1. Kobe King will be Wisconsin’s second leading scorer
Even though King may not start a game for the Badgers this season, he is the most offensively gifted guard on the roster. He can score in so many different ways that it makes him nearly impossible to defend. He can drive, shoot three-pointers, post-up, and attack in transition. Oh, and then there is his prolific mid-range game, which will give hoops fans flashbacks to the second best Kobe basketball player of all time. We’ve seen him put up points in Australia and all the scrimmages. Now, it is time for him to show the college basketball world what he can do.
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) November 5, 2017
2. Ethan Happ will lead the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks
Last season, Happ led the the Badgers in all of those categories except for points, which Bronson Koenig took by just .5 points per game. Now, he will almost certainly be the leading scorer. He has also shown improved passing out of double teams, which should lead to even more assists. The only real questionable one is blocks, which Khalil Iverson has a chance to take now that he is a full-time starter. But a stat-line of 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2 steals, and a block is very doable for the All-American Happ.
3. Wisconsin finishes their brutal non-conference schedule 9-3
Wisconsin’s non-conference schedule is loaded this season. They face No.17 Xavier at home, Virginia and Temple on the road, top mid-majors Yale and Western Kentucky, in-state rival Marquette, and a Hall of Fame Classic Field featuring No. 24 Baylor, No. 21 UCLA, and Creighton. Every single one of those game is very losable. However, every single one of those games is also very winnable. While the Badgers play a lot of tough teams, none of them can really be considered elite. That is ideal, because they should have a chance to rack up a ton of quality, top-50 level wins before January.
4.Wisconsin will not finish fourth or better in the Big Ten
I know. I know. But all good things have to come to an end at some point, right? As much as we all fooled ourselves into thinking otherwise, we all knew that the streak couldn’t possibly last forever. With how much Wisconsin is losing combined with how good the Big Ten is this season, it seems like the perfect storm that will finally end one of the most impressive streaks in college basketball. I think Wisconsin will be a good team. But the top four teams in the Big Ten- Michigan State, Purdue, Northwestern, and Minnesota- look like they are on another level. The Badgers could potentially play their way into a tie for fourth like they did in 2015-16, but gun to my head, I say they finish fifth.
5. Khalil Iverson is going to have a breakout season
Iverson is an athletic freak of nature. He has ridiculous strength and hops, along with an uncanny ability to always be around the ball. But up until this point, he hasn’t been able to produce much on offense. This season, that will change. His shot looks a lot better than it did last season. It is softer and has a lot more arc. With improved outside shooting, the rest of his game will open up too. Last season, in games where Iverson played 20 minutes, he averaged eight points. Now, he’ll play more than 20 minutes per game every game, with an improved offensive arsenal. He can easily be a double-digit scorer for the Badgers.
#Badgers Khalil Iverson worked on shooting all offseason. He is 2-2 on threes tonight and looks confident.
— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) November 2, 2017
6. Alex Illikainen will completely fall out of the regular rotation
Illikainen has really struggled in his Badger career so far. The former four-star recruit came to Wisconsin with comparisons to Jon Leuer, but his confidence is just not there. He is hesitant to shoot, which leads to a lot of misses and turnovers. Even in preseason games against lesser competition, he hasn’t looked good. At this point, it is clear that Andy Van Vliet and Charles Thomas are ahead of him. I also think that Aleem Ford will pass him at some point too. By season’s end, Illikainen may be reserved for mop-up duty.
7. Announcers will remind us every game that Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice were high school quarterbacks
In 2013-2014, announcers loved to tell us that Frank Kaminsky only averaged 4.2 points per game his sophomore season. The next season, they told us all about how Nigel Hayes hadn’t attempted a single three-pointer as a freshman. The last two seasons, it was “Did you know Ethan Happ played against Frank Kaminsky in practice as a redshirt freshman?” Now what will the annoying anecdote that announcers repeat every single game be? My best guess is that they won’t stop reminding us that Davison and Trice were high school quarterbacks. But who knows? Maybe they’ll make it a third straight season of talking about Happ guarding Frank in practice.
8. Wisconsin will receive a better NCAA Tournament seed than last year
Despite the fact that they’ll likely finish with a worse conference standing than last season, I think Wisconsin’s Big Dance seed will improve. As stupid as it was, Wisconsin was hurt by their lack of quality wins last season. The Big Ten was down, and their non-conference schedule turned out to be pretty lackluster. This season, Wisconsin should be able to rack up a bunch of quality wins, both in non-conference and conference play.
