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Wisconsin basketball: Nigel Hayes, Ethan Happ awarded All-Big Ten honors

No love for Greg Gard, though.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Nigel Hayes and Ethan Happ led the Wisconsin Badgers in the All-Big Ten awards announced by the conference Monday night.

Hayes was one of the conference's five first-team selections by both coaches and media, while Happ was the unanimous Freshman of the Year. Happ was also an honorable mention selection by the coaches and made the conference's All-Freshman and All-Defensive teams.

Bronson Koenig also made the coaches third team and was an honorable mention by media. Happ also made the media's third team. Vitto Brown was Wisconsin's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award nominee.

For Wisconsin, which overcame a surprisingly poor start to the season and endured the surprise retirement of Bo Ryan to win 11 of its last 13 games, the awards are fitting in rewarding the team's leader (Hayes) and its future star (Happ). Hayes, averaging more than three minutes more per game than he did as a sophomore, leads the team with 16.5 points and is second to Happ with 5.8 rebounds. He's also first on the team with 3.1 assists per game, leading even the point guard Koenig (2.5 assists per game to go along with 13.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game).

Happ has progressed throughout his redshirt freshman season and enters the Big Ten tournament averaging 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. Much has also been made of the 1.8 steals per game he's averaging; that number ties him with Rutgers's Corey Sanders for the conference lead and is buoyed by the six-steal effort Happ enjoyed vs. Illinois last month.

About the only surprise pertaining to Wisconsin found within this year's Big Ten awards comes with Coach of the Year, which coaches and media handed to Indiana's Tom Crean. It's hard to discredit Crean's accomplishments this year -- the Hoosiers are 25-6 (15-3 Big Ten) and enter this week's Big Ten tournament as the No. 1 seed. But considering Wisconsin's turnaround following Ryan's retirement with a remarkably young roster, Gard had gathered a lot momentum for the award.