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Wisconsin basketball 2020-21 preview: potential rotation

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What might the playing rotation look like next season?

Dan Sanger

In a season marred with turmoil and adversity, the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team rose through and were able to claim their first Big Ten conference championship since 2015. The team was comprised of only eight scholarship players, including only one scholarship player in the regular rotation with senior eligibility in Brevin Pritzl.

After reviewing the accomplishments of the team in 2019-2020 over the past week or so, lets look ahead into the future at a glimpse of what the 2020-2021 might have in store.

In the second episode (first episode on continuity found here) in a series of 2020-2021 Wisconsin basketball outlook pieces, B5Q dives into what the playing rotation may look like next season.


Starters

  • Point guard: D’Mitrik Trice —> 6-foot, 184 pounds, redshirt senior

Trice had a really good junior season. While he did not fill up the stat sheet scoring wise every game, he was a consummate point guard, and distributed the ball extremely well during the second half of the season.

  • Shooting guard: Brad Davison —> 6-foot-4, 206 pounds, senior

Brad Davison has been considered the “heart beat” of the team on multiple occasions by Greg Gard. He played much improved later in the season, and will undoubtedly be one of the five starters.

  • Wing (guard/forward): Aleem Ford —> 6-foot-8, 217 pounds, redshirt senior

Ford is a player that improved the most from 2018. He was a much more consistent shooter, and was also better in the rebounding department. He is more of a stretch four, but he has done a better job of creating off the dribble, and has jumped up defensively. Entering his senior season, I expect him to be on the starting line.

  • Power forward: Micah Potter —> 6-foot-10, 248 pounds, redshirt senior

This is where things get interesting. I could easily see the Badgers opt to insert Tyler Wahl into the starting lineup at the three, and bump Ford down, just as the team did versus Michigan State, but for now I think Potter should be the guy. Potter has officially knocked off the rust after sitting out for over a year and half, and was one of the teams best scoring options all season long. With an influx of two younger forwards that could see time behind him and Reuvers, I think there is less worry about having Potter play more minutes next season.

  • Center: Nate Reuvers —> 6-foot-11, 235 pounds, senior

Nate Reuvers will once again be a starter. Reuvers led the team in scoring last season, and also grabbed the most rebounds on the team. He is isn’t going anywhere, and I would expect his play to continue to improve.

First off the bench

  • Tyler Wahl —> 6-foot-7, 214 pounds, sophomore

Going into his true sophomore season, Wahl should surprise folks with his development. A fan favorite because of his hustle and grittiness, he could really spark this team if he improves his strength and shooting ability. Wahl will be one of the first players off the bench given his positional versatility, and he could very easily start if Greg Gard doesn’t fully trust the young forwards behind Reuvers and Potter at the start of the season.

  • Trevor Anderson —> 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, redshirt senior

After a knee injury in 2018, Anderson was a big help to the team last season in the rotation behind D’Mitrik Trice. With so few scholarship guards on the roster last year, he averaged just over 12 minutes per game as the eighth man. I expect that role to continue, but he will be pushed by some young players that Greg Gard will need see time before the mass senior exodus at seasons end.

Freshman who will likely play

The winner of Mr. Basketball in the state of Wisconsin, Johnny Davis will bring some athleticism and dynamic play-making ability to the roster. With Brevin Pritzl gone, Davis is the most likely guard candidate to jump into the rotation right away from high school. A smooth athlete who can be a lockdown defender, and can slash to the basket, he will fit right in, and should see immediate playing time off the bench. It would not be surprising to see Davis steal some starts against teams with three quicker guards in the starting lineup.

Ben Carlson is the highest ranked incoming recruit, and his strong inside/outside scoring capabilities speak for themselves. Carlson is the most likely forward to see the floor as a freshman because of his advanced offensive skillset and his ability to move well for his size. The Badgers will need one of the freshmen forwards to step up and join the rotation, even if it is only a few minutes a game to spell Reuvers or Potter. If Carlson adds some weight this off-season and shows the coaching staff early on that he can hold his own in the Big Ten, he will play, and it would allow Potter and Reuvers to see the court together more often.

Keep an eye on

  • Lorne Bowman —> 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, point guard, freshman

While Bowman is a player that the team likely does not need to play extensive minutes as a freshman, he will likely be the starting point guard in 2021-2022 after D’Mitrik Trice and Trevor Anderson graduate, so it may be a good idea to let him see the floor in some capacity as a freshman. The point-guard position is so important, so getting his feet wet for the rigors of major college basketball couldn’t hurt. Scholarship wise the team might want to distance him from 2021 PG recruit Chucky Hepburn as well, so don’t be surprised to see him play, even if it is done in spot situations.

  • Joe Hedstrom —> 7-foot, 240 pounds, center, redshirt sophomore

Coming off of a knee injury, Joe Hedstrom may be slowly worked back into playing shape. A big body that can bang inside, he could provide added depth if foul trouble really hits the front court hard. Hedstrom is still improving in terms of his skill level and footwork, but he is a player that could provide a minute or two in a pinch.

Redshirt candidates

  • Steven Crowl —> 6-foot-10, 210 pounds, power forward/center, freshman

A really talented recruit, Steven Crowl could push for playing time if he comes in and out-performs Carlson. At this point though, I would expect Crowl to redshirt in order to maximize his time on campus. He is a player that fans will love in the years to come, but with so much returning experience he may not be needed to play right away.

The twin brother to Jonathan, Jordan is the type of player that has thrived at Wisconsin. His shooting ability has improved dramatically over the past year, and he is a very good defender as well. While he is likely a year or two away from being ready to contribute, he is player to monitor over the next few seasons.

A really decorated high school prospect, Carter Gilmore was a big walk-on recruiting win for the staff. He will not see time on the court next season, but he could be player that surprises after a few years of development.