Becoming a basketball All-American at the University of Wisconsin? It is a rare feat indeed. Entering this season just five players had ever garnered those honors according to the Associated Press.
Earlier this week, sophomore forward Ethan Happ became No. 6 after being selected to the AP third-team All-American list. He joins Frank Kaminsky (2015), Alando Tucker (2007) Jordan Taylor (2011), Devin Harris (2004) and Don Rehfeldt (1950).
It got us to thinking about this group as a whole, especially because so many of the names on the list are familiar ones to this generation of Badgers fans. So, let us re-introduce you to some names or flat-out introduce you to others as well.
6. Ethan Happ (2016)
Becoming the sixth AP All-American player in UW basketball history is certainly nothing to sneeze at. However, he is one of just two players on this list to be named to the last of the three teams the AP puts out.
This season seemed like a disappointment for large swaths, but Happ stood out as a star for the vast majority of the year. He ended up averaging 14.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. Those numbers were tops on the team in every category except points, where Bronson Koenig’s 14.5 points per game average was better.
You would be hard-pressed to find a better all-around post player than Happ this past season. Some would suggest the best is yet to come after just two years in a Badgers uniform, but let’s also remember just how special this season was for Happ.
Not only was he a third-team All-American selection, Happ also picked up first-team All-Big Ten honors as well. We’d take Happ as one of our first selections in any draft thanks to his all-around game (if only he could add free throw shooting to his arsenal this offseason).
5. Jordan Taylor (2011)
What more do you want from a point guard in a Badgers team? Very few point guards were as powerful and team-orientated at the same time as Taylor was in his UW career. In the 2010-11 season, Taylor took the program on his back like a good leader needs to at times.
He finished the year averaging 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 0.7 steals per game. Even more impressive. Taylor shot a career-best 42.9 percent from beyond the arc and 43.3 percent from the field overall.
Who can forget his memorable 39-point performance in Assembly Hall against the Hoosiers?
Those numbers led Taylor to becoming a second-team AP All-American pick and a Wooden Award (for the best player in the nation) finalist.
Taylor became the first of UW’s All-American honorees to return for another season. It didn’t work out as well for himself personally the next season, but there is no denying the 2010-11 season was one of the most fun individual seasons to watch in recent memory.
4. Devin Harris (2004)
At this point this list is just splitting hairs it seems like. Harris’ junior season in 2004 was one of the best single seasons in Wisconsin Badgers basketball history. Harris put up 19.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game during the 2003-04 season and was named the Big Ten Player of the Year as a result. His 624 points on the year also put him third on UW’s single season scoring list.
Somehow those numbers were only good enough for second-team AP All-American honors. But, that is water under the bridge at this point. Arguably, no Badgers player has gone on to have a better NBA career in the last 30 years than Harris has had personally.
It didn’t hurt that he was one of the most deadly jump shooters in the college game at the time. He shot an impressive 45.9 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from beyond the arc as well. After three years at UW, Harris left with 1,425 career points and ranks 11th in school history in career points scored, in just three years.
This note makes me personally feel old — as Harris was inducted in to the UW Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.
3. Alando Tucker (2007)
How do you top a season like Harris’ effort in 2003-04? You put on a tape (because those things were still in use back in 2006-07) of Alando Tucker’s senior season in 2006-07.
Tucker did some major work in the 2006-07 season, as he was one of just two players on the team to average in double figures (19.9 points). He also picked up 5.4 rebounds and dished out 2.0 assists per game. So, what makes his season better than Harris’? Well, he does rank second on the single season scoring chart with 716 points and was tops in school history at the time (more on that later on in this list).
Much like Harris and others on this list, Tucker’s numbers were good enough to earn Big Ten Player of the Year and second-team AP All-American honors.
2. Don Rehfeldt (1950)
This name and place may shock some, because Rehfeldt was “just” a third-team All-American pick back in the 1949-50 season. However, that was a criminally underrated selection in our book. It also was a criminally underrated selection by the day, as Rehfeldt earned first-team All-American honors from other organizations outside of the Associated Press.
His play in the 1949-50 season was certainly worth the first-team selection, as he averaged 19.8 points per game. That scoring average led him to be selected the Big Ten (then the Western Conference) MVP in 1950. He was also the second overall pick in the 1950 NBA Draft by the then Baltimore Bullets.
Rehfeldt left the program as its all-time leading scorer (and still ranks 27th in UW’s all-time scoring list) with 1,169 points. Just how important was Rehfeldt to UW basketball history? He was in the first class to be inducted to the UW Athletics Hall of Fame.
While you and I don’t have personal memories of his playing days and the modern game is much different, there’s little doubt that Rehfeldt was one of the most important players in Badgers basketball history.
1. Frank Kaminsky (2015)
Kaminsky feels like the classic Bo Ryan player story. He was a relatively unknown player coming in to college and by the time he was a senior became one of the most dominant players at his position in the country.
It is hard to argue that Kaminsky doesn’t belong at the top spot given his 2015 season. All he did was average 18.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. Kaminsky also shot a career-high 54.7 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from beyond the arc (making a career-best 42 three-pointers).
Oh, and did we mention he was the leader of a team that went to the national championship game? UW’s first since the 1941 season in which it won its lone national championship.
Kaminsky’s season was the best single season scoring output in school history (732) and the 2014-15 season also saw him rank third in rebounds and fifth in rebounds. Hard to top that kind of performance on that kind of team.
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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