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The Starting 5: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina State basketball preview

Wisconsin begins its 2017-18 season with a home game against the South Carolina State Bulldogs. We preview what to watch for.



Wisconsin Basketball is finally back! After the Australia trip and three exhibitions, Wisconsin’s tilt with South Carolina State will be their first real game of the season. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. Unfortunately, the game will air on BTN Plus and cost $10 to watch, which is ridiculous. But hey, it has been a long off-season, and it is great to have Badger basketball back on TV (kind of).

Now it’s time for the Starting Five, which is the name of our all new preview format in which we give you five interesting facts, stats, observations, or things to watch for the upcoming game.

1. South Carolina State is projected to be the fourth worst team in the country.

Yeah, that’s not very good. Out of 351 division-1 basketball teams, the Pomeroy Ratings projected the Bulldogs to be 348th. This should be a blowout for Wisconsin, which will be a good way for some of the young Badger players to gain some confidence with Yale, Xavier, and Baylor coming up shortly. Look for Greg Gard to tinker with the lineup all game, as he is still likely trying to figure out the best combinations.

2. Potential Nathan Reuvers Redshirt

This will actually be the part of the game that has the biggest impact on not only this season, but the next five seasons of Wisconsin Basketball. The 6’10 power forward was a 247 Sports Composite top-75 player and four-star recruit. However, the Badgers have a lot of depth at power forward and center, so minutes could be hard to come by. In addition, he is still a too skinny for a Big Ten player. For that reason, he has a big decision to make. If he plays, he would likely contribute in garbage time for the first half of the season before getting a few rotation minutes in the second half. But by taking a redshirt season, he could use the time to bulk up, develop, and still have four seasons of eligibility left.

3. Ethan Happ three-pointers

So Ethan Happ shoots three-pointers now. No, seriously. He went 1-2 from beyond the arc in Wisconsin’s exhibition win against University of Northern Iowa. For those of you that need to see it to believe it, here you go.

He will likely have the opportunity to attempt a few tonight. If the Badgers are up big, which they should be, Happ will likely have the green light to fire at will. This type of game is perfect to test out new skills and gain confidence.

4. Frontcourt Rotation

Junior Andy Van Vliet has likely locked up the starting big man spot next to Happ. But after that? The front court rotation is anyone’s guess. Junior Alex Illikainen is the most experienced of those bigs, but he has struggled in live game action. Junior Charles Thomas is huge and has shown flashes but is inconsistent. Redshirt freshman Aleem Ford has loads of talent but hasn’t put it all together yet. All of those guys are fighting for a spot in the rotation, and tonight’s is a great chance to build some early momentum.

5. The Freshman Guards

Freshman guards Kobe King and Brad Davison have generated a huge amount of hype in the preseason. King, like the player he was named after, is a gifted scorer. He can drive, post-up and shoot from  beyond the arc and mid-range. Meanwhile, Davison is going to be a fan favorite. He’s a natural leader that will do whatever it takes to win. However, he’s not just a glue guy. He can also be a scorer, as he is a sharpshooter from deep and can use his strength to get to the rim. Tonight will be the first of their many wins as Badgers.

Prediction: Wisconsin 85, South Carolina State 53

Wisconsin is going to win this game, and it won’t be close. I know the Badgers lost their opener two seasons ago to Western Illinois, but that was a completely different situation. First of all, South Carolina State is not a good basketball team. As we established earlier, they are actually one of the worst teams in the country. Second, Wisconsin has a lot of games under its belt. This game is interesting because it is our first actual look at a brand new team, and we don’t really know what to expect. The actual game itself will not be interesting at all.

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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.

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Badgers Basketball

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.

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Badgers Basketball

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.

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Badgers Basketball

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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