Wisconsin power forward Nigel Hayes will enter this year’s draft, but he won’t immediately sign with an agent, allowing him the chance to return to college ball if he wants, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). The 6’8″ 21-year-old is the 49th-best prospect in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings, but Chad Ford of ESPN.com places him well outside draft range at No. 93. Givony believes he has a decent chance to become a first-round pick if he waits on the draft for a year, listing him 30th in his 2017 mock draft. Hayes will retain his college eligibility for next season if he withdraws from the draft by May 25th and doesn’t hire an agent.
He experienced a troubling decline in 3-point shooting percentage from last season to this year, going from 36.9% on 2.5 attempts per game to 29.3% on 3.8 tries. He also rebounded less despite more minutes, collecting 5.8 per contest compared to 6.2 last year, but his scoring average rose from 12.4 to 15.7 as he assumed a more significant role in the Badgers offense.
Hayes wasn’t in the Recruiting Services Consensus Index top 100 coming out of high school, but he played a prominent role as a reserve his freshman year on a team that went to the Final Four. He was a starter the past two seasons, including the 2014/15 run to the national title game. His college postseason career ended poorly this year as he followed up a 30-point regular season finale against Purdue by going just 11 for 54 from the field in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.