Ethan Happ has a chance to leave his mark as one of the most decorated players in University of Wisconsin men’s basketball history.
The senior center joined an exclusive list Tuesday when he was named to the Associated Press preseason All-America team.
Happ joins Michael Finley (1994-95), Jordan Taylor (2011-12), Frank Kaminsky (2014-15) as the only UW players to receive that honor.
Joining Happ on the team were Purdue junior guard Carsen Edwards, North Carolina senior forward Luke Maye, Duke freshman swingman R.J. Barrett, Kansas junior forward Dedric Lawson and Nevada senior forward Caleb Martin.
Edward was the leading vote-getter, appearing on 63 of the 65 ballots. Happ and Martin tied for the fifth spot.
As a junior, Happ was the only player the nation to lead his team in scoring (17.9), rebounds (8.0), assists (3.7), blocks (1.1) and steals (1.5). He needs 459 points and 25 rebounds to become the fourth player in Big Ten history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
Happ declared for the NBA draft last spring but didn’t sign with an agent and returned to UW after working out for several teams. The biggest feedback Happ got from front-office personnel, he said, was that he needs to improve his free throw shooting and expand his offensive game away from the rim.
“I’m around him every day, so I have an appreciation for where he was two years ago, three years ago, where he was last year and how he’s gone,” UW coach Greg Gard said recently of Happ, who was a third-team AP All-American as a sophomore in 2017. “The impact and the fingerprints he’s had on our success, on and off the court, can’t be disregarded. He does a lot of good things for our team.”
Happ, a two-time All-Big Ten first-team selection, enters his final season in the top 10 in several major categories at UW. He’s eighth in scoring (1,541), second in rebounds (875), third in steals (179) and sixth in blocked shots (110). He’s also 17th in assists (270) and is on pace to finish in the top 5 that category as well.
“If he just has a normal year, he’ll be in the top 3 in five statistical categories in our program,” Gard said. “He will be on the Mt. Rushmore in terms of Wisconsin basketball.”
Like Happ, Edwards went through the NBA draft combine and multiple workouts before deciding to return to college.
The 6-foot-1 Edwards was a third-team All-American last season after averaging 18.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He’s expected to play a bigger role as the leader and go-to player on a young team.
Edwards is Purdue’s first preseason AP All-American since JaJuan Johnson in 2010-11.
“He’s a very dynamic player. He’s unique from a physical standpoint,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “He’s kind of got the body and the explosiveness like a Saquon Barkley. He plays through his offense. I think for guys like that, as you get older, you get more experience, more responsibility, but you don’t change who you are.”
Like Edwards, Maye was a third-team All-American who entered his name into the draft before withdrawing. Last season, the 6-foot-8 forward averaged 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds while shooting 49 percent from the floor and 43 percent from 3-point range.
Maye hit the shot that beat Kentucky to send the Tar Heels to the Final Four as a sophomore during their 2017 title run.
“I don’t know how much more we can ask of him,” North Carolina teammate Kenny Williams said. “I mean, 17 and 10, that’s hard to do, especially in the ACC.”
Barrett arrived at Duke as the marquee player in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s latest stellar recruiting class. An athletic 6-7 forward from Canada, he was widely regarded as the top recruit in the 2018 class and has been projected as the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NBA draft.
“Besides his ability, he has a passion to compete,” Krzyzewski said. “This young man has it. I love him and I’m glad I’m going to have the opportunity to spend some time with him.”
Lawson averaged 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds in two seasons at Memphis before opting to transfer to Kansas. The 6-8 swingman is expected to have a huge impact on the Jayhawks after sitting out last season, both in leadership and multiple roles on the floor.
“He needs to be able to play everywhere for us,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “There’s times where he can be our best point guard. I think there are times he could be our best low-post scorer, so we’ve got to move him around and come up with some creative ways to do that.”
Martin became Nevada’s first preseason All-American after testing the NBA draft waters with his twin brother, Cody, during the offseason. The 6-7 senior averaged 18.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists while leading the Wolf Pack to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Nevada has its highest preseason ranking in program history at No. 7 entering this season.
The Associated Press 2018-19 preseason All-America team, with school, height, year and votes from a 65-member national media panel (key 2017-18 statistics in parentheses):
Carsen Edwards, Purdue, 6-1, 200, sophomore, 63 votes (18.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 40.6 3pt fg pct, 1.1 steals)
Luke Maye, North Carolina, 6-8, 240, senior, 52 (16.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.4 apg, 43.1 3pt fg pct, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks)
R.J. Barrett, Duke, 6-7, 202, freshman, 50 (high school: 28.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 4.5 apg)
Dedric Lawson, Kansas, 6-9, 235, junior, 30 (Memphis 2016-17: 19.2 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2.1 blocks, 1.3 steals)
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin, 6-10, 237, senior, 23 (17.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 3.7 apg, 52.8 fg pct, 1.5 steals)
Caleb Martin, Nevada, 6-7, 205, senior, 23 (18.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.6 apg, 40.3 3pt fg pct, 1.3 steals)
Other receiving votes: Grant Williams, Tennessee, 18; Tyus Battle, Syracuse, 11; Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga, 10; Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s, 10; Kyle Guy, Virginia, 8; Mike Daum, South Dakota State, 6; Markus Howard, Marquette, 5; Reid Travis, Kentucky, 5; Zion Williamson, Duke, 3; Tremont Waters, LSU, 2; Cassius Winston, Michigan State, 2; Sagaba Konate, West Virginia, 1; Romeo Langford, Indiana, 1; Eric Paschall, Villanova, 1; Jontay Porter, Missouri, 1.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.