Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes is the face the fight against NCAA, amateurism needs

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WASHINGTON — Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes has never been afraid of taking a fight public.

He was one of three named athletes to join a lawsuit against the NCAA two years ago. He has been outspoken on issues regarding race and police brutality in America. And over the weekend, a picture of Hayes holding a sign at College Gameday in Madison that read “Broke College Athlete Anything Helps” went viral.

(According to Deadspin, the Venmo account listed on that sign belongs to someone from Hayes’ hometown. A similar Venmo account that also received payments is registered to Hayes. Hayes told ESPN that any money sent to the accounts will be donated to Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County.)

He’s exactly the spokesman that college kids need in this fight.

There’s no better example of a kid that is being taken advantage of by the NCAA’s rules on amateurism and the inability to pay a player what he or she is worth.

Because Hayes is getting screwed.

For the majority of Division I athletes, getting school paid for in exchange for playing a sport is actually a pretty good deal. The senior sixth-man playing for American or Quinnipiac getting a quality education paid for cannot complain about being ripped off.

Hayes can.

According to a 2015 study by a professor from South Florida that was published in the Journal of Sports Economics, five-star basketball prospects should be paid $613,000 in compensation. Four-star recruits are worth more than $160,000 while three-star prospects are valued at $91,000. Hayes was a four-star prospect, but he’s not an average four-star player.

Hayes played in the Final Four his first two seasons. He reached the national title game, playing alongside the National Player of the Year in Frank Kaminsky, as a sophomore. He was an all-Big Ten player as a junior and is the Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year as a senior. Not only that, but Hayes has spent his college career as one of the most colorful characters in the sport. Whether it was making a video as Nigel Burgundy, his infatuation with a stenographer that went viral, his shots at conference rivals or his charity work with Dictionary.com, Hayes is always in the spotlight for one reason or another. There’s an argument to be made that he’s the most recognizable face in college hoops this side of Grayson Allen.

The difference is that Hayes is well-known as opposed to notorious.

He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s likeable, he’s a good-looking kid. He’s everything that an advertiser would look for in a spokesman – more on that in a second.

Let’s add it all up. Hayes is worth $160,000 to his university simply for being a four-star prospect, but that’s before you consider his fame in the world of college athletics and the fact that he plays for Wisconsin, a massive national brand, in a league that pays the Badgers an estimated $40 million to broadcast football and basketball games.

I was able to speak to Hayes in a Washington D.C. Marriott where rooms start around $250 a night for Big Ten media day because the league made promises to Maryland and Rutgers that their push east – as blatant as blatant cash grabs can be – would mean the league would host more events on this side of the country. The Big Ten, a league centered in the midwest, will host its tournament at the Verizon Center in D.C. this March.

It’s probably worth mentioning here that Hayes will be wearing an Under Armour logo on every piece of Wisconsin gear he owns because the school signed an apparel deal worth nearly $100 million with the company this year.

In other words, based on the massive amount of money Wisconsin is bringing in via their football and men’s basketball programs this year and in the future, it’s safe to say Hayes is probably more valuable to Wisconsin than an average four-star recruit is to an average university.

And that’s before you consider the money that he loses out on due to amateurism.

How many car washes in Madison would want to be sponsored by Hayes? How many clothing stores would give him unlimited outfit options in exchange for wearing their products? I don’t know if Hayes loves cheese curds, but the good people of Wisconsin love cheese curds and I’m sure there are a few restaurants in the area that would be willing to spend some money to get Hayes to say his favorite cheese curds are their cheese curds.

But he’s not allowed to tap into that earning potential.

Because NCAA owns those rights.

And here is the most important part: Hayes is never again going to be this marketable.

There’s a reason he’s not in the NBA right now. Hayes declared. He went through the draft process and was told, more or less, that he’s not an NBA player, at least not right now. Not when he’s shooting 36 percent from the floor and 29 percent from three as a 6-foot-7 small-ball four.

This is as marketable and as profitable as he’s ever going to be, and the NCAA eliminates any ability he has to take advantage of that. Because they’re here for the academics, remember?

