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Film analysis: basketball commit Ben Carlson

What does the newest 2020 recruit bring to Greg Gard’s Badgers?


After coming home from watching Purdue get demolished in football by TCU, Ben Carlson must have had his mind made up: he was going to Wisconsin. The 247 Composite 4-star forward, and No. 82 player in the nation, announced his college decision on Twitter Wednesday afternoon and he picked Madison as the place he wants to keep playing basketball. He is joining fellow Minnesotan Steven Crowl, who committed on Tuesday afternoon, giving the Badgers two recruits in their last two days.

Carlson is also rated as a 4-star prospect and the No. 89 player in the country on Rivals to go along with his No. 87 ranking overall on 247 Sports. Oh, he’s also a 4-star recruit, and No. 88 overall, on ESPN’s top-100 rankings.

He had offers from a large number of high-major schools, including Minnesota, Purdue, Xavier, Iowa State, Ohio State, Stanford, Iowa and Nebraska. He had taken visits to Xavier, Purdue and Minnesota already and will probably cancel his planned visits to Iowa State and Stanford now that he’s verbally committed to Wisconsin.

With his commitment, the Badgers and head coach Greg Gard now have the No. 4 class in the whole nation on 247Sports and the No. 7 class on Rivals. Now, this is still early in the process and a number of top recruits haven’t chosen schools yet and the average score for Wisconsin’s recruits is lower than most of the teams they’re ahead of...but still. It’s crazy to see the Badgers rated this highly in recruiting rankings ever and is something to celebrate.

Alright, let’s break down what Carlson can do on the court!


Standing at 6-foot-9 and weighing around 210 lbs., Carlson has a frame that can add a little bulk once he gets in a college weightlifting program, but he already weighs as much as presumed center Crowl.

His height is also a plus because he has the ball handling and driving ability of a smaller player, so taking smaller dudes off the dribble and into the paint will put him at an advantage.

As mentioned by Matt yesterday in his analysis of Crowl’s game, it is hard to project a high schooler’s physical growth, but if Carlson adds a little bit of weight without sacrificing his athleticism, he’ll be a load to handle barreling down the lane as well as a stout defender.

Skill set

You can see it in the title of his junior year mixtape above. Carlson is “versatile.” He definitely has the ability to finish strong at the rim and battle through contact for dunks and layups. There were also a handful of jump shots mixed in, although it didn’t look like that was a huge part of his game.

Carlson is also broad. He just looked bigger and wider (in a good way!) than all of the kids he was playing against. That will serve him well in the traditionally rough and tumble B1G where having someone to protect the rim is always important. Carlson blocked a bunch of shots in that mixtape and also seemed to have good instincts on when to leave his man to contest someone else’s man’s shot.

We all know that the easiest way to make it onto the floor as a young Badger is to play good, solid defense and that should be Carlson’s calling card early in his career.

The fit

On Tuesday, we saw the Badgers get a verbal commitment from Steven Crowl who is in the mold of a Frank Kaminsky or Jon Leuer. Crowl can drift outside and shoot it, in other words. Carlson appears to be more like a shorter Ethan Happ or Greg Stiemsma in that he is going to immediately get rebounds and play defense.

Carlson, however, is probably more offensively advanced than Happ or Stiemsma were when they were seniors in high school. Carlson and Crowl, who play on the same grassroots team, D1 Minnesota, already have a developed chemistry that will be invaluable when playing together for the Badgers.

According to, a local paper in Red Wing, Minn., here are some of Carlson’s stats from his junior season:

The senior forward averaged 16.3 points per game with 10.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game to help the East Ridge boys’ basketball team win their first ever section title in program history and earn a fourth-place standing in the Class AAAA state tournament.

Carlson is a big time prospect and a big time recruiting win for Greg Gard and Joe Krabbenhoft (who has been a monster on the recruiting trail). He should be the final piece of the 2020 class, barring something unforeseen, and he will also be the seventh Minnesotan on the roster when he gets to campus. Joining him across the river will be Crowl, Tyler Wahl, Joe Hedstrom, Nate Reuvers, Walt McGrory and Brad Davison.

We will be keeping track of all of the 2020 commits throughout their senior seasons right here at Bucky’s 5th Quarter.

Also, you really hate to see it...if you’re Minnesota.