The college basketball season is officially in offseason mode after former Wisconsin Badgers basketball assistant and Green Bay native, Tony Bennett, led his Virginia Cavaliers to the national championship.
For the Wisconsin Badgers the offseason has been underway for three week now thanks to a first-round exit at the hands of Oregon in the NCAA tournament.
So, as we close out the 2018-19 season, it’s a perfect time to start figuring out where things go from here. So, here’s what I believe needs to be the Badgers offseason to-do list for the 2019-20 season.
Move on from Happ
With one of the best Badgers of all-time graduating, head coach Greg Gard and his coaching staff is going to have one of the biggest challenges of their tenure in Madison.
How do you replace a guy who set nearly every record you can think of in a Badgers uniform and averaged 17.3 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game this season?
The answer likely won’t come in the form of a like-for-like swap though, because UW simply doesn’t have anyone on its roster with that kind of skill set. What that does mean is that UW will have to figure out a whole new way of playing in 2019-20.
Sophomore big man Nate Reuvers showcased a good skill set and an ability to be a reliable player on both sides of the ball this past season. But, he’s better as a slasher and stretch-forward on offense as well as a shot-blocker on the defensive end of the floor.
UW’s best players are guys who are best outside the three-point line and so the whole pass the ball to the big man, kick it out and shoot away offense of the past few seasons is going to have to go away.
Will that mean a switch back to the more traditional swing offense or a more fluid look to free up the athletic players like Kobe King or Brad Davison to be catalysts for the offense?
Wisconsin has to figure out who can represent a consistent post threat on offense or if they need to get more guard heavy instead. If they don’t have that, then it’s on the coaching staff to start to transform this team in to a more athletic group of perimeter orientated players.
Let’s just say the look and feel of this team is going to be priority No. 1 this offseason.
Find Out Potter’s Status
Speaking of the front-court question marks — none looms larger than the status of Ohio State transfer Micah Potter. He transferred this past year, but during the first semester and may not be eligible to start the season.
As of this writing, the NCAA has not ruled on his waiver request.
If he can’t be in the mix from the get-go, UW may have a big dilemma on its hands thanks to a lack of experience and readiness behind Reuvers. Both Joe Hedstrom and Tyler Currie appear to be more developmental talents than plug-and-play guys at this point in their careers.
Potter could be that post presence the Badgers need and would be a great complement to Reuvers in the front-court. Having him for a full season is going to be vital. Otherwise, perhaps the Badgers need to find a forward via the graduate transfer route.
Get King Ready For Bigger Role
Last season we saw glimpses of just how good redshirt freshman Kobe King could be. But, those glimpses were far too few to know that he’s going to be the leader of UW’s offense in 2019-20.
But, if the Badgers offense is going to transform with Happ gone, King is a focal point of that transition. He showed an ability to slash, create his own shot and get to the lane as a guard.
Without the focal point being a big man in the lane, the actual lane to the basket may be more open this upcoming year.
King also was coming off a knee injury and sometimes it can take a full year to get back to feeling confident and healthy on said knee. It appeared that King got more aggressive as the season wore on, so that is good news.
Make no mistake about it, King has to start showing why he was a top 200 player and the No. 2 player in the state of Wisconsin coming out of the 2017 class.
Let’s see if King can make that sophomore leap we see a lot of players make.
Hit on Something Big on the Recruiting Trail
To say the Wisconsin fans are restless when it comes to basketball recruiting would be an understatement. UW has lost out on major in-state talent after major in-state talent since Gard has become head coach and that isn’t fun.
No one will begrudge a kid for choosing whatever school they want, but it seems as if Wisconsin isn’t offering much to transformative talent from the home state these days.
Tyler Herro’s late flip to Kentucky was a massive blow, and makes me wonder if we’re even having these thoughts or discussions should he have stuck with his original commitment to the Badgers.
Still, Herro left and almost every indication is that top 2020 recruit Jalen Johnson will do the same.
Couple that with the fact that UW has put its eggs in the baskets of a handful of prospects, only to be left with nothing at the end with names like DJ Carton, Zeke Nnaji and Joey Hauser to name a few.
Let’s see if this coaching staff pulls out a miracle and gets Johnson to stay in-state or if they can hit on a big name on their board for once. Settling for options like Tai Strickland and lower ranked big men haven’t worked out that well for UW in the past.
Missing out on the window of opportunity that was the Final Four runs is a huge disappointment and some life in recruiting would be hugely helpful.
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.
Badgers basketball land Davis twins
After missing out on the Hauser brothers late last month, the Wisconsin Badgers added a different pair of siblings on Saturday night.
Following an offer to the brother of 4-star shooting guard Johnny Davis and an appearance at a team camp this weekend, the Davis brothers announced their pledge to the Badgers according to Badger247.
It took less than a week after head coach Greg Gard gave the O.K. to offer Jordan for the pair to commit to Wisconsin.
Johnny held offers from Marquette, West Virginia, Iowa, Minnesota, DePaul, UNLV and others.
Jordan had offers from UW-Milwaukee and Green Bay, while also becoming a sought after recruit on the football field as well. Once he became serious about wanting to play basketball first, it seemed like a matter of time before Wisconsin offered.