9. Wisconsin will finish their end of season stretch of four ranked teams 3-1
The last four games on Wisconsin’s schedule are vs No. 20 Purdue, vs No. 15 Minnesota, at No. 19 Northwestern, and vs No. 2 Michigan State. That is a brutal way to end the regular season. But luckily, Wisconsin will be playing their best basketball at the point. The sky’s the limit for this Badgers team. There is a ton of young talent surrounding one of the best players in America. With 25 games under their belt, Wisconsin should be able to compete with any team in the country. I think they’ll go 3-1 in those games, giving them the momentum to make runs in both the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments.
10. We are going to have a lot of fun watching this team
Yes, it is going to be really weird watching Wisconsin Basketball without Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes, and Zak Showalter. Those three guys are going to go down in Wisconsin Basketball history, especially the former two. But there is something exciting about all of the new faces and names. The possibilities are endless. This team is going to be a really good shooting team, with guys like Pritzl, Trice, Davison, King and Van Vliet all deadly from beyond the arc. Happ is one of the most fun players to watch in the country, with his crazy footwork. And now he can apparently shoot three pointers too?
Fans at the Kohl Center: “Wait, Khalil Iverson is hitting 3s this season??”
Ethan Happ: “Hold my Gatorade” pic.twitter.com/JDZR501AAs
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) November 2, 2017
Add in Khalil Iverson monster dunks and Brad Davison driving opposing fan bases nuts and this should be a super fun team to watch. There is a lot of talent on this roster, and watching them develop and grow over the course of the year will be very interesting. Sure, they will probably lose some games they shouldn’t. But they’ll also win some they shouldn’t. It’s going to be an exciting season, and I can’t wait to watch them play.
Badgers basketball lands pair of 4-star players in 2021 class
Witnessing a win over the Northwestern Wildcats must have done the trick, because two of Wisconsin’s biggest targets in the 2021 class both committed on Sunday.
First to commit was the more surprising name, as Top247 point guard Chucky Hepburn.
The No. 23 ranked point guard and No. 141 ranked player in the country per the 247Sports composite rankings chose the Badgers over offers from Minnesota, Nebraska, and Creighton. He also was beginning to see interest from some of the bigger names in college basketball, but chose to pick a team that had been on him for awhile.
“I called coach Gard 30 minutes ago and committed,” Hepburn told Badger247. “The education part was really great. I loved all the academic advisors are part of the basketball program and how they work with them.
“With the basketball side, I fit perfectly with the system they run. I feel like the assistant coaches will help me get where I want to be, because they all played professionally before.”
But, not long after that news broke, word of the biggest target on UW’s list committing would break as well.
Wisconsin would add 4-star forward Matthew Mors to the mix as well.
Mors comes to the Badgers ranked as the No. 115 player in the country and the No. 22 power forward in the nation as well.
The Badgers had been on Mors since his eighth grade year and the persistence paid off, despite other offers across the Big Ten and Big 12 coming to him.
Mors chose Wisconsin over names like Creighton, Iowa State, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, TCU, and more.
With these two pledges, the Badgers have solidified their 2021 recruiting class rather early and they hit on all their top priority prospects as well.
Hepburn and Mors join fellow 4-star player in 6-8 power forward Chris Hodges. With three 4-star players to their name, the Badgers currently own the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.
Yes, Wisconsin isn’t likely to own that No. 1 ranking by the end of the class, but there’s no doubt that the Badgers have done something special in the 2021 class.
It is a huge statement for head coach Greg Gard after the program missed out on some massive in-state names in the past few classes. Many had begun to wonder if the Badgers could ever hit on big targets with Gard as the head coach.
Those thoughts should be put to rest with this class and how the Badgers closed out the 2020 class prior to this.
It should also be noted that assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft was the lead recruiter on each of the last four overall commitments for the Badgers, including 2020 names Steven Crowl and Ben Carlson.
Of course, we won’t know for a while how these big recruiting numbers stack up once they get on the floor for some time. But, winning on the recruiting trail like this puts the Badgers in a much better spot to be competitive for a very long time than previously thought.
Carlson commits to Badgers 2020 basketball class
It appears the 2020 Wisconsin Badgers basketball class has come to a close.
The four-star center chose the Badgers over a who’s who of basketball offers in the Midwest including Ohio State, Xavier, Stanford, Purdue, Creighton, Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa State, Kansas State, Wake Forest, and others.
Much like Crowl, Carlson took his official visit to Madison earlier this month for the Central Michigan football game.
