With Virginia claiming the national championship on Monday with its overtime win over Texas Tech, the final chapter closes for college basketball’s 2018-19 season.
For the Wisconsin Badgers, big changes will be forthcoming with the losses of Ethan Happ and Khalil Iverson. Looking ahead to the future, B5Q writers asked ourselves, “Who should be the players to watch for the 2019-20 season?”
Six of us sat down to discuss and rank the returning/incoming 2019-20 players 1-15 based on our respective point of views. With that, B5Q will profile the top 5 Badgers we believe to watch for next season. In full transparency, the parameters for ranking the players—devised by one Drew Hamm—were as follows:
- Breakout candidates
- Happ replacement both offensively and defensively
- Bounce-back candidates
- Anyone who can make two free throws in a row
Maybe the last one was tongue-in-cheek, especially since Wisconsin as a team made 72.7% of its free throws if you take out Happ’s 75-of-161 (46.6%) from the line out of the equation.
That being said, No. 5 on our list is a familiar face and two-year starter in his first two seasons at Wisconsin. He will now be called upon for an even greater presence on the court and in a leadership position for the program in 2019-20.
- 34 games played, 34 games started
- 10.5 points per game (third on team), 3.3 rebounds per game (fourth on team), 1.8 assists per game (third on team), 1.1 steals per game (second on team)
- Shot 38.5 percent from the field overall, 34.9 percent from three-point range
- 80.9 percent free throw shooter
- Scored season-high 26 points in road loss to Western Kentucky on Dec. 29, 21 points in home win against Maryland on Feb. 1, and 19 points in road win at Xavier on Nov. 13.
Why B5Q ranked him at No. 5
For each player, the six writers who ranked the team came together in a roundtable format to discuss our picks and why each player will be depended upon next season. Below is our conversation, lightly edited for our readers.
Jake Kocorowski: Starting off with our top five Badgers to watch for the 2019-20 season is guard Brad Davison. He averaged 10.5 points per game, third on the team, but ended up shooting about 35 percent from the three-point range. Some of us writers placed him as low as seventh in our rankings, but Kevin, you placed him at No. 2, and Drew, you had him at No. 3. What makes him so impactful in your opinion?
Drew Hamm: Well first of all, he’s from one town over from where I live now. That’s very important. Secondly, he is an alternate ball handler to Trice, someone that can shoot threes and isn’t afraid to have the ball when the clock is winding down, and can get to the tin (sometimes). He needs to improve on all three of those things in his junior season, and that’s why I think he’s very important to next year’s Badgers team.
Kevin O’Connell: Davison is a prime candidate to bounce back next season after a rough last month of the season. I think he’s so important to the offense ... he’s a bit bigger than Trice and can really take guys off the dribble. If Brad can become a more consistent threat from three-point range, he could really shine next season.
Neal Olson: Davison is one of the few returning guys that does not shy away from the big shot. He has zero tentativeness or hesitation. That alone makes his impact on a game, and as Kevin says, if he can knock that down with consistency, look out.
Jake: Now Owen, Neal and I all placed Davison at No. 7, respectively, with those left off the cumulative list like Brevin Pritzl (No. 6) and Aleem Ford (No. 7) ranked higher on our individual respective rankings.
For me, I had Ford at No. 4 overall and Pritzl at No. 6 in mine. With the former, his presence as a big man will need to develop further with Happ now gone. Pritzl’s experience will be huge, and it will also be worth watching if he has found his role as that glue guy, or if it will expand next year.
Kevin: As the tournament loss to Oregon showed, the Badgers so desperately need a consistent, knock down shooter ... Pritzl has the ability to be that guy, it will be interesting to see if he can take that next step.
Jake: Neal, what stood out to you about the others that you rated higher as “Badgers to Watch” compared to him?
Neal: As far as impact, I think we know what we’re getting with Davison—all the leadership and unabashed charges taken. Ford and Pritzl in particular will be asked/needed to do a lot more next season in order for the team to be successful. Ford is the only returning player aside from Reuvers over 6’4 and will need to be more than spot up shooter. Defense and rebounding in the front court are huge unknowns with Iverson and Happ graduating.
Jake: I think Neal hits a key point here with Ford and also with Davison. Obviously, I feel Davison will need to continue his progression, and if he can take that next step offensively, it will be a huge asset.