That time came after seeing Jordan play in a camp last weekend.
It also came because it was time to figure out if Johnny was serious about the Badgers or not.
With the July evaluation period coming up, Wisconsin’s coaching staff put the final chips in the middle with this recruitment and it appeared to pay off.
Johnny joins as the No. 141 ranked player in the country and the No. 14 ranked combo guard in the nation according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
The twins will join Detroit, Mich. native Lorne Bowman in the 2020 class.
Wisconsin still has one scholarship available in the class as well, which is likely being held for 5-star and Wisconsin native Jalen Johnson.
After missing out on talented in-state players over and over again, this was a major win for Gard and his coaching staff considering how hard schools like West Virginia and Marquette were after Johnny’s commitment.
As for Jordan, it appears the coaching staff believes he is improving enough to get a scholarship and continue his improvement with this program.
Offers don’t come out just because it may win over a different recruit at Wisconsin. That wasn’t Bo Ryan’s style and it also isn’t Greg Gard’s style.
The trio of players put the Badgers at No. 8 in the country and No. 3 in the Big Ten in the 2020 class as of today.
Former Badgers get No. 2 seed in The Basketball Tournament Columbus regional
Who doesn’t want $2 million? That’s the prize at stake for winning The Basketball Tournament and a group of former Wisconsin Badgers want in.
On Tuesday it was officially announced that the Kohl Blooded team — spearheaded by former Badgers point guard Kam Taylor — will be the No. 2 seed in the Columbus regional.
They will take on No. 7 seed Mid-American Unity, which is making its second appearance in the TBT after a year off. That group represents teams from across the Mid-American conference.
As for the Badgers, the roster will be made up of some very strong names from the past. The headline names include members of the back-to-back Final Four teams in Nigel Hayes and Vitto Brown. Also joining will be Jordan Taylor, Ryan Evans, Trevon Hughes and recent grad Charles Thomas. You can see the full roster here.
The regionals will take place July 19-21 in Columbus with the winner of this regional meeting seven other winners in Chicago for championship week.
All games will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks, so you should be able to find them either streaming or on cable television.
Kohl Blooded vs. Mid-American Unity will tip at 1pm ET on Friday, July 19.
The winner will take on the winner of Red Scare (Dayton alumni) and The Region (players from Northwest Indiana) in the regional semi-final the next day.
Badgers play final card in attempt to land 2020 G Johnny Davis
A week after losing out on Joey and Sam Hauser, the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program needs some positive momentum on the player acquisition front.
With three scholarships available in the 2020 class and two top in-state players in their sites, the Badgers coaching staff has been about as patient as possible.
On Wednesday, Badger247 reports that UW has offered Jordan Davis, the twin brother of top target Johnny Davis. It’s not a walk-on or grayshirt, but a full scholarship offer.
After two years of waiting for that offer to come, it finally did.
Jordan is an unranked player in basketball at this time, but I expect that to change once the scouting services catch wind of this offer. Johnny Davis is the No. 131 ranked player in the country, a 4-star rated prospect and the No. 3 ranked player in the state of Wisconsin in the 2020 class.
With the brothers set to make a weekend visit for team camp in two weeks, this is a move that undoubtably puts the pressure squarely on Johnny Davis at this point.
Simply put, the Badgers need to know if Davis is going to commit or if they need to move on.
Offering Jordan a full ride is about the only thing left in the Badgers quiver at this point. If getting the dream of playing basketball together at the same school and in-state no less doesn’t tip the scales, at least the Badgers know they can move on.
Is it a desperate move? In some ways one could see it as such. Clearly the Badgers want Johnny in a major way and they see offering Jordan as a critical move that could separate themselves from the competition.
However, this also isn’t a coaching staff willing to just throw away a scholarship in an effort to get a coveted player to play for them. That’s simply not Greg Gard’s style.
Jordan is also a player they see as a contributor, or he wasn’t getting an offer. Plain and simple.
There’s no doubt that this move ups the pressure, like I mentioned before. But, that’s not a bad thing, as UW needs to know where they stand heading in to July’s evaluation period.
If the Davis brothers can’t commit or at least internally give the coaching staff the information that will make them feel comfortable, they need to start getting offers out to other big time players whom they’ve been waiting to offer.
Consider UW is an underdog to land in-state five-star prospect Jalen Johnson, and you have to consider this move a smart one for the long term prospects of the 2020 class.
Will the Davis twins jump at the offer to play together at Wisconsin?
Some in the recruiting world believe this was the situation that was holding Wisconsin back all along. So, don’t be surprised to see this affect the recruitment of both players in a big way.
As for Jordan, his game has also caught the attention of Iowa and Minnesota and he did have scholarship offers from both Green Bay and Milwaukee prior to this one.
What may have really held the Badgers coaching staff and others back was the fact that Jordan is also a good player on the football side and wasn’t sure which sport he wanted to pick.
It seems like UW has gotten the clue that Jordan may be more receptive to a basketball future and pulled the trigger on the offer.
We’ll see how much longer the two stay uncommitted, but don’t be surprised to see something happen following July’s AAU season.
Letting that play out and getting all the offers out there on the table is just a smart move for the twins. From there, it’s up to them and clearly the Badgers have left no stone unturned in this situation.
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