Carlson comes to the Badgers as the No. 15 ranked forward in the entire country per the 247Sports composite rankings, the No. 82 ranked player overall and with a .967 grade from the composite.
He was high up the Badgers list for a long time, even as they targeted other highly rate options at forward like Jalen Johnson. However, as the board began to shake out, it was clear the Badgers wanted Carlson no matter what Johnson or anyone else was going to do in this class.
It appears that the relationship that Carlson formed with the current roster while on his visit is what put the Badgers over the top in this lengthly recruitment.
“A big focus was on getting to know the players, so I hung out with them a lot,” Carlson told Badger247. “They talked about how the coaching staff tells you straight-up how everything is going to be, they don’t sugarcoat anything. They told me about how much they liked it there.”
“I had a pretty good idea of how Wisconsin was going in,” he continued. “The biggest thing was getting to know the players and I really liked them. I know about the history and the campus, but getting to know the players was big for sure.”
Adding this type of nationally known name to an already big class is huge for the Badgers. In fact, UW has the No. 4 ranked class per the 247Sports composite team rankings.
It would be the highest the Badgers have ever finished in the rankings, with the 2006 class under Bo Ryan the next highest at No. 20 in the country.
Wisconsin is getting easily one of the most skilled big men in the class and an instant impact type of player. What has been a question mark up front could easily be a strength of this team quickly thanks to Carlson and Crowl’s commitments to the class.
Badgers add 4-star center to 2020 basketball class
What could be a historic recruiting class for the Wisconsin Badgers got another boost on Tuesday as 4-star center Steven Crowl verbally committed to the Badgers.
He went on his official visit this past weekend and apparently it was all he needed to see.
Crowl has since cancelled trips to other contenders like Colorado, Iowa, and Northern Iowa. He also had an offer from the in-state Gophers and was thinking about a visit there.
However, his official visit for the Central Michigan football game weekend was all he needed to pull the trigger on a commitment to Gard and the Badgers.
Crowl joins an already loaded Badgers 2020 class that includes in-state star Johnny Davis and his twin brother Jordan Davis, as well as the No. 25 ranked point guard in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings, Lorne Bowman.
This class also already has preferred walk-on Carter Gilmore, who chose that offer over other mid-major D1 offers and saw his recruitment pick up considerably in the July evaluation period.
While his name wasn’t a hot one on the recruiting trail, he was a late riser and currently sits as the No. 102 ranked player in the class overall and the No. 17 center in the nation per the 247Sports composite rankings.
The St. Paul, Minn. native is also continuing the pipeline of players coming from the cross-border rival Gopher state. He comes from the same AAU program — Minnesota D1 — that produced both Tyler Wahl and Nate Reuvers.
With Crowl in the fold, Wisconsin has added 12 players from the state of Minnesota in the 247Sports composite era, according to Badger247.
When you take a look at Crowl’s film, what you see is someone that has begun to both physically and mentally mature. He’s got the skill set that UW likes out of their bigs as well, with a nice looking shot from the outside.
However, what you also see on tape is someone that may need to take a year to adjust to the college game and that may be perfectly fine with the coaching staff as they still will have Nate Reuvers and Tyler Wahl to work with up front as starters.
It will be interesting to see how Crowl digests the speed of the college game early on. If he can adjust to that and the physicality, he may indeed find himself in the rotation quickly though.
He is certainly in the mold of what has become the classic Wisconsin big man.
Former Badger Jon Leur traded to Milwaukee Bucks
They say you can always go home, and for one former Wisconsin Badger he’s coming back to a state he called home for four years.
Former Badgers forward Jon Leuer was traded early on Thursday morning from the Detroit Pistons to the Milwaukee Bucks. In exchange for Leuer, the Bucks gave up the 30th overall pick in tonight’s NBA Draft and traded away Tony Snell.
Last season, Leuer played in 41 games for the Pistons and made just one start. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in his ninth season in the NBA.
Leuer is a very similar player to Snell, but comes at a much more team-friendly salary.
In trading away Snell, the Bucks free up an additional $4 million in salary this year and another $12 million next year.
This could be seen as a way for the Bucks to pony up the big money that Khris Middleton wants from the team in order to stay in Milwaukee.
As for Leuer, he is 17th on the all-time Badgers scoring list with 1,376 points to his name. He also finished his career with 551 rebounds.
Leuer’s final season in Madison was his best statistically, as he helped lead the 2010-11 Badgers team to the Sweet 16. He averaged 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game that year.
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