Just as he said he’d do when his junior season with the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team ended last month, center Ethan Happ announced Tuesday that he will declare for the 2018 NBA draft.
But Happ will not hire an agent, leaving open his option of returning for his senior campaign with the Badgers next season.
“Ethan and I have talked multiple times about his future and our coaching staff fully supports his decision to explore the NBA draft,” UW coach Greg Gard said in a statement. “This is a great opportunity for him to gather information directly from the source, NBA personnel. The underclassmen rule allows Ethan and others to participate in workouts with teams and potentially the NBA combine.
“This experience will be invaluable for him and will ultimately make him a better player.”
Happ said following the Badgers’ 63-60 loss to Michigan State in a Big Ten Conference tournament quarterfinal on March 2 that he would enter his name in the draft pool with the intention on gathering feedback from front-office personnel on where his stock stands.
A change in the entry process two years ago gave potential early enrollees more time to make an informed decision.
Happ can attend the combine in Chicago from May 16-20 if he’s invited and give himself a chance to improve his stock.
As long as he doesn’t sign with an agent, Happ has until the May 30 deadline to make his decision on whether or not to pull out of the draft. That scenario played out for former UW athlete Nigel Hayes following the 2015-16 season, when the talented forward tested the NBA waters before ultimately deciding to return for one more season with the Badgers.
Happ said in March he’ll only leave if he’s told he’ll be a first-round pick. That appears unlikely to happen considering Happ’s name has appeared in the second round — or not at all — in mock drafts the past few months.
“That’s not where I want to be,” he said in March. “If the combine doesn’t change that, then I’d probably say that I would come back.”
Happ, who already is 10th all-time at UW in career points, second in rebounds, 15th in assists, third in steals and sixth in blocks, could add to his legacy by returning for one more season.
If Happ decides to come back, UW would return all five starters from a team that finished 15-18 and ended the program’s NCAA tournament streak at 19 seasons. The return of sophomore point guard D’Mitrik Trice and freshman wing Kobe King from injuries also is expected to provide a boost to the Badgers.