Sitting at 15-10 and 7-8 in the Big Ten, Wisconsin currently sits on the NCAA Tournament bubble. At the beginning of the year, it was supposed to be the big three of Tyler Wahl, Chucky Hepburn, and Steven Crowl leading a young Badger team. Wahl has been a different player since returning from an ankle injury, while Hepburn and Crowl have not been consistent in Big Ten play. It’s freshman Connor Essegian that has been the most consistent player on this roster. He’s kept this team in it.
Connor Essegian: Wisconsin’s Most Consistent Player
Over the last 13 games, Connor Essegian has scored in double figures in 11 of them. It helps he’s a sharpshooter and the best shooter on this team. Big Ten teams have begun to circle him on the scouting report, and he’s adjusted really well to it. He did begin the year on the bench but replaced Jordan Davis pretty quickly.
With the up and down from Wisconsin’s big three, there has to be a player that can consistently be relied on to score. Essegian is that guy. When he gets the ball, you’re confident that he’s going to score. He has a quick release and can pour in buckets in a heartbeat. At some point, Chucky Hepburn, Tyler Wahl, and Steven Crowl have to pick it up consistently on the offensive side if this team wants to get in the NCAA Tournament. To this point, Essegian has kept their hopes alive.
Connor Essegian Works To Get Open
One part of Connor Essegian’s game I didn’t realize was his ability to move around and cut to the rim. For a freshman, he’s already elite doing that. Wisconsin’s offense is revolved around getting the ball into the post and moving from there. The Badgers are at their best when they do that, but a lot of times the offense becomes stagnant. As a result, it’s up to Tyler Wahl or Steven Crowl to make a move in the paint. It’s easy to defend it.
#Badgers took advantage of pretty suspect defense most of the night.
Michigan really struggled on off-ball screens.
No idea why you would go over this screen when the ball is in the post. pic.twitter.com/aRHEWI1Jwd
— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) February 15, 2023
If you watch Connor Essegian, he’s moving around a lot when the ball is in the post. It makes his defender and the post-defender have to respect him. It opens up an easier matchup in the post. Besides Essegian, Jordan Davis is the only Badger that does this. I wish Wisconsin would do this more.
He’s Learned On The Fly Fast
It’s hard to be a freshman and an NCAA athlete, both on the court and in the classroom. If you watch the Big Ten, it’s even harder to play and contribute as a freshman. Every night is a grind, and there’s never an off-night.
Yes, Connor Essegian has made freshman mistakes, and Greg Gard has taken him out of games for it. It’s OK. Sam Dekker had those problems, too, when Bo Ryan was the coach. It’s really hard to learn on the fly, but Essegian is not only doing it. He’s been depended on to score consistently at the same time. It’s a tough ask for a young player, but that’s just where Wisconsin’s offense has been all year.
I knew Connor Essegian would play. I didn’t think he would be one of the best players, at least this year. He’s gotten better, especially on the defensive end, as the year has gone along. He’s a gamer and determined to be the best player on the court. I think sooner rather than later, that could end up being the case.
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