Wisconsin center Ethan Happ can add another accolade to his breakout 2016-17 season, as the sophomore was named as a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award on Friday.
Happ has been a revelation for the Badgers this season, averaging 14.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, both team-highs. He also ranks second in the Big Ten in steals with 2.0 per game and 11th in blocks with 1.0 per game. Those numbers could also deserve a boost considering the suppressing effect that Wisconsin’s pace can have on its players’ statistics.
His resume is growing as diverse as his game.
Ethan Happ, a finalist for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year.
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) February 3, 2017
Happ winning the award would give Wisconsin two winners in the award’s three-year history, as Frank Kaminsky took home the award in its inaugural 2014-15 season, the year Kaminsky won just about every award possible. Utah’s Jakob Poeltl won the award last season.
Happ was the sole finalist from the Big Ten. Indiana’s Thomas Bryant and Purdue’s Isaac Haas were on the watch list released during preseason, but they didn’t make the cut this time around. Happ has been named the Big Ten’s Player of the Week for the last two weeks, a span in which he averaged 22 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Not bad considering his background.
Ethan Happ's other scholarship offers out of high school — UW-Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay.
— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) January 28, 2017
This probably won’t be the final accolade for Happ. He and Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan have each been named a Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award finalist on Thursday for Big Ten Player of the Year.
CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander had a good write-up of the competition going on between the conference’s premier big men, stating that it is essentially a battle of raw stats (Swanigan) against efficiency (Happ). Swanigan ranks No. 2 to Happ’s No. 3 in the KenPom Player of the Year race.