Some of those trips include drives down to the Quad Cities to watch Happ's Rockridge (IL) High for scouting trips, which is what he did Feb.7.
Close came away impressed but not because Happ registered a triple-double in a 102-48 victory, but because Happ seems to improve each time Close sees him.
"He's making good progress," said Close. "His team is undefeated and number one in the state. That's the most important thing. He's gotten stronger and is playing well. He's doing a good job."
Rated a three-star prospect by Scout.com, Happ had already been steadily increasing over the course of his past two seasons. After earning AP honorable-mention All-State honors as a sophomore, Happ was a first-team All-State selection as a junior, upping his point production from 15 to 23 and his rebounds from 10 to 11. He did most of it despite fighting through injuries most of the season.
Now he's making his free throws, finishing around the rim, finding his teammates and hitting mid-range jumpers for a team that is 24-0.
"What he's done is he's literally added everything, bits and pieces to his game," said Close. "He's gotten stronger. He's always been a pretty good passer and a good ball handler. He's developed some moves around the basket. His rebounding has improved. His shot has gotten a little better, but he has to keep working on that. He's just steadily improved. He's becoming a better and better player."
Happ likely won't be needed by Wisconsin next season, as the Badgers are projected to lose only one scholarship player while forward Frank Kaminsky will be a senior and Nigel Hayes – in the running for Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year – will likely have a more expanded role.
It's a reason why Close hasn't given Happ anything to work on this season, telling him to focus on winning a state championship before joining the Badgers in the summer.
"He is the team," said Close. "He's got some guys around him who can play, but he's a great leader. He's leading by example as well as being a vocal leader. They've got a chance to go a long way."