“We’re not student-athletes. We’re here to play sports,” Hayes, who is finishing up a business degree, said. “Some of us are missing class to be here right now.”

He’s stuck with a “salary” that the NCAA mandates cannot be more than his $40,000-a-year scholarship – in the 1990s, coaches won a lawsuit against the NCAA, saying their salaries were illegally restricted – and as nice as it is to be able to leave school without having to worry about those monthly loan payments for the next 30-something years, Hayes is good enough that he should be leaving school with enough money to put a down payment on a house and start a business so that he can put that degree to good use whether he decides to play professional basketball or not.

And if you think Hayes is going to spend his final year in college sitting idly by as money is taken out of his pocket, you’ve lost your mind.

As Hayes puts it, “Momma ain’t raise no punk.”

Tennessee center Tamari Key out for season with blood clots

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee senior center Tamari Key will miss the rest of this season because of blood clots in her lungs, coach Kellie Harper said.

Doctors found the issue during testing. Key is expected to make a full recovery after treatment from University of Tennessee doctors, Harper said, adding that her sole concern is Key getting the medical care she needs to heal and return to full strength.

Key missed the first game of her career in a win Tuesday night over Chattanooga after playing her first 99.

“This is much bigger than basketball. We are so grateful that this medical condition was caught,” Harper said in a statement. “Our entire program will be right beside Tamari during this process and welcomes prayers and positive thoughts from Lady Vol Nation and beyond.”

The Lady Vols opened the season ranked fifth but currently are 5-5.

The 6-foot-6 Key from Cary, North Carolina, currently is Tennessee’s third-leading scorer averaging 8.4 points a game and averaged 4.2 rebounds per game. She started all 34 games as the Lady Vols reached their first Sweet 16 since 2016 last season and set the school record with 119 blocked shots.

Key had 18 blocks this season and 295 for her career, five away from becoming the eighth woman to reach that mark in Southeastern Conference history.

No. 7 Tennessee beats Eastern Kentucky, win streak hits 7

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tyreke Key scored 10 of the first 12 points of the second half and finished with 17, and No. 7 Tennessee overcame a sluggish first half and beat Eastern Kentucky 84-49 on Wednesday night.

“Tyreke is handling the ball now,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “That’s all new to him. He keeps getting better.”

The Volunteers (8-1) struggled in the first half but still built an 11-point lead over Eastern Kentucky (4-5) on the way to their seventh straight victory.

Key led Tennessee in scoring before leaving with a cramp in his right leg with 6:15 left in the game. Julian Phillips had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Zakai Zeigler and Uros Plavsic added 13 points apiece. Olivier Nkamhoua scored 10.

“I’m still settling in,” said Key, a transfer from Indiana State who didn’t play last year while recovering from an injury. “This is a new role. I’m taking steps every day and keep learning.”

Eastern Kentucky, which came into the game averaging 83.5 points, was held well below that total due to 17% (6 for 35) shooting from long range and 22% (15 for 68) overall. Leland Walker led the Colonels with 13 points.

It was the seventh time this season Tennessee has held its opponent to 50 or fewer points.

“(Tennessee) is the best defensive team in the country,” Eastern Kentucky coach A.W. Hamilton said. “I think they’re the best team in the country.”

At one point in the first half, Tennessee was shooting 20% and still leading by 10 points. The teams combined to shoot 4 of 32 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. The Vols, who shot 24% (8 of 34), led 32-21 at the break.

“If we can’t make shots, can you find a way to win the game?” Barnes said. “When the shot’s not going in, find a way to play. The first thing we talk about is our defense.”

Tennessee shot 41 free throws. Phillips, a true freshman, was 7 of 10.

“(Phillips) has learned the pace of the game,” Barnes said. “I’m not sure there’s been a more effective freshman in the country (this season).”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Since its early season slip against Colorado, Tennessee has had a steady ascent in the rankings. The Vols’ next two games – neutral site (Brooklyn) against No, 13 Maryland (Dec. 11) and at No. 10 Arizona (Dec. 17) – will go a long way toward justifying the No. 7 ranking.

