One thing I find difficult to do sometimes as a college sports fan is live entirely in the present. Recruiting is a year round process and worrying about who will replace your stud senior point guard or prized underclassman wing who is thinking about declaring for the draft can become an all-consuming black hole, from which you may never return!
However, not looking to the future is foolish (and honestly looking ahead while making wild projections is half the fun) and is something any involved sports fan will do. Over the coming weeks, we here at BTPowerhouse will be previewing the scholarship charts for every B1G team, even Rutgers!
First up we're going to take a look at the Wisconsin Badgers. They are widely considered to be the favorites in the B1G next year, and many predict a preseason national top-5 ranking. Let's dive into the roster and see if they are built to last or are simply a (hopefully) two year wonder.
|Ethan Happ||Freshman||Forward||6-8||200||Taylor Ridge, IL|
|Riley Dearring||RS Freshman||Guard||6-5||180||Minnetonka, MN|
|Matt Ferris||Freshman||Guard||6-5||190||Appleton, WI|
|T.J. Schlundt||Freshman||Guard||6-5||200||Oconomowoc, WI|
|Aaron Moesch||RS Freshman||Forward||6-8||200||Green Bay, WI|
The Badgers are a veteran laden team and none of these guys figures to play a significant role this season. The incoming freshman class includes three players, but only one of them are on scholarship currently. Ethan Happ is a prototypical Bo Ryan player, a lengthy forward who can extend the defense with his ability to hit from three. Given Ryan's recent predilection to play freshman, Happ probably would have gotten some run in any other year, but this season he will probably redshirt. Ferris and Schlundt are both walk-on, depth guys that will probably become fan favorites in five years due to their Wisconsin roots. Moesch is another walk-on, so he doesn't take up a scholarship either. Dearring is the only guy here who could play at all this season, but again, it will probably only be during blowouts or if multiple guards ate the entire 18-Wheeler Deal at the dining hall (do they still have that? I'm old) and can't move due to consuming 18 "chicken" "rings" in one sitting. He was a Mr. Basketball finalist in Minnesota his senior season and averaged nearly 20 points per game, so the talent is there. However, looking ahead to just 2015-16, both Dearring and Happ will be counted on to be major contributors. Any game experience that Dearring (or Happ if he's not redshirted) can get this year will be huge in their future development, as well as the team's future development. On a strictly recruiting basis, having players from Minnesota and Illinois do well for Wisconsin is huge, because there is a wealth of talent in the Twin Cities and Chicagoland areas and it is vital that the Badgers establish relationships there.
|Jordan Hill||Sophomore||Guard||6-3||170||Pasadena, CA|
|Vitto Brown||Sophomore||Forward||6-8||237||Bowling Green, OH|
|Nigel Hayes||Sophomore||Forward||6-7||250||Toledo, OH|
|Bronson Koenig||Sophomore||Guard||6-3||190||La Crosse, WI|
|Zak Showalter||RS Sophomore||Guard||6-2||192||Germantown, WI|
Showalter is yet another walk-on, but he is one with experience. He played his freshman season and was a valuable "energy guy" off the bench for the Badgers. He redshirted last year due to the return of Josh Gasser and the expected stellar play of Koenig, and he could also earn a scholarship this year due to the transfer of George Marshall last year. Hill and Brown were both end of the bench guys for the Badgers last year, only playing major minutes at the end of blowouts or if there was major foul trouble for the starters. Brown will be counted on to be the second forward off the bench this season and will probably have to spell Hayes, and even Frank Kaminsky against smaller teams, on a nightly basis. Despite his walk-on status, I'd expect to see Showalter off the bench before Hill this year, but in the coming years I fully expect Hill to take on a much more prominent role. Nigel Hayes, reigning B1G sixth man of the year and All-B1G freshmen team member, is tentatively slotted to start next to Kaminsky this year, and should be draining mid-range jumpers with regularity for the next two (hopefully three) seasons. Koenig will be the first guard off the bench and is the unquestioned point guard of the future after Traevon Jackson graduates this year. He already showed some flashes of what he can do, manning the point for half of the Final Four loss against Kentucky and scoring 11 points with one assist and one steal. Hayes and Koenig are the two main building blocks for the Badgers going forward, and depending on how the 2015 recruiting class goes (more on this later), and should be starters for the next two to three years.
