Trevon Hughes has a lot to celebrate as he looks back on his career at Wisconsin. (AP Photo)
Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes came to Madison in the Fall of 2006 as polar opposites. Bohannon was the townie from Marion, Iowa, while Hughes was the city kid from Queens, New York. They called Bohannon "J-Bo" and Hughes "Pop". Bothhad high expectations and both saw playing time right away.
Four years later, Bohannonand Hughes are four wins away from setting the all-time win mark at Wisconsin with 106 career victories. Over that time span, the two guards have become the face of Wisconsin basketball and it's been special for me to watch because their freshman season was the first year I covered the team on an everyday basis.
In Part Two of a two-part series, I look back at the collegiate career of Trevon "Pop" Hughes:
Trevon Hughes was unlike any player the Badgers had ever seen when he arrived on campus in 2006. He wasn't completely foreign to Wisconsin fans because he graduated from St. John's Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wis., but he was still from the East Coast, not a common recruiting area for the UW men's basketball team.
"It's really obvious that he's from the East Coast," senior point guard Kammron Taylor said in December of 2006. "To me, New York point guards have a certain walk and he just has that certain walk about him."
Hughes and head coach Bo Ryan had a special bond because Ryan used to be a point guard and he too was from the East Coast, hailing from Chester, Penn. It didn't take long to figure out that Hughes was going to be a personal project for Ryan.
In high school Hughes had a habit of making fancy passes and taking wild shots. And while he completed a lot of those passes and made a lot of those shots, that kind of play wasn't going to cut it on a Bo Ryan coached team. Hughes' freshman year was a learning experience to say the least. In limited playing time as the backup point guard, Hughes was forced to learn how play under control and make smarter decisions. Those bad habits still rear their ugly head every once in a while, but Hughes did enough to become the full-time starter by the start of his sophomore year.
Like Bohannon, Hughes was a four-star recruit, but because he played so little freshman year, the expectations weren't really set until his second year when fans could actually see him play. And after he scored 25 and 21 points, respectively in the first two games of the season, the comparisons to Devin Harris started to roll in.
While those kind of expectations were a little overblown, Hughes has developed into a true point guard and the leader of the Badgers for the last three seasons.
After being named the Midwest Classic Conference Player of the Year for four straight years in high school, averaging only 7.7 minutes per game as a freshman at Wisconsin could not have been easy for Hughes. It was a year in which he had to trust Ryan and in the end, it paid off.
Hughes most memorable game of the season came at Marquette Dec. 9, 2006 when he played a season-high 18 minutes and grabbed three steals and five rebounds while also dishing out three assists. It was one of those games where the stats didn't really tell the whole story. Hughes was all over the court while he was in the game and showed flashes of the defensive brilliance he would bring to the team for years to come.
From my post-game analysis in The Daily Cardinal:
MILWAUKEE- If there is one word to describe the UW men’s basketball team’s first 10 games this season it is "depth." For the Badgers, that depthproved to be worth a big win Saturday at the Bradley Center as head coach Bo Ryan pulled a rabbit out of his hat in freshman Trevon Hughes.
"Coaches get by on gut feelings a lot and sometimes guys get let go for gut feelings," Ryan said after the game. "But I just thought Trevon, in this type of game … he’s a guy who would stick his nose in there and stay with his feet."
Wisconsin (9-1) beat Marquette (9-2) 70-66 and while senior forward Alando Tucker stole the show with 28 points, it was hard to ignore the impact Hughes had in his first game receiving significant minutes.
"He really hasn’t played very much but for him to come in and take care of the ball and do some of the things he did, to get some steals, to get some deflections, that was huge," Ryan said.
In 18 minutes Hughes only had two points, both off free throws, but the freshman was running the point and dished out two assists, three steals and five rebounds. More importantly he helped shut down Marquette’s sophomore guard combination of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews.
Ryan opted to use Hughes instead of freshman Jason Bohannonwho did not play for the first time this season. While it may have been a "gut feeling" it was one that made sense as Ryan said Hughes’ quicker feet allowed him to stay with Marquette’s quicker guards.
"[Hughes] has so much potential and he doesn’t even realize it yet," Tucker said. "Players get discouraged when they aren’t getting a lot of minutes but we always stress to keep working and us as seniors, we push that out of them. He is going to be a great player, him and Jason Bohannon."
Tucker was right about both freshman guards, but unfortunately the game also showed the hurdles Hughes still had to get over before he was going to become a regular member of the rotation. He missed both shots he took in the game and committed three turnovers.
Hughes played behind Bohannon for the majority of the season and his season-high in points was eight against Southern University.
