From Rockridge Rocket to Wisconsin Badger, Ethan Happ has made the most of every minute he’s on the basketball court.
“This isn’t the aspirations that I had, all those accolades and things like that,” Happ said after Wisconsin’s 65-45 win over Iowa — his final game at the Kohl Center. “I just wanted to come in and get some minutes to start off with…it was special to have the teammates and coaching staff around me that helped me grow.”
His desire for playing time has turned into one of the best careers in Wisconsin basketball history. The Badgers senior is one of six players ever in Division I, NCAA men’s basketball to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 400 assists in a career.
“I’ve always prided myself on that throughout my career, to not only do things offensively, but defensively help out,” Happ said. “Steals, rebounds, blocks, whatever it may be, I’ve always tried to be kind of an everything guy.”
The seeds for Happ’s success were planted growing up in Milan and playing for Rockridge High School. His older brother, Eric, said one of the biggest influences was their father Randy.
“Our dad was very tough on us, but at the same time he was very supportive of us, no matter what we did, whether it was basketball, baseball or football,” Eric said. “So definitely a lot of credit goes out to him for all the time and effort he took away from his full-time job to help us.”
As Happ matured, He also illustrated traits not seen in most high school players.
“I’d never coached another kid that had the drive and the work ethic and the attention to detail that Ethan has and that’s what’s made him successful,” said former Rockridge coach Toby Whiteman.
And it’s likely what makes him humble too, even on the verge of being an All-American. Happ said he still cherishes the encouragement he’s received from the entire Quad Cities area.
“I’ve known from day one whether I came here and flopped and didn’t get any minutes or I came here and did the things that I have done,” Happ said, “I knew that everyone was going to be around me and support me the whole way through.”