Wisconsin basketball season will be underway in six days. When the season begins, Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard will return all five of his starters from last season’s squad. Among those returners is fifth-year forward Tyler Wahl.
Wisconsin Basketball Forward Tyler Wahl Ranked Sixth in Andy Katz’s Top 22
Wahl has been one of Wisconsin’s top contributors for multiple seasons. Simply put, the Badgers are a much better team with the Minnesota native on the floor than without him. In the previous two seasons, UW was winless in the four combined games that Wahl sat out with injury.
Andy Katz, college basketball analyst for the NCAA and Big Ten Network, ranked Wahl sixth in his “Katz 22” top players in the Big Ten Conference. In the announcement via the Big Ten Men’s Basketball account on the website formerly known as Twitter, Katz said:
He [Wahl] was hurt at times last season. When he was on the court – completely different team. When he’s healthy, and he is now, the Badgers have a great shot to not just be back in the NCAA Tournament but get a pretty decent seed. Tyler Wahl has become one of the tougher matchups in the Big Ten. He’s experienced. He can play all around the court. He can score in a variety of ways. Pretty good defender and passer – look for Tyler Wahl to have a banner season in Wisconsin.
— Big Ten Men's Basketball (@B1GMBBall) October 31, 2023
Wahl Is More Than a ”Pretty Good” Defender
Katz described Wahl as a “pretty good” defender, but that does not give the Lakeville North product nearly enough credit. Although he may not be an elite talent on the defensive end, he is one of the best defenders to play in Madison in recent years.
According to Sports Reference, Wahl’s 3.9 defensive box plus/minus is among the best marks by a Badger. The metric is used to estimate a player’s contributions to their team by comparing per-possession data when the player is on the court and off of it. While the data is only complete back to the 2010-11 season, Wahl ranks fifth among all Badgers for whom data is available.
A look into Wahl’s numbers inside the advanced stats is just as impressive. He is already ninth all-time in defensive rebound percentage among fellow Badgers and will likely finish his career top ten in offensive, defensive, and total rebounds. Additionally, his 2.4% of defensive possessions resulting in steals is the fourth-highest mark for a Wisconsin basketball player.
Two Other Wisconsin Badgers Named Top Players in Big Ten
Tyler Wahl is the third member of Gard’s team named to the Katz 22. Junior Chucky Hepburn checked in at #15, and sophomore Connor Essegian was ranked 16th. Both guards were named to the All-Big Ten Freshman teams following their respective freshman campaigns.