|Sam Dekker||Junior||Forward||6-7||220||Sheboygan, WI|
|Jordan Smith||RS Junior||Guard||6-1||180||Orono, MN|
Smith is one of the long line of walk-on guards the Badgers have assembled and redshirted last season due to the logjam Wisconsin was experiencing at guard. He is the 12th leading scorer in Minnesota boys high school basketball history, but probably won't find a role with this year's team. The following season he could be a valuable "instant offense" guy as he can bomb it from deep. One of the most hyped players (five star prospect, top-20 in the country) in the history of Wisconsin high school basketball, Sam Dekker chose to stay and play for the home team. He has played significant minutes in both of his campaigns with Wisconsin, and is undeniably the most talented player on the roster. Now, I have a quibble with the measurements I took from the official Wisconsin basketball website. DraftExpress reports that Dekker clocked in at 6-9 (!!!) 229 pounds at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy this summer. Those two inches are a game-changer (mind out of the gutter for one minute, fellas) for a guy with Dekker's skillset. He will now be more formidable on the glass and tougher to guard on the perimeter. Despite the presence of Kaminsky, Dekker will be the most important player for Wisconsin this year and if he can take his game to the next level? Watch out, rest of the country. Dekker is a guy who has been on scouts' radars since he was in high school, so if he has a monster season it is unlikely he will return for his senior year. That will create a major talent void for the Badgers and will leave them with no senior leadership outside of Smith.
|Traevon Jackson||Senior||G||6-2||208||Westerville, OH|
|Frank Kaminsky||Senior||C||7-0||234||Lisle, IL|
|Josh Gasser||RS Senior||G||6-3||190||Port Washington, WI|
|Duje Dukan||RS Senior||F||6-9||220||Deerfield, IL|
Having a group of four seniors, especially a group as talented as this, with this much experience is rare in modern day college basketball. Jackson, for all his faults, is a rock at point guard. Every year he's started to make better decisions with the ball and he's fearless when the clock is winding down. Gasser is a defensive stalwart and cold-blooded shooter from three. Dukan is the first guy off the bench and can grab rebounds and stroke it from deep. Kaminsky was a revelation last year as an all over the court domination machine. He blocked shots, he grabbed rebounds, he made threes, he dunked on your whole family, it was really a tour de force. There are few teams that will have an answer for Frank the Tank this year, and he is one of the main reasons the Badgers are so highly regarded heading into the season. However, all of these guys are graduating after this year and will be leaving a gaping maw at the top of the depth chart. This is where the rest of that future talk will come in handy.
So far, the Badgers have one commit for their 2015 class: 6-3 four-star shooting guard Brevin Pritzl out of De Pere, WI is the lone man in the class. He has impressed scouts over the summer and continues to move up many scouting websites' rankings. He is the kind of offensive threat that can make up (and then some) for the loss of Gasser and Jackson. He'll just need to refine his defense and ball skills in order to truly fill their sneakers. The big, pun intended, question mark for Badger fans is: who will replace Kaminsky? Luckily there are a couple of answers within state borders, but unluckily both Diamond Stone (Milwaukee) and Henry Ellenson (Rice Lake) are so good that they are being nationally recruited by the likes of Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, and other schools that need to STAY OUT OF WISCONSIN! Both are generational talents and are ranked in the 247 Composite top-10. The Badgers are also heavily in on Massachusetts PF, Josh Sharma, who is no slouch himself, garnering a four-star rating. Minneapolis point guard, Jarvis Johnson is another player that Bo Ryan is watching closely, and would be used to eventually replace Koenig as the point guard of the future. The Badgers have four more scholarships (and potentially five if Dekker goes pro) to work with for 2015/16, so look for Ryan to be unusually active on the recruiting trail this fall.
There you have it, a not so quick breakdown of the Badgers roster and what it will look like this year and beyond. What do you guys think the Badgers should do in the future? Here is a link to Bucky's 5th Quarter's scholarship chart so you can see how the scholarships will shake out in the coming years. Let us know in the comments.