After winning its first three preseason games down under, the Badgers basketball team faced a completely different animal in Melbourne United, a very successful NBL team which beat Texas by 10 earlier in the week. The Badgers ended up losing 90-89 after both leading and trailing by double-digits earlier in the game. Despite the tough loss, it was a great learning experience for a young team and gave us a look at what to expect this season.
Ethan Happ is really good
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) August 20, 2017
I know, I know. We already knew this. But after five Badger-free months, I had forgotten just how good he really is. He reminded me pretty quickly. Happ spun and faked his way into 14 points. At times, he made the Melbourne United defenders, who are full grown adults and professionals, look silly. But it wasn’t just scoring. His defense was superb like usual. He also looks more comfortable passing out of double-teams than he did last year. There is a real chance Happ averages somewhere in the ballpark of 18 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block this season.
D’Mitrik Trice is ready to take the reigns
Trice has made a huge leap in his game from the end of last season until now. He was easily the most improved player on Wisconsin’s roster. Not only was he draining three-pointers and controlling the offense like a pro, but he was able to create opportunities for himself off the bounce. He played confidently and carried himself like a leader. Bronson Koenig is a tough player to follow, but Trice has the tools to make the transition less painful. It looks clear that he is going to be Wisconsin’s second best player this season.
Freshmen look outstanding
It is very rare for Wisconsin players to play major roles as freshmen, but Brad Davison and Kobe King are absolutely ready to contribute. Davison is going to be a fan favorite. He is a high effort, high toughness player that can both shoot and drive to the rim. He is going to garner a lot of comparisons to Josh Gasser.
King, who scored 18 points for the second straight game, looks like he will be a truly special offensive player for the Badgers. He is one of the most versatile and dynamic wings the Badgers have ever had. King can shoot from beyond the arc, get to the rim, score in the post, and attack in transition. He is also a good rebounder for a perimeter player. He is already miles ahead of Khalil Iverson offensively, and it wouldn’t shock me if he became a starter at some point this season.
Second front court position is wide open
D’Mitrik Trice and Ethan Happ will be starters. That is a stone cold lock. Brevin Pritzl and Khalil Iverson will also likely begin the season in the starting lineup, although they will have to fend off the freshmen studs. But the fifth starting spot, at power forward next to Happ, is wide open. And not in a good way.
So far, nobody has really gone out and grabbed the spot by the horns. Junior Alex Illikainen was the favorite to start, but he looks like the same player he has always been. He doesn’t provide much on offense, and while he’s decent at defending the low post, he isn’t a good rim protector.
Junior Andy Van Vliet received a lot of playing time yesterday. He shot well, draining three three-pointers. His ability to stretch the floor for Happ is very enticing, and makes him a good candidate to start. But he plays very soft on defense, and got abused in the post all game by Melbourne United.
There was also a lot of hype around redshirt freshmen Aleem Ford, but through four games he hasn’t shown much to warrant it. He hasn’t been very assertive in looking for his offense. Junior Charles Thomas is a physical rebounder, but like Illikainen, isn’t a very dynamic offensive player.
Nathan Reuvers has a lot of potential, but he is still growing both physically and mentally. He may contribute, but he is not ready to be a starter.
The power forward position is a huge cause for concern for the Badgers. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a single good option. Wisconsin badly needs someone to step up and become a capable starter. Maybe if they could combine Van Vliet and Thomas into one mega player…
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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