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Wisconsin basketball returning player profile: Aleem Ford

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One of seven seniors on the roster, Aleem Ford is a key piece for the Badgers in 2020-2021.

Wisconsin v Michigan State Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

While the official start date of the 2020-2021 college basketball season is still up for discussion, we here at Bucky’s 5th Quarter are champing at the bit for hoops to start and have decided to get our returning player profile series going again. Over the next two weeks we will profile all of the returning players and then the week after that we will profile all of the incoming freshmen on the team.

Up next in our rolling series is starting forward Aleem Ford.

Purdue v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Position: forward

Height: 6-foot-8

Year: redshirt senior

Hometown: Lawrenceville, Ga. (IMG Academy)

Recruiting info: class of 2016, 3-star small forward by both 247 Sports and Rivals; offers from American, Richmond, Rutgers, Saint Louis, and a smattering of lower-tier D1 programs.

2019-20 statistics: started all 31 games, averaged 25.3 minutes per game, 8.7 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game, and connected on 40 total three-pointers.

Career statistics: 95 games played with 49 starts, averaged 5.9 points per game, three rebounds per game, and has shot just over 35% from three-point range.

Player overview: Aleem Ford put together by far his best season with the Badgers last year. After a surprisingly strong freshman campaign in which he started 20 games and averaged almost six points per game, Ford struggled his sophomore season due to a knee injury and inconsistent play.

The 6-foot-8 forward elevated his game though as a junior, improving his impact across nearly all major statistical metrics. Last season he shot over 50% from the field and his game steadily improved as the season wore on. Ford registered double figures in seven of the last 10 games to close out the season, and was much more aggressive on both ends of the court and as a rebounder. His strong effort towards the end of the season was a big reason for the Badgers overall improved play as a unit that culminated with a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship.

Role on 2020-21 team: With the core nucleus, including seven seniors, all returning, the Badgers appear to have the makings of a strong team this season. After starting in each game last season, Aleem Ford should continue that trend in 2020-2021 after a strong off-season.

Ford’s confidence seemed to steadily rise after the departure of Kobe King pushed him into a larger share of minutes last season. He showed a willingness to play both forward spots, and that should help him maintain a foothold in the starting lineup and core rotation even with Micah Potter expected to see more playing time this year.

Ford was a fairly unheralded recruit coming out of high school, but he has blossomed into a key starter for the Badgers that can play inside-out offensively. His improved physicality on the defensive end and in rebounding was noticeable late last year. If that aggressiveness carries over into this year, Ford could see another nice uptick in production.