Whether Hughes was ready to take over the UW offense or not, he was the team's only real option at point guard going into his sophomore year.
"He knows it's his turn," Bo Ryan said in November of 2007. "Sometimes in life when you realize it's your opportunity you approach the day differently, you feel differently about yourself and that's not in a cocky way."
Ryan added that Hughes was admittedly nervous before his first start at point guard but it was obvious that Hughes was approaching things with a different attitude. He was seizing the bull by its horns. The sophomore took 17 shots in his first start and finished with 25 points while dishing out five assists and grabbing six steals.
From my post-game recap:
Badger fans, meet Trevon Hughes. You are going to be seeing a lot of the sophomore point guard for the next three years.
Hughes, who got his first start Sunday, scored a game-high 25 points and added five rebounds and five assists as Wisconsin beat Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne 83-55 in its season opener at the Kohl Center.
"I just played. It just happens out there. We got six or seven guys that can do that and I guess tonight it was me and Brian Butch's night," Hughes said.
The sophomore guard showed off his talent early and often, averaging 19.4 points per game in his first five contests. I remember a colleague at WSUM saying to me: "He's going to be better than Devin Harris. He's going to the NBA."
Unfortunately, Hughes' inexperience also showed at times, especially in the second half of the Big Ten season when opposing teams were getting a second chance to match up with him defensively.
In his last 13 games before exploding for 25 points against Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament, Hughes only averaged 7.5 points per game. However, that didn't exactly tell the whole story, because he had a 2.2/1 assist-to-turnover in last 10 games and in the midst of Wisconsin winning the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament titles, Hughes played very well defensively.
Unfortunately, the season did not end kindly. In Wisconsin's Sweet 16 loss to Davidson, Hughes injured his ankle and failed to score in only 12 minutes.
It was a common theme on a team that did not measure up to expectations, but Hughes' development stalled somewhat during his third year in the program.
He only improved from 11.2 points per game in his sophomore year to 12.1 points per game during his junior campaign. His field goal percentage went down, while his three-point percentage and assists went up. His steals went down, but so did his turnovers.
Overall, he was probaby a better point guard, but for a guy that was considered a possible All-American early on in his sophomore season, the rise in production didn't really live up to the hype during his junior season. The stall was somewhat understandable, however, because he had to take over the role as UW's No. 1 defender when Michael Flowers graduated.
Still, Hughes had his moments. He had two game-winning shots, the first at Virginia Tech with 0.9 seconds left and the second in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when he beat Florida State with two seconds left.
It's been a somewhat odd year for Hughes because he's been battling a new problem: foul trouble. He has finished a game with four fouls 10 times and fouled out against Green Bay. Still, his minutes are almost exactly where they were a year ago and when the senior has been on the court, he has been better than ever.
Hughes is averaging 15.5 points per game, shooting 41 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range. He's scored in double-figures in all but five games this season.
In what might end up being his best all-around performance, Hughes scored 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting in UW's win over No. 6 Duke earlier this season. He backed that up with a 20-point performance against Grambling State and then went to Green Bay and scored a career-high 27 points in the next game.
While he will always be remembered for his game-winners as a junior against Virginia Tech and Florida State, few will forget his performance at Northwestern earlier this season.
From my recap:
After missing his first nine field goal attempts, Hughes made five of his final six attempts -- including four threes -- as he scored 15 points in the final 6:55 of the game to help turn a three-point deficit into a 10-point win for the Badgers.
"My teammates kept telling me to keep shooting," Hughes said after the game. "If it wasn't for them I don't think I would have taken another shot."
The Wildcats must have felt helpless as he knocked down shot after shot, but the memorable images of his celebrations down the stretch made the whole performance that much better.
Trevon Hughes will likely go down as one of Bo Ryan's more successful transformations throughout his career. The Queens native did not exactly come to Madison with the decision-making skills that define most of Ryan's players, but he knew how to play defense and if you can play defense, then Bo Ryan will be willing to work with you.
Hughes is currently the 13th all-time leading scorer in Badgers' history with 1,267 career points and became the 34th UW player to reach 1,000 points against Cal Poly this season.
No player has been as electric or delivered as many "wow" moments as Hughes has over the last four years. He will be remembered for his New York swagger, his unique haircuts and that crazy, behind the head, no-look, half-court pass he completed against Penn State this season.
While Wednesday night might be his last game at the Kohl Center, there's at least three other games to be played this season and knowing Hughes' knack for the unpredictable, there's a good chance we will be saying "wow" a few more times this March.