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Who Will Step Up for Wisconsin Basketball Next Season?

Taking a look at who might help the Badgers offensively in 2018-19

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Northwestern Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

This season the Badgers have an important scoring role up for grabs that could determine whether they return to the NCAA Tournament.

Ethan Happ and Brad Davison should be the team’s 1-2 scoring punch, but an effective third scorer is still wide open for the taking.

Feel free to insert a joke about Wisconsin’s ability to score here, but some of their most successful teams had multiple options to rely upon in their swing option offense. For Wisconsin to take another step up this season, it is going to need a third scorer in the flow of the offense, and/or when the shot clock runs low and they need to create. Let’s take a look at some of the most likely candidates from this year’s roster.

Brevin Pritzl

The redshirt junior sharpshooter reached the bottom last season during a two-game stretch in early February where he missed 13 consecutive shots from the field over a two-game stretch and only played six minutes in a loss to Maryland. The player Nigel Hayes once called “the best shooter in the country.” seemed to have lost all confidence in his shot and abilities.

Pritzl recovered and offered a glimpse of what could come in 2018-19. Over his next seven games, Pritzl averaged 11.1 points per game and shot a combined 19-35 from three-point range. Wisconsin was 5-2 over that span with a victory over no. 6 Purdue.

That is the version of Pritzl who could become a reliable third scoring option for the Badgers this upcoming season. Pairing him on the same side of the floor with Happ could be a spacing nightmare for opposing defenses, but Pritzl has to convince opponents that he is a knockdown consistent shooter. His sophomore season produced a 35.6 three-point percentage on 149 attempts, which is encouraging, but in 16 of Wisconsin’s games last season he shot 25% or worse from beyond the arc. He has to get more consistent and move away from the sporadic hot shooting night.

Check out some of Pritzl’s highlights from his first two years in Madison below.

D’Mitrik Trice

The highest upside of the players on this list might belong to Trice. The 6-foot guard averaged 9.4 points per game last season before a foot injury sidelined him for the year after 10 games.

Trice excels in beating people off the dribble and using pick’n’rolls to do damage with his mid-range game. Trice has proven he can shoot too. He shot 41% from three-point range as a freshman, but that number dipped to 30% during his sophomore year on 40 attempts. If he can regain that form this season, he could easily be averaging 12-13 points per game.

It will be interesting to see how Trice and Davison play together this season. Both like to have the ball in their hands, want to create, and are high volume shooters. Davison and Trice started together in only six games last season and the results weren’t great. They both played well together against no. 23 UCLA and UW-Milwaukee, but struggled with inefficiency against Virginia, Ohio State, Penn State, and Temple. Wisconsin was 2-4 over that span. Happ is going to need his touches as well.

Trice is an intriguing player and the best pure scorer on this list. Still, there are questions of health and fit heading into this season.

Nate Reuvers

If you believe Jon Rothstein, Reuvers is the answer to this question. The 6-foot-10 sophomore is out of central casting for the prototypical Wisconsin big man over the past 20 years.

The Minnesota-native had some moments last year including a 13-point performance against Maryland in 25 minutes, a 10-point performance against Rutgers, and double-figure scoring against Penn State and Ohio State.

Reuvers can seem to shoot it, so expect poor shooting numbers to rise this season. His value within the offense is that he would seem to play well off Happ, Davison, and Trice’s style of play. He can handle a double-team dump off from Happ, play pick-n-roll with Davison and Trice, and swing around the backside of a pick-n-roll for a spot-up three-pointer. Take a look at some of this action in the highlight video below.

The potential all seems to be there, there remains a question of whether it comes consistently to the surface this season. If it can happen, Wisconsin could have a pretty solid starting lineup, and another piece to take some pressure off Happ.