A variety of factors prevented Kansas State’s Dean Wade, Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ and Kentucky newcomer Reid Travis from ending the season the way they would have wanted last year.
They want their senior years to conclude differently.
A foot injury caused Wade to play a total of eight minutes in the NCAA Tournament during the Wildcats’ run to an NCAA regional final last season. Wisconsin went 15-18 last season to end a string of 19 straight NCAA Tournament appearances . Travis never reached the NCAA Tournament during his four seasons at Stanford, which included one injury-shortened campaign that resulted in a redshirt.
“I didn’t watch any of the tournament because of how bitter I was about it, about the whole thing,” Happ said. “Obviously life is funny in some ways. Hopefully that great failure turns into something special this season.”
They’re eager to create better March memories this season.
Happ is back for his senior season at Wisconsin. Wade is healthy again and eager to get Kansas State back into the postseason. Travis is now a graduate transfer at Kentucky , a move that significantly improves his chances of getting to the NCAA Tournament.
They’re three of the top seniors in college basketball heading into the season. Here’s a look at some notable seniors across the country.
MIKE DAUM, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
Height: 6-foot-9, Position: Forward
Daum was one of only three Division I players to average over 20 points and 10 rebounds last season, as he ended up with 23.9 and 10.3 points per game. The other 20-10 players were Duke’s Marvin Bagley and Saint Mary’s Jock Landale. Daum also made 96 3-pointers to set a school single-season record. He ranked sixth in the nation in scoring average and 16th in rebounds. This followed a sophomore season in which he had 25.1 points per game. Each of the last two seasons, Daum has been Summit League player of the year and has received honorable mention on the Associated Press All-America team.
ETHAN HAPP, WISCONSIN
Height: 6-10, Position: Forward
This Associated Press preseason All-America selection led the Badgers in points (17.9), rebounds (8.0), assists (3.7), blocks (1.1) and steals (1.5) last season. He was the first Big Ten player to lead his team in all five of those categories since Wisconsin’s Sam Okey did it in 1995-96. This fifth-year senior is one of only five Big Ten players over the last 20 years to have 1,500 career points, 800 rebounds and 250 assists. The others are Purdue’s Robbie Hummel (2008-12), Michigan State’s Draymond Green (2009-12), Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine (2013-16) and Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes (2014-17).
CALEB MARTIN, NEVADA
Martin, a North Carolina State transfer, is an AP preseason All-America selection who helped Nevada reach the Sweet 16 last year. He’s the first Nevada player ever to make the AP preseason All-America team. Martin averaged a team-high 18.9 points and was named the Mountain West player of the year in his first season with Nevada. He made 40.3 percent of his 3-point attempts. Martin’s twin brother, Cody, also plays for Nevada.
LUKE MAYE, NORTH CAROLINA
Maye was a third-team AP All-America selection last season and heads into his senior year as an AP preseason All-America pick. Maye, the son of former North Carolina quarterback Mark Maye, averaged 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds last season. He also won the Skip Prosser Award given annually to the ACC’s top scholar-athlete in men’s basketball.
REID TRAVIS, KENTUCKY
Travis came to Kentucky as a graduate transfer after earning first-team all-Pac-12 honors with Stanford each of the last two seasons. He ranked third in the Pac-12 in scoring (19.5) and rebounding (8.7) last season. Two years ago, Travis averaged 17.4 points and 8.9 rebounds. He had 10.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game during Kentucky’s exhibition tour of the Bahamas this summer.
DEAN WADE, KANSAS STATE
Big 12 coaches have selected Wade as the conference’s preseason player of the year. He earned first-team all-Big 12 honors from the league’s coaches and was a second-team AP all-Big 12 pick last year. He had 16.2 points per game last year for the highest single-season scoring average by a Kansas State player since Jacob Pullen had 20.2 points per game in 2010-11. He also averaged 6.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
Follow Steve Megargee at https://twitter.com/stevemegargee