« Men’s Basketball 2016-17

Nigel Hayes

Business Finance and Investment Banking


Nigel Hayes is majoring in business finance and investment banking and has a cumulative GPA of 3.049. He is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2015 and 2016) and is expected to graduate on time in May 2017.


Hayes is a leader and one of the captains of the team. He has been an activist for social change in a variety of forums, including racial progress and student-athlete welfare. Said Hayes: “I believe it is our responsibility as people to try to better the world around us, but I recognize that the platform I have allows for greater visibility. I’m trying to use that influence I have to make positive change.”

Head Coach Greg Gard said, “He’s used his college education for something more than just being a basketball player. When I’ve spoken with him on all of his view points on Black Lives Matter and the statements he’s made, his understanding of the history of issues and his knowledge base is outstanding. He’s wise well beyond his 21 or 22 years of age.”

Hayes is charismatic and has a witty personality. He is known for his press conference antics, and he had fun with his large vocabulary at press conferences during last season’s NCAA tournament.


Year-in and year-out, Hayes is among the team leaders in community service hours as part of the Badgers Give Back community outreach program. He has been very involved this year with the Dane County Boys & Girls Club, mentoring youth and helping with fund-raising. Events with which Hayes has volunteered time include Caleb’s Pitch, hospital visits, senior center visits, basketball camps for youth, kids fairs and Make-A-Wish. Hayes also does classroom visits and a year-long Flat Bucky Mentorship Program through which he is paired with a classroom and provides updates with his Flat Bucky throughout the year. He was the university spokesman for the Go Big Read campaign sponsored by the school’s libraries.

Earlier this season, Hayes orchestrated a fundraising initiative that ultimately raised $10,000 to fund a Boys & Club shopping spree for needy families. Hayes joined several Madison-area families at a few local stores to buy Christmas presents and everyday necessities. On that trip, Hayes bonded with one family in particular that was struggling with the diagnosis that their father had terminal cancer. Hayes has subsequently visited the family in the hospital several times and brought teammates along to help bring joy and distraction to an otherwise dire situation.


Hayes was a preseason Big Ten Player of the Year selection this season and is coming off a first-team All-Big Ten campaign in 2015-16. He has been a part of 88 wins in his first three seasons at Wisconsin, helping the Badgers to a pair of Final Fours—including the school’s first national championship game since 1941—and the 2016 Sweet 16. Hayes and Michael Finley are the only Badgers to tally at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists by their junior season. He is also one of just five UW players to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists. Wisconsin’s leading scorer last season, Hayes was one of just three Big Ten players to average at least 15.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 3.0 apg. Hayes entered his senior season ranked 16th in school history with 1,340 career points. He also ranked fourth in both made free throws and free throw attempts after setting UW records with 190 made FTs and 258 FTAs last season.