BY MIKE LUCAS
UWBadgers.com Senior Writer
MADISON, Wis. — The 115 victories and back-to-back Final Fours will distinguish them.
"A lot of it's glorified," Nigel Hayes suggested, "and rightfully so with the basketball."
Putting themselves in position to graduate will define them.
"We also did good things in the classroom," said Hayes, "and were able to get a degree."
Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Vitto Brown, Zak Showalter and Jordan Hill are getting to the finish line together as Wisconsin student-athletes. All but Showalter were part of the 2013 recruiting class, which also included Riley Dearring, who transferred, and walk-on Aaron Moesch, who will return as a fifth-year senior. Showalter arrived on campus in 2012 with Sam Dekker and redshirted as a sophomore in '13.
Showalter is still friends with Dekker, who's completing his second season in the NBA with the Houston Rockets. Dekker, who left school after his junior year, turned 23 on Saturday and Showalter wished him a happy birthday via Twitter:
Last Saturday, Showalter had two final exams. He took 12 credits this semester though he needed only nine to graduate. Why do the extra work? "There was a professor I really wanted to take a class with," explained Showalter, who has a double major in finance and risk management. He likes to speak of UW's basketball culture in terms of, "We've got guys who want to learn and are passionate about it."
Hayes has embraced that passion since his mom rewarded him for exemplary marks in elementary school. He got $2 for every "praise-worthy" on his report card — "satisfactory" wasn't good enough. Later, he cashed in on As. "My mother eventually got tired of giving me money," he said. "But something kind of stuck with me. I always had the desire to do well in school."
Photo: Wisconsin Badgers
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