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Wisconsin basketball: 2019-20 bigs preview

There is not a lot of depth, but the tallest Badgers still have a few interesting pieces to work with.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Bigs

Position group members:

  • Micah Potter, redshirt junior, power forward, transferred from Ohio State, sat out last season, 4.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg in 2017-18 with OSU
  • Nate Reuvers, junior, power forward, 7.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.8 bpg last year
  • Joe Hedstrom, redshirt freshman, center, redshirted last season, from Hopkins, Minn.
  • Owen Hamilton, redshirt sophomore, center, transferred from Northern Illinois, sat out last season, 1.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg in 2017-18 with NIU

Projected bigs depth

Rotation Spot Power Forward Center
Rotation Spot Power Forward Center
Starter Micah Potter Nate Reuvers
Backup Aleem Ford (??) Owen Hamilton
Depth Tyler Wahl (??) Joe Hedstrom

Breakout candidate: Once Potter is eligible to come back and play he should have a breakout performance. He is a career 32.4% three point shooter, on only 71 career attempts though (for comparison, Reuvers took 84 last year alone), and a 69.2% career free throw shooter (but improved from 60% his freshman year to 80% his sophomore year) which should mean that he thrives in a Badgers offense that prizes stretch fours.

Also, Potter is going to be PISSED that he missed the first part of the season because the NCAA can’t stop tripping over their own dicks and is going to come out with a chip on his shoulder. He and Reuvers can hopefully form a nice, long, interchangeable set of bigs that the Badgers can rely on to get them back to the NCAA Tournament.

Key player: Reuvers is by, both skill and default, the key player for the Badgers in the front court. He is going to have to play an absurd amount of minutes, especially during the beginning of the season with Potter sidelined because the NCAA is stupid, and he’s going to have to stay out of foul trouble too.

He brings an enticing skill set to the table with his ability to protect the rim (60 blocks last year, which is the fifth most in program history) AND step outside and shoot the three (38.1% last season). Most of Reuvers’ best stretches of playing last year came with Ethan Happ on the bench, so it is logical (hopeful?) to assume that he’ll be playing at a higher level with Happ graduated. Right?

Overview of position group: So, um, there are a LOT of question marks surrounding the very tall people on the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team. Reuvers is the only proven commodity of these four players and the second most proven commodity, Potter, isn’t even eligible until the second semester.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

There are going to be growing pains and a steep learning curve for players like Hedstrom and Hamilton who may be thrust into game action before they are ready. True freshman Tyler Wahl, who we will discuss on Friday, may also see some action at the power forward position early in the season. Aleem Ford, again, he’ll be discussed on Friday, could also get some minutes as a stretch four.

Hamilton, Hedstrom, Potter and Reuvers all have something you can’t teach...size. At 6-foot-10, Potter is the shortest of the bunch but height alone will not make you a serviceable B1G big man. Wisconsin is going to have to rely heavily on its guards and wings early in the season to provide offense and make sure teams aren’t able to double-team Reuvers in the post.