As the Wisconsin Badgers leave for France next week, it will be interesting to see who replaces Johnny Davis and Brad Davison in the starting lineup. The Badgers will have the chance to see multiple lineups and figure out which groups work best together. They did add two players from the transfer portal and I believe both will have impacts right away. Here’s my starting lineup as of today.
Point Guard- Chucky Hepburn
This is obvious and Hepburn could be the scoring option for Wisconsin this year. As a freshman in 2021, he was given the keys to the car by Greg Gard and he showed why he was worth it. We saw some freshman glimpses from Hepburn, but he played more mature than a freshman would in college basketball.
By the end of the year, Hepburn became the third scoring option behind Johnny Davis and Brad Davison. He also made one of the biggest shots in Wisconsin history to win the Big Ten regular season title. Hepburn is a leader on this team and will be asked to do a lot.
Shooting Guard- Max Klesmit
Klesmit is a Wofford transfer and a Neenah, WI native. While he has not played for the Badgers yet, I think this is a pretty safe bet that Klesmit starts the year as the two. He has the experience and has the ability to shoot the three and keep defenses honest.
How quickly Klesmit adjusts to the Big Ten and Power 5 play will be the key. Wofford is a mid-major program but did play power 5 conferences in non-conference play. Overall, I thought getting Klesmit was really important and it’s cool to see a Wisconsin native come home.
Small Forward- Jordan Davis
This could be the biggest question going into this season. Will it be Jordan Davis or Jakobi Neath? Both had a chance in the NCAA tournament against Iowa State after Hepburn went down with a nasty ankle injury.
Neath got the first crack, but was careless with the ball. Jordan Davis played a majority of the rest of the game. It’s worth noting Neath was never 100% last season, batting multiple injuries.
Neath and Davis are both above average defenders so that is never in question. Whoever can be the more consistent offensive player wins this job in my opinion. At the end, I think Jordan Davis is a better shooter and can be a three and D player. Right now, I think he’s the favorite.
Power Forward- Tyler Wahl
I won’t spend much time on this. Bottom line is Wahl is one of the best forwards in the Big Ten coming into this year. He’ll be asked to be the first or second scoring option and I believe his senior year will be his best one yet. He’s a solid defender and has become a valid scoring threat. He can improve on his three point shot, but he makes up for it by doing so many other things really well.
Center- Steven Crowl
I think Crowl has the best chance to break out this year. It was a tough ask for him to start immediately last year after playing very little as a freshman. For little experience, I thought he showed glimpses of being a really good stretch center in the Big Ten. Strength could be a question this year, but Crowl’s work around the rim was really impressive for a young player.
A year of experience will only help Crowl and will continue to help him. Wisconsin is in good hands for the next few years at the center position.
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