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Wisconsin Basketball: How Will Zak Showalter Fit the Badger Equation?

Zak Showalter, though only playing 7 minutes per game last season, is ready to explode for the Wisconsin Badgers next season, given the fact that he'll likely have a lot more playing time under Bo Ryan.

Zak Showalter after a three point basket in the NCAA Tournament
Zak Showalter after a three point basket in the NCAA Tournament
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin's redshirt junior Zak Showalter will likely start the 2015-16 campaign with more of a defined role for the Badgers. Averaging 7.6 minutes per game off the bench, Showalter didn't see a lot of court time for the Wisconsin Badgers during his sophomore season. That being said, there weren't a lot of minutes to go around at the guard position, as Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson, and Bronson Koenig saw the most court time under Bo Ryan last season. Zak Showalter put up 2.1 points per game during the 2014-15 campaign, and even though he wasn't a huge piece to the Badgers' success last season, he shows loads of promise for his last two in Madison.

Zak Showalter, though limited in minutes last season, embodied the core principles of Bo Ryan's Wisconsin Basketball. The sophomore shot the ball at an incredible 89% from the charity stripe (24-27), and even though he didn't attempt too many free ones, the efficiency from the line is promising given the likelihood that Showalter will see more playing time next season and subsequently, more trips to the stripe. Though once again, limited in minutes, Showalter only turned the ball over 5 times all season. In 266 total minutes played, 5 giveaways isn't half bad, and if Showalter can continue to protect the ball, he'll develop into a top-tier player in the Big Ten.

There is always room for improvement, even with the best college basketball players across the country. Showalter only shot 14% from three-point range, so shooting from behind the arc will certainly be something he needs to work on this offseason. If Showalter looks to fill a prominent role in the Wisconsin Badger lineup, then he will need to be sharp defensively. You can never play too good of defense under Bo Ryan, and in a difficult league like the Big Ten, playing tough on both ends of the floor is pivotal.

With the departure of starting guards Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser, there may just be a spot in the starting lineup for the up and coming guard Zak Showalter. Showalter had some big plays last season, and it seems that when the Badgers were falling in a slump, he would come into the game and score a huge basket. This season could be a huge transition year for the rising junior. Just as Malcolm Hill of Illinois went from 4 points per game his freshman season to 14 points per game his sophomore season with more playing time, Showalter could explode, given the right opportunities. Zak Showalter may be one of the most athletic players on the Wisconsin Badgers lineup as well. Just check out this dunk he had during back in high school. If you don't think he could make a huge impact next season, he's out there to prove you wrong.