Badger Bits: Can Jared Berggren Make an NBA Roster?

USA TODAY Sports

Berggren struggled at times during his senior season, especially with his outside shot. But does he have the ability to contribute at the next level?

Former Wisconsin center Jared Berggren is out in Virginia this weekend competing in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a postseason camp for the some of the top seniors in college basketball.

The "PIT" is actually the oldest amateur basketball tournament in the country, with its origin dating back to 1953.

Berggren follows in the footsteps of Brian Butch, Marcus Landry, Trevon Hughes and Jordan Taylor as the latest Badger to compete in the invitational.

Here's Berggren's outlook for the tournament, courtesy of uwbadgers.com:

"Playing at Portsmouth is a great opportunity for me to make good impression on scouts and general managers from across the professional basketball world," Berggren said. "There are a lot of guys have garnered positive recognition for playing well at Portsmouth, so I know performing to the best of my ability will bring me even closer to fulfilling my goal of one day making an NBA roster."

Berggren started and logged 27 minutes in his first game for Sales Systems, LTD. last night. He grabbed eight boards but scored only seven points on 2-of-5 shooting, including just 1-of-4 from 3-point range. The shooting woes from distance seem to have continued beyond his last days in a Wisconsin uniform.

Such struggles from the floor can't continue if Berggren really does want to achieve his dream of playing in the NBA. Either he's got to regain the form he once had on his outside jump shot, or he's simply got to stop shooting.

I think Berggren will certainly earn an invitation out to Las Vegas for the NBA Summer League this July, but the idea of him finding his way onto a roster when next season begins is a little ambitious. However, that doesn't mean he can't be a serviceable backup center in three or four years.

Look at Greg Stiemsma -- he gets 15 to 20 minutes of clock a night for the Minnesota Timberwolves and most of us would agree that Berggren is far more talented at this point in his career than Stiemsma was when he graduated. Stiemsma averaged just 3.5 points per game his senior year, but he's found a niche role in the NBA as a quality defender and rebounder.

That inevitably is the role that Berggren will have to adopt if he wants a similar opportunity at the next level. He doesn't have the offensive skills to ever be a major contributor, but as the most prolific shot-blocker in Wisconsin history (144 blocks for his career), he has the defensive capabilities to make him some good money through the years. Once he accepts and fully commits to rebounding and growing into a more physical and stronger low-post banger, he'll get his shot.

The opinions about Berggren's NBA prospects vary, and a lot of those scouts that aren't so high on him question his attitude. It isn't that they don't think he's a nice guy and quality individual, it's that they think he might be too nice. To play with the best athletes in the world, you better find a way to play angry.

Once Berggren adopts that mentality -- and I'd be shocked if he doesn't -- he's got the athleticism to challenge for minutes in the NBA at some point down the road.

LINKS:

Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal talks about the entertainment being employed by Gary Anderson and other Big Ten coaches this spring.

Men's hockey coach Mike Eaves was surprised by Brendan Woods' decision to sign with the Carolina Hurricanes.

I know the season is officially over, but Seth Davis offers up his Top 25 to begin next season in college basketball. He's got the Badgers at No. 17.

Since it's "a tradition unlike any other" this weekend, here's a Masters round one breakdown. Wisconsin native Steve Stricker opened with a 73 yesterday.

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