In the months leading up to the 2015-16 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.
Welcome back to the wild countdown of the best basketball players in the Big Ten, brought to you by the only people crazy enough to write about hoops during football season. Today, we're going to talk about Bronson Koenig, who epitomizes the Wisconsin point guard: boring, less than ideally athletic, but incredibly efficient. Koenig is a young man who won't attract a ton of national media attention at the start of the season, but if he plays well enough, Wisconsin could find itself in the title hunt again.
‘BTP 25'- #14 Bronson Koenig
- Eligibility: Junior
- Career Totals: 77 games, 1,724 minutes, 478 points, 116 rebounds, 139 assists
- 2014-15 Averages: 28.8 min, 8.7 pts, 1.8 rbs, 2.5 asts, 0.2 blks, 0.2 stls
- Positional Role: Point Guard
As a 3-star recruit according to ESPN out of La Crosse, Wisconsin, Koenig's combination of passing ability, shooting, and size got him attention from both Duke and North Carolina, but he ultimately decided to sign with Bo Ryan and Wisconsin as the second-highest rated player in their 2013 class. The top recruit in that class was none other than Nigel Hayes, who should be featured later on in this series.
Koenig played more than 15 minutes per game as a freshman while backing up the likes of Josh Gasser, Ben Brust, and Traevon Jackson. That's not a bad role for a kid on a team as talented as the 2013-14 Badgers, but last season Koenig really got his feet wet when Jackson was injured early in Big Ten season. An unfortunate situation for Wisconsin turned into a great opportunity for Koenig, who got to show what he can do in a starting role.
Thanks to the increased playing time in 2014-15, Koenig got to display his shooting ability and knocked down 41 percent of his 153 three-point attempts. On a team that was dominated by forwards like Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, Koenig didn't always have the shiniest point and assist figures, but he did go on a run of three straight games of double-figure scoring in the Big Ten Tournament. That streak ended with Koenig posting 18 points and nine assists in the thrilling Big Ten Tournament final versus Michigan State.
Areas for Improvement
For the Badgers to thrive in 2015-16, they must somehow make up for the losses of Kaminsky and Dekker to the professional ranks. How well they handle those departures will greatly depend on the play of Koenig, who is already a great shooter, but must improve other aspects of his game now that he and Hayes are the only experienced players on the roster. That means drawing more fouls (only 2.7 drawn per 40 minutes last year) and becoming a master distributor.
If Koenig can get into the paint more often, it will force opponents to back off his jumper a little bit and improve his scoring output. There will also be more assist opportunities due to the ball being in Koenig's hands more often and the team needing to rely more on passing now that Kaminsky isn't around to dominate one-on-one matchups. With Gasser and Jackson both graduating out of the backcourt, Koenig will be given every opportunity to become the floor general that the Badgers need. He has a chance to be a First Team all-conference player if he works on his penetration game and starts scoring and dishing inside the paint.
'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings
- Players That Just Missed The Cut
- #25 - Kendrick Nunn (Illinois)
- #24 - Bryant McIntosh (Northwestern)
- #22 (tie) Rasheed Sulaimon (Maryland)
- #22 (tie) - Thomas Bryant (Indiana)
- #21 - Rapheal Davis (Purdue)
- #20 - Derrick Walton Jr. (Michigan)
- #19 - Caleb Swanigan (Purdue)
- #18 - Shavon Shields (Nebraska)
- #17 - Eron Harris (Michigan State)
- #16 - Zak Irvin (Michigan)
- #15 - Jae'Sean Tate (Ohio State)
- #14 - Bronson Koenig (Wisconsin)
- #13 - To be continued...