In light of Josh Gasser's record-setting performance on Sunday against Northwestern, I thought it was a good time to examine how a couple of Wisconsin seniors stack up individually in Badger lore.
Personal records rightfully take a back seat to team success, but it is enjoyable to track progress towards career milestones. Wisconsin has had a lot of good players come through program over the last 15 years, meaning that any current Badgers who finish near the top of the charts deserve recognition.
This season, senior forwards Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil are coming down the home stretch with similar career production in a number of categories. Leuer has already climbed into Wisconsin's top ten with 81 career blocked shots, surpassing Badger legend Michael Finley (78). Nankivil is not too far behind with 65 career swats and is well on his way to posting one of the highest single-season block totals in program history. He has 30 blocks so far this year.
Wisconsin's All-Time Career Blocked Shot Leaders
Official Wisconsin Record Book [pdf]
Both Leuer and Nankivil also possess a great deal of versatility in their games, as evidenced by their high 3-point and overall shooting percentages. Not only can they muscle inside for easy hoops and put backs, but they can also pull you outside and stroke threes. If Nankivil keeps gunning at his current level (54.1 FG%, 49.1 3P%), he will place among the top ten Badgers all-time in both categories. The same goes for Leuer's current 3-point shooting (47.1%), although he will need to shoot better to stay in the top ten for overall field goal percentage.
Assuming another NCAA Tournament bid, Wisconsin has 13 guaranteed games remaining this season. Leuer has an outside shot at breaking into the top ten for all-time career scorers, which is remarkable for a guy that missed nine games of his prime to injury as a junior last season. With nine more games at last season's 15.4 ppg, Leuer would be aiming for a projected total around 1,507 points, or approximately 8th all-time in Wisconsin history.
Though not the scorer that Leuer is, Nankivil has always made an impact on the offensive glass. The 6'8" Madison-native has a remote chance of cracking the all-time top ten in that area if he increases his current pace slightly. He has 37 offensive rebounds heading into the Penn State game and 147 for his career.
Nankivil's progress is impressive when you consider that his freshman season consisted of 46 minutes played scattered across 19 games. Nankivil recently admitted he a was "pretty naive" about the redshirting decision back then, believing he could come in and play right away:
"I didn't actively seek advice from the coaches. I just kind of made the decision thinking I'd be able to work my way into the lineup."
I would rather have a more comfortable Nankivil for another year than almost any recruit coming to Madison in the next couple of seasons. But considering that opening allowed Wisconsin to sign Jarrod Uthoff, it will be several years before fans can make an informed decision on which scenario ultimately would have been the best. That is why appreciating the Leuer-Nankivil duo for the remainder of the season is so important. You never know what will happen next.