Micah Potter has been phenomenal as a Badger. However, Potter’s success at Wisconsin has not come without struggles. Leaving Ohio State to transfer to UW was painful. Not only was he leaving his home state school, but he also had to deal with confusing and inconsistent NCAA eligibility issues. These issues resulted in him not playing in a basketball game for 644 days.
When Potter was finally eligible to play during the middle of last season, his impact was immediate and undeniable. He helped a struggling Badgers team find life again, and played a key part in their quest for winning a BIG 10 regular season title. Without Potter, it’s hard to see Wisconsin making such a massive late season resurgence.
Potter’s Impact This Year
This season, Potter has been just as good, if not better. While fellow big man Nate Ruevers has struggled a bit, Potter has picked up the slack. He provides the Badgers with much needed versatility. Potter is the team’s second leading scorer (12.7 PPG), and can score both in the post and outside the three point line. He’s shooting over 51% from the floor, and over 40% from beyond the arch. In addition, he’s Wisconsin’s leading rebounder (6.8 per game) and has great court vision. His energy, leadership, and experience shouldn’t be overlooked, either.
It’s no secret that the Badgers have a lot of weapons; that’s one of their biggest strengths this year. Without Potter, they might still be consistently ranked in the top 25. However, the big man seems to be one of the biggest x-factors for the team. If Potter plays well, the Badgers do well. In their recent game at Maryland, Potter paced Wisconsin with 23 points and 12 rebounds in only 23 minutes. He made 4 of 6 three pointers, had 3 and-1 opportunities, and played solid defense. The Badgers very well could have found themselves in a much different situation without Potter, and the same can be said for many games this season.
Contrarily, if Potter plays poorly, his other teammates have a lot of slack to pick up. Unfortunately, sometimes it appears to be too much. In their most recent game at Penn State, arguably his worst outing all season, Potter was shut down. When he wasn’t sitting on the bench in foul trouble, the Nittany Lions did everything they could to double Potter in the post and disrupt his rhythm, and it worked. This game might be the best measuring stick as to how the Badgers would look without Potter, as he only played 15 minutes, and contributed six points and two rebounds. The result of the game, against an inferior opponent, was not pretty, to say the least.
During his tenure, Coach Gard has not been aggressive recruiting transfer players to come to UW. He has consistently chosen to stick to developing players that started off in his program, rather than taking in others. However, Potter’s success might encourage the coaching staff to reconsider their ways. They may look more actively into bringing in players that are looking for a fresh start. If they turn out like Potter, they won’t be disappointed.
A team without Potter is something Badger fans should be thankful isn’t a reality. We will never know what the Badgers would have accomplished if Potter had stayed at Ohio State or chosen to attend a different school. However, it’s safe to say that the Badgers would be a very different team without Micah Potter. It’s very likely that they would boast one less BIG 10 title, in addition to not being in the running for one again this year. That’s a pretty big impact for one player to have, but he’s that type of player for this program.
Potter’s journey hasn’t been easy, but the struggles have made his success that much sweeter. “Ultimately, making that decision [to leave Ohio State] and coming to Wisconsin made me realize that Wisconsin was my true dream school,” he said. Hopefully, more wins, championships, and titles are in Potter and his team’s future. While we don’t know what will ultimately come of this season, one thing is for certain: Micah Potter will play a key role if these things are to happen!