It is undeniable that Wisconsin, of all teams in the Big Ten, got hit the hardest with offseason losses. The Badgers lose 71% of their points, 65% of their rebounds, and 68% of their assists from last season. Five players departed after Wisconsin finished runner-up in the National Championship. Four of these players were seniors, and one left early for the NBA Draft. It is time to rebuild in Madison, and even though Bo Ryan has some solid returners to build the upcoming season on, there will be a lot of unfamiliar faces as well. Here are the biggest losses for the Badgers.
This one's obvious if you haven't figured it out by now. Wisconsin's center led the team in just about everything last season: points, rebounds, assists, blocks, minutes played, field goal percentage, and three point field goal percentage. And while he was busy filling his trophy case with just about every award there is to be won in college basketball, he took his team all the way to the National Championship before falling short to the Duke Blue Devils.
When looking beyond just the numbers, its evident that Kaminsky meant so much more to his team than just being the outstanding basketball player that he was at Wisconsin. Frank showed the world that you don't have to be a star in high school to become a dominant college basketball player. Kaminsky exploded his junior year and worked to get a little better each season under Bo Ryan. All around, there is no doubt that this guy will be missed.
Frank Kaminsky's partner in crime Sam Dekker is off to the NBA after three incredible seasons at Wisconsin. Dekker has continually proved himself to be one of the most dangerous players in college basketball. His elusiveness makes him a threat on offense and in transition, but he also has the body to work down low with any other big in the nation. Sam Dekker could get hot whenever his team needed him, and down the stretch in the big games, especially in the NCAA Tournament, he was the one making shots and propelling his team to victory.
Sam Dekker is one of those rare players that brings so much value to a team. A player that plays with so much skill and passion on both ends of the floor is difficult to replace, and for Bo Ryan, this isn't just a one man dilemma. Sam Dekker embodied what it means to be a Wisconsin Badger: he played with toughness, he didn't make mistakes, he utilized his teammates, and he did what he had to do to ensure his team would win the basketball game. Another stinger, Dekker will be missed greatly.
A good point guard is tough to replace, and in this case, Jackson will be tough to say goodbye to. Wisconsin's senior ran the point efficiently for the entirety of his career and worked very well in the system. Jackson shot the ball well from all over the floor and rarely turned it over to the other team. His unselfishness gave Wisconsin good looks from all over the floor; as an excellent shooter, passer, and defender, Jackson was a complete point guard for Wisconsin.
Luckily, the Badgers should be in very good hands with Bronson Koenig at the top of the key next season. While Jackson was sidelined with an injury for a solid portion of the 2014-15 season, Koenig filled the role very efficiently and boosted the Badgers to a very good position heading into March. When Jackson returned, Koenig still retained a good portion of the minutes, and with great experience and tons of skill, he should be a star next season.
Don't be surprised to see Bo Ryan's Badgers bounce back from a difficult offseason and compete in the Big Ten Conference. Ryan has never finished worse than fourth in the conference standings, and even though Wisconsin won't be the same team it was last season, don't expect Ryan to let the team slide and have an "off year."