BIG PICTURE

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels’ run-and-gun style of offense had them averaging 83.5 points through their first eight games. They ran into a defensive buzz saw in Tennessee, which was yielding just over 51 points.

Tennessee: Santiago Vescovi sat out his second straight game with a shoulder problem. He is expected to be ready to play Sunday against Maryland. . The Vols have won seven in a row since their loss to Colorado.

UP NEXT

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels host Boyce College on Saturday.

Tennessee: Take on No. 13 Maryland on Sunday at the Hall of Fame Invitational in New York.

Hoggard scores career-high 23, Michigan State snaps 2-game skid

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A.J. Hoggard scored a career-high 23 points, Joey Hauser had 12 points and 15 rebounds and Michigan State beat Penn State 67-58 on Wednesday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

Michigan State (6-4, 1-1 Big Ten) avoided going .500 or worse after 10 games for the first time in 18 seasons.

Hoggard blocked an open layup with less than a minute to play and Hauser grabbed the rebound before being fouled and making two free throws at the other end for a 66-58 lead.

Hoggard, Hauser and Tyson Walker combined for 31 of Michigan State’s 32 second-half points.

The Michigan State defense allowed only one made field goal in the final five minutes. Penn State was just 1 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half after 7 of 18 before halftime.

Walker scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half for Michigan State. Hoggard, who entered third in the conference in assists at 6.3, had six rebounds, two assists and one key block.

Hoggard gave Michigan State 35-33 lead – its first since 4-2 – after back-to-back three-point plays with 59.3 seconds left in the first half. It was tied at 35-all at the break.

Seth Lundy scored 16 points and Jalen Pickett had 13 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists for Penn State (6-3, 0-1)

Michigan State hosts Brown on Saturday. Penn State, which hadn’t played since a double-overtime loss to Clemson on Nov. 29, plays at No. 17 Illinois on Saturday.

No. 7 Virginia Tech posts 9th straight win, beats Boston College 73-58

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BOSTON — Reigning Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Elizabeth Kitley had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Cayla King scored 16 on Wednesday night to lead No. 7 Virginia Tech to a 73-58 victory over Boston College, the Hokies’ ninth straight win.

Taylor Soule, one of two BC transfers on the roster for Virginia Tech (9-0, 1-0 ACC), added nine points and five rebounds. Soule scored more than 1,500 points and grabbed almost 700 rebounds in four seasons at BC, earning All-ACC honors three times.

Andrea Daley scored 15 points and Maria Gakdeng scored 14 for BC (7-4, 0-1). They each grabbed six rebounds.

Virginia Tech scored 17 of the game’s first 21 points and led by as many as 19 in the third quarter before BC cut the deficit to 10 in the fourth. Leading 64-54 with under three minutes left and the shot clock expiring, Kayana Traylor hit a 3-pointer for the Hokies.

Gakdeng missed two free throws for BC, and then Kitley scored from inside to make it a 15-point game.

Clara Ford, who also played four years in Chestnut Hill, pitched in 2 points in 2 minutes against her former team.

BIG PICTURE

At No. 7, the Hokies have the highest ranking in the program’s history. With the victory over BC, a 10th straight win against North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday would leave Virginia Tech in position to move up even higher should a top five team falter.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: Hosts North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday.

Boston College: Hosts Albany on Saturday.

Michigan’s Jaelin Llewellyn out for season with knee injury

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan point guard Jaelin Llewellyn is out for the rest of the season with an injured left knee and is expected to have surgery next month.

Wolverines coach Juwan Howard made the announcement three days after Llewellyn was hurt in a loss to Kentucky in London.

Llewellyn transferred to Michigan from Princeton last spring and that seemed to lead to Frankie Collins transferring to Arizona State after a solid freshman season for the Wolverines.

Llewellyn averaged seven points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in eight games at Michigan. He was an All-Ivy League player last season and averaged nearly 16 points over three seasons at Princeton.