Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after posting 10 points, four rebounds and three blocked shots in 16 minutes against Prairie View A&M, helping the Badgers to an 80-43 rout of the Panthers.
A 6'7" freshman from Toledo (Ohio) Whitmer, Hayes put on a well-rounded display on offense Saturday. He once again paraded to the free throw line (hitting 6-of-9 freebies) and collected three offensive rebounds. The rugged Hayes also added one steal and committed zero turnovers.
Putting together two straight double-digit scoring performances may have aided in Hayes' selection, as he scored 17 points against Eastern Kentucky two weeks ago before UW's winter break began. Hayes is now averaging 5.5 points in 14.6 minutes per game for the Badgers, and is second on the team with 11 blocks.
Hayes is the first Badger to receive this honor since Sam Dekker in March of last season. Earlier this season, Frank Kaminsky earned Wisconsin's first weekly conference award after scoring a school-record 43 points versus North Dakota.
Along with teammate Bronson Koenig, Hayes has proven to be an integral part of Wisconsin's early success, especially when he stays out of foul trouble. Hayes in particular has started to thrust himself into the conversation for the Big Ten's All-Freshman team as conference play begins.
Indiana's Noah Vonleh is the de facto freshman stud in the conference, having won or shared the FOTW award four times already. The 6'10" center is averaging 12 points and 9.5 rebounds per game for the Hoosiers.
Guards Zak Irvin (Michigan) and Bryson Scott (Purdue) have also made the most of their early playing time, each capturing the honor twice. Purdue is one of the youngest teams in the country, while freshmen are also playing a large role for Illinois.