), sixth in blocks (110) and ninth in points (1,541).

Wisconsin now returns its top-five players in minutes from last season plus D’Mitrik Trice and Kobe King, both of whom missed much of the year due to injuries.

The last Wisconsin player to leave school early for the NBA was Sam Dekker, who was drafted in the first round in 2015.