Connect with us

Badgers Basketball

Biggest Storylines for Wisconsin Badgers basketball this offseason

The Badgers basketball program has a lot of questions to answer following a dramatic fall from Big Ten supremacy in 2017-18. Which storylines are the most worth examining this offseason?



With another NCAA championship game in the books and another Big Ten team failing to end the drought that now stands at 18 seasons, it is officially time for all of college basketball to really start looking ahead to next season.

For the University of Wisconsin, that process has been underway for a month now. So, after resting the body and getting Spring Break out of the way, it is now time to look at what needs to be done this offseason.

Given Wisconsin’s fall from grace, there are a lot of things to figure out this offseason.

What are the biggest storylines to watch as the offseason unfolds? Let’s take a look at our top three.

Will Happ Stay or Go?

It seems almost certain that star center Ethan Happ will stay with the Wisconsin Badgers for his final season. We’ve documented our reasons why earlier this week. But, there’s no doubt that this team looks and plays very differently with or with him in the lineup.

Even if the Badgers and their fanbase firmly believe Happ is coming back, what version of Happ will the Badgers see? Will it be the same old reliable Happ down low, or will he be working hard on the points that NBA scouts give him in the draft process?

If it is the latter, Wisconsin could have itself a really interesting lineup next season. One that could be much more versatile and difficult to defend. Imagine defending against a 6-11 guy who can dribble, drive, has all the moves around the hoop and suddenly has developed a serviceable shot from mid-range…it certainly would change how UW looks.

But, should Happ get really good news and be a potential first-round pick, Wisconsin also looks very different next season…which brings us to our second offseason storyline…

Nate Reuvers’ Development

Speaking of issues up front, the Wisconsin Badgers clearly needed Nate Reuvers’ game in a big way last season. His ability to be a forward that could square up and shoot from outside of five feet was a big help to UW’s offense. It was a shame though, because Reuvers really could’ve used an entire year to just focus on his body and some of the finer points of the game.

That much showed down the stretch as his numbers began to dip and his presence down low was not a good thing defensively more often than not. His body just couldn’t handle it anymore.

But, he did end up averaging 5.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game in his first season in a Badgers uniform. Those were not bad numbers behind Happ to say the least.

As we turn to next season, there are a lot of questions about where Reuvers’ game will go.

Can he turn the in-game experience he got in to increased productivity? Will that only come now in the offseason as he focuses on adding weight and becoming a better defensive player for the Badgers?

The ability of Reuvers to be a starter opposite of Happ next season is going to largely depend on what he does with his body this offseason. If he can add the weight needed, look for the Badgers to find a way to get him starting minutes. If not, UW may be wiser to go with a three-guard look and allow Reuvers to come off the bench.

Wisconsin really needs Reuvers to develop this offseason, because it is clear they can’t count on soon-to-be seniors like Alex Illikainen and Charlie Thomas. Add in the loss of Andy Van Vliet to transfer and things get really interesting. Sure, UW adds 6-10 center Joe Hedstrom and Top 247 forward Taylor Currie to the mix, but Hedstrom is likely to gray-shirt and Currie was supposed to be a 2019 recruit before re-classifying to 2018. That means both could be in line to not play next season and thus still leaving the Badgers short-handed up front.

Gard’s Dilemma at Guard

Believe it or not, Wisconsin’s most pressing offseason situation may be at guard…and it may not be a bad thing at all. After UW had to throw freshman Brad Davison into his unnatural position of point guard in 2017-18, that shouldn’t be the case in 2018-19 thanks to a rebuilt point guard situation.

D’Mitrick Trice is likely to get a nearly lost season back with a medical hardship waiver, but either way his injured foot should be 100 percent ready to go this offseason. He’ll have competition for the starting job though, as former recruit and Green Bay transfer Trevor Anderson will become available and 2018 recruit Tai Strickland will join the group in the summer.

That should move Davison to his more natural position of shooting guard, but he’ll be on the sideline for part of the offseason after surgery to repair a bad shoulder. It also means that Kobe King’s roll is less a sure thing too.

Wisconsin has a lot of different combinations it can throw on the court this upcoming season. Sorting out the rotation and with combinations work best together will likely be Gard’s biggest issue this offseason.

Coming on the heels of a brutal 2017-18 at guard, a loaded group is a welcomed sight. So, just who will shine and how will the Badgers look heading in to the undetermined season opener in November? Anyone that pretends to know exactly how this group of guards will shake out has information even head coach Greg Gard doesn’t have.

Ultimately though, it may be Gard’s decision at guard that makes his fourth season at the helm of the program a success or keeps the Badgers in mediocrity. If it’s the latter, the pressure certainly will be on for Gard’s job. He simply has to get this guard situation right if UW is going to get back to winning a lot of basketball games.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Badgers Basketball

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.

Continue Reading

Badgers Basketball

Carlson commits to Badgers 2020 basketball class



It appears the 2020 Wisconsin Badgers basketball class has come to a close.

A day after forward Steven Crowl committed, we now have word that top target Ben Carlson, a fellow Minnesota native, has committed to the Badgers as well.

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.

Continue Reading

Badgers Basketball

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.

Continue Reading

Badgers Basketball

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.

Continue Reading


© 2019 Facere Media. This site is not affiliated with, endorsed or sponsored by the University of Wisconsin, it's athletic department or any other university entity. It is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only and is no way associated with the NCAA, the Big Ten or any member institutions.