The Wisconsin men’s basketball team is taking a step toward adding a veteran presence to its inexperienced 2017-18 roster. The Badgers are hosting graduate transfer Casey Benson on campus on Wednesday.
Benson, a 6-foot-3 guard who has earned significant playing time at Oregon the past three years, would immediately bring an experienced hand to a Wisconsin backcourt that is undergoing a lot of change. Gone are two-year starters Bronson Koenig and Zak Showalter, as well as veteran bench contributor Jordan Hill, who decided to transfer and play at Seattle University next season.
Benson, who announced he would transfer on April 12, has been crucial to Oregon’s recent success. The Temple, Ariz. native averaged 4.9 points and 1.9 assists while playing 20.9 minutes per game off the bench as a junior last season.
Benson found the most success as a sophomore in 2015-’16, starting all 38 games and averaging 6.0 points, 3.1 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 28.7 minutes per game. Benson averaged 3.5 points and 2.0 assists per game for the Oregon team that had their season end with an NCAA Tournament loss to Wisconsin in 2015.
Benson brings a steady hand in the backcourt and a smooth stroke behind the 3-point line. He shot 40.5 percent (32-for-79) from behind the arc as a junior, while compiling a 2.15 assist-to-turnover ratio. Benson finished the 2015-16 season with a nation-leading assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.88-to-1.
Benson will also make visits to Butler and Grand Canyon this week, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein. Benson’s brother, T.J., is currently an assistant coach at Grand Canyon under Dan Majerle in Benson’s home state of Arizona.
Wisconsin has a couple of options if Benson decides to go elsewhere, but he would certainly garner significant playing time next season for a Badger team that is expected to be giving a bulk of the backcourt minutes to sophomores D’Mitrik Trice and Brevin Pritzl.
The duo had up-and-down freshman years this season. Trice played 18.3 minutes per game as a true freshman, averaging 5.6 points and 1.7 rebounds per game while looking like he can be a primary point guard in the future. The 6-foot-3 Pritzl never got his much-talked-about 3-point shot to fall and played just 8.1 minutes per game on the year.
Wisconsin is also high on incoming freshmen guards Brad Davison and Kobe King. Davison is a four-star prospect out of Maple Grove, Minn., while King is a three-star in-state recruit out of La Crosse, Wis. At 6-foot-3, both Davison and King have the ability to be play both guard positions in the future. Even if Benson commits, it’s likely that at least one of them will be asked to contribute immediately.
The addition of Benson would allow Greg Gard and the Wisconsin coaching staff to bring their crop of young guards along a little more slowly, which is how the Badgers traditionally like to operate.
Currently, Wisconsin has a scholarship to work with due to the transfer of Hill. It could also be used somewhere in the 2018 recruiting class, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Badgers to add a veteran like Benson to the fold for next season.