Badger Bits: How Long Will Sam Dekker Play for Wisconsin?

Jonathan Daniel

Sam Dekker has an NBA skill set on the offensive end. Will he stick around Madison for his entire four years with UW?

Like my B5Q colleagues, I too have reservations about continuing the UW basketball conversation given that the season is officially over. But the Big Dance isn't quite finished, so that gives me some justification for posing this question to all you Badger fans.

How long will we get to see Sam Dekker in the cardinal and white?

This may seem like an odd question to many of you, but I think it deserves some discussion.

In Dekker, I see a kid who could experience a meteoric rise up draft boards next season. If he continues to progress this offseason and build off how he ended the year, he will be the Badgers' bona fide star and go-to scorer in the 2013-14 campaign.

He finished the season by tallying double-figures in nine of his last 12 games, and overall his scoring average for the season ended at 9.6 points per game. Not too shabby for the heralded freshman. Sure, at times, I think he settled for outside shots when he could have attacked the rim, but that was more a product of him sticking to the role Bo Ryan had set out for him.

While Ryan is one of the most impressive coaches in the country at getting maximum production out of a limited talent pool, he's also incredibly stubborn. At the beginning of the year, he was in Dekker's head -- the freshman had no confidence, and he was thinking his way through games rather than just playing.

Next year, the reins will be off entirely. He and Ben Brust are the only two returning players on the roster who have proven they can be reliable offensively on a consistent basis. Couple that with the fact that the frontcourt production from next year's team will be minimal at best, and to me, that signals a system where Dekker has the freedom to shoot just about any time he sees fit.

I'm sure many of you have heard this comparison, but I'll offer it again: Dekker has a ton of Gordon Heyward in his game. Both are underappreciated athletically and dead-eye shooters from 3-point range. Both have a diversified offensive skill set and a knack for putting the ball through the hoop.

Look at the numbers Heyward put up his sophomore year at Butler: 15.5 points per game on 46.4 percent shooting. His 3-point shooting dipped to 29.4 percent that year from 44.8 percent the year before, but his rebounding was impressive, averaging 8.2 boards a night.

I would take a gander and say Dekker's numbers will lie at this level and maybe better next season. The rebounding statistic won't be as impressive, but don't be surprised if his shooting numbers are all higher than what Heyward put together his sophomore season.

If Dekker proves to be "the guy" next year and leads the Badgers to another top-four Big Ten finish and gets them to a Sweet 16, I think there is a legitimate possibility he enters the NBA Draft.

Are there many what-ifs for this to even become a reality? Yes, obviously. But I just have a hunch that if he can show NBA scouts all of the potential that made him the No. 17 recruit in the country coming into college, they will salivate over his skills.

Is it unlikely he leaves after next year? Absolutely. However, I'll put it this way -- I think there is a better chance he leaves after next season than staying all four years at Wisconsin. I'll give Dekker three years max in a Badger uniform. He's just too good, folks.

I thought Nathan's article yesterday looking ahead to the Badgers' starting five next year made some fantastic points and the comments that ensued brought about some interesting banter. Let's get that back-and-forth going again today.

It's feasible I'm dead wrong with this idea, but I wanted to ignite the debate. Have it everyone.

LINKS

Aaron Moesch, a 6-foot-8 forward from Green Bay Southwest, was officially announced as a Badgers walk-on next season.

The Wisconsin State Journal's Andy Baggot with a musical look at Wisconsin football under Gary Andersen.

Baggot also wrote a great profile on UW swimmer and NCAA backstroke champion Drew teDuits.

With the Final Four games tomorrow, here's an SI piece on Michigan coach John Beilein. I've never been too high on the guy, but he and the Wolverines are the last hope for a Big Ten national champion.

Tickets are available for Badgers season-ending reception on April 23 at the Kohl Center. Online ordering ends April 12.

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