Wisconsin Badgers junior Ethan Happ earns All-Big Ten honors for second straight season
Ethan Happ earned first-team All-Big Ten honors for the second consecutive season, but he wasn’t the no-brainer pick he was a year ago.
The conference announced its 2017-18 awards Monday, and the junior center on the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team was rewarded despite the program’s worst season in 20 years. While Happ was named a first-team pick by the media, he landed on the coaches’ second team; he was a unanimous selection as a sophomore.
Meanwhile, UW guard Brad Davison was named to the all-freshman team.
Happ was the only Big Ten player to finish in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. He did that despite being the only returning starter for the Badgers (14-17), who will play Maryland (19-12) in a Big Ten tournament game Thursday at Madison Square Garden in New York.
“He’s really almost impossible to guard because he can score one-on-one,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Monday on the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference. “If you double, he’s got players around him (and) he’s such a good passer, one of the best passers in the league at his size.”
Happ is the only player from a major conference this season to lead his team in scoring (17.9), rebounding (8.2), assists (3.8), blocks (1.0) and steals (1.5).
Happ has been greeted with double-teams over and over this season. That was the case last season as well, but he was surrounded by seniors such as Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes at the time.
UW didn’t have its third-most experienced player, sophomore point guard D’Mitrik Trice, and promising freshman wing Kobe King for the final 21 games of the season. At times, Happ was joined in the lineup by three freshmen.
“He’s had to adjust to a lot,” UW coach Greg Gard said of Happ, who has 11 double-doubles and has failed to reach double figures in scoring in only two games. “Not only in terms of the supporting cast around him during games … but also his adjustment in the locker room. It’s a whole new room of guys. Obviously he goes from item No. 3 or 4 on scouting reports to 1 and 1A for opponents. So he’s had to adjust to a lot. I think he’s handled it pretty well.”
Happ was joined on the media’s first team by Ohio State junior forward Keita Bates-Diop, Michigan State sophomore wing Miles Bridges, Purdue sophomore guard Carsen Edwards and Penn State sophomore guard Tony Carr. The only difference on the coaches’ first team was Nebraska junior guard James Palmer Jr. in place of Happ.
Bates-Diop was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, while Ohio State’s Chris Holtmann was named Coach of the Year after leading the Buckeyes (24-7) to a tie for second place in the conference standings in his first season.
Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson Jr. was named Freshman of the Year. He was joined on the all-freshman team by Davison, Illinois guard Trent Frazier, Maryland forward Bruno Fernando and Ohio State center Kaleb Wesson.
Davison is second on the Badgers in scoring with 12.1 points per game. He scored a career-high 30 points in a 68-63 loss to No. 2 Michigan State on Sunday at the Kohl Center and also drew his 35th charge of the season in that game.
Jackson was named Defensive Player of the Year. He was joined on the all-defensive team by Purdue senior guard Dakota Mathias, Maryland sophomore guard Anthony Cowan Jr., Penn State junior guard Josh Reaves and Penn State sophomore center Mike Watkins.
UW didn’t have a player on the all-defensive team for the first time since 2008-09. Happ and Zak Showalter made the team a year ago.