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Wisconsin basketball: Freshman Charlie Thomas impresses; Badgers open at No. 17 in coaches poll

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A true freshman could be in line for playing time, and the Badgers haven't forgotten last season's national championship game.

Wisconsin junior forward Vitto Brown.
Wisconsin junior forward Vitto Brown.
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Representatives for the Wisconsin Badgers basketball team traveled to Chicago for Big Ten Media Day Thursday to get the college basketball season underway with some fresh faces not seen much a year ago.

The Badgers lost 37.4 points, 16.3 rebounds and over 80 minutes per game of their frontcourt production from last season.

Rightfully so, junior forward Vitto Brown noted that the word for this Wisconsin team might be "opportunity." One player that may take advantage is true freshman forward Charlie Thomas.

Through the early stages of practice, Thomas' size, rebounding and ability to create offense in the post have stood out. His teammates are taking note.

"We've got a new freshman that nobody knows about, Charlie Thomas," Brown said. "250 (pounds), about my height, solid dude. He's got a nice touch around the rim."

A three-star recruit from Clarksville, Md., Thomas averaged 23.2 points and 11.2 rebounds per game in his senior year at River Hill High School.

"He's 6'9, 255 of pure muscle," junior guard Bronson Koenig said, "so he'll definitely be able to get down there and bang with some big guys in the Big Ten. He just needs to work a little bit defensively, as every freshman does when they come in. I'm sure he'll get there."

Natty on Replay

There was a time in history when Wisconsin played Duke in some game and there were lots of fans there.

Of course, it was last season's national championship game. Have some of the Badgers watched the game?

"Yeah, I have one time," Brown said. "Just seeing how they were able to have success on us and try to emulate that and put it into our game."

Brown wasn't the only Badger to watch the tape.

"I looked at the Duke game because I wanted to see if we were called for fouls, why were they fouls and can we be better next year at not committing those same fouls?" Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. "So I looked at the first half, I looked at the second half. I'm always critical of us first. So where can we get better?"

Apparently it was hard to watch the tape, too?

"It was tough, it was tough knowing that two or three plays we could've ended it in a different way, but it's also a motivation because we have unfinished business," Brown said. "Now we can rest on our goals and we might be able to make it back again."

Ryan also displayed promise for a possible post-coaching career: motivational speaker

"I don't get hung up on anything because there's no need," Ryan said. "What good does that do to what I need to have done?"

Badgers open season at No. 17

While Wisconsin spent Thursday in Chicago, the preseason coaches Top 25 poll ranked the Badgers at No. 17.

Coming off consecutive Final Four appearances, the Badgers return only 38 percent of their scoring from last season. Most comes from junior forward Nigel Hayes and Koenig, both of whom are preseason All-Big Ten selections.

Five Big Ten teams are ranked, with Maryland coming in on top at No. 3. The Badgers have been ranked in the preseason poll in each of the last four seasons and in six of the last nine.