It’s hard to believe, but Wisconsin Basketball is just around the corner! After missing the NCAA Tournament and making the NIT semi-finals last season, the Badgers open their season November 1 with an exhibition game against UW-Stevens Point. Wisconsin was fortunate to bring back their entire starting five along with a good freshman class and a good transfer player in A.J. Storr. As we near the season, here are three questions Wisconsin Basketball needs to answer this season.
Max Klesmt and A.J. Storr For the Final Starting Spot
I believe A.J. Storr was a fantastic get for the Badgers out of the transfer portal. The St. John’s transfer played significant minutes as a true freshman last season. Storr is the most athletic player on this roster and has a resemblance of Johnny Davis. Storr is able to attack the rim and finishes there as well. When Johnny Davis did this at Wisconsin, it opened up the offense and allowed players to get un-contested looks form the perimeter. This roster did not have that last season. As a result, Storr will play big minutes for Wisconsin Basketball.
We also can’t forget about Max Klesmit. Klesmit did everything for the Badgers last season and was the leader of this team. He isn’t great at one thing, but he’s good at a lot of things. He is an above average defender and can shoot the ball, although that’s not his first look. He does everything you ask him to do and then some.
Chucky Hepburn and Connor Essegian are guaranteed starters already. As a result, only one of these players can start. Right now, I lean towards Klesmit, but don’t be surprised if Storr potentially takes that spot later in the season. Either way, both these players will play at least 20 minutes a game.
How Deep Does the Wisconsin Basketball Rotation Go?
As mentioned earlier, Wisconsin Basketball returns just about their entire roster from last season. Only Jordan Davis, who was in the rotation last year, left.
Greg Gard has a decision to make. Does he include players like Isaac Lindsey, Markus Ilver, and Kamari McGee in the rotation or does he lean towards freshmen like Gus Yalden, Nolan Winter, and John Blackwell?
I think there are eight players that are guaranteed to be in the rotation. I think you have Hepburn, Essegian, Klesmit, Wahl, Crowl, Storr, Carter Gilmore, and Gus Yalden penciled in. There are cases for the remaining players, but does Gard go just eight deep or could he go as deep as 10? I see both as a possibility.
How Many Freshman Play Significant Minutes?
This is a good freshman class coming in for Wisconsin Basketball. Gus Yalden seems to be the most college ready right now. John Blackwell could be a multi-year starter and Nolan Winter could end up being the best player in this class by the time it’s all said and done.
We also can’t forget Jack Janicki. While he is a walk-on, he can shoot from anywhere in the gym. Don’t be surprised if he ends up on scholarship as early as next season.
Greg Gard is also not afraid to play freshman. He gave Chucky Hepburn the keys to the offense as a freshman and he started Connor Essegian in the middle of the season last year. No freshman will start this year but I think there’s a possibility three of the four play right away.
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