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Ethan Happ named to Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy watch lists

The country is starting to take notice of the young Wisconsin star.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Badgers redshirt sophomore forward Ethan Happ was named to two national player of year watch lists this week. Happ was one of 20 finalists announced for the John R. Wooden Award on Wednesday, and was also part of the Top 30 for the Naismith Award announced Thursday morning.

Happ has been Wisconsin’s most consistent player this season, leading the Badgers to the pole position in the jumbled Big Ten. The Milan, Ill., native was somewhat overshadowed before the season by Big Ten preseason player of the year Nigel Hayes and senior point guard Bronson Koenig. But Happ has been Wisconsin’s best two-way player this year and at times an unstoppable force in the paint. It’s great to see Happ getting national recognition for his play, a big reason why the Badgers have had great success this season.

Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan and Maryland guard Melo Trimble join Happ as the only Big Ten players on both watch lists. The Naismith Award will trim its list to 10 players on March 1.

A three-star recruit in 2014, Happ has improved in every statistical category as a sophomore, with the exception of free-throw percentage. Happ is averaging 14.7 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game, and leads the Big Ten in field-goal percentage at 61.5 percent. In addition to his offensive prowess in the post, Happ has been Wisconsin’s best defensive player, leading the Big Ten in steals per game a season ago with 1.8 and averaging 2.0 steals and 1.1 blocks per game through 23 contests this season.

You can see all 30 Naismith Award finalists here and the top 20 John Wooden Award finalists here.