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Wisconsin basketball 2021-2022 preview: potential rotation

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A way-too-early look at what the 2021-2022 rotation might look like.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Wisconsin at North Carolina Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

In a wild, up and down season, the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team wound up making it into the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament before ultimately falling to the Baylor Bears on Sunday afternoon.

With the majority of the senior laden group is expected to move on this off-season, the 2021-2022 team is destined to look completely different.

As part of our off-season review of the 2020-2021 team’s accomplishments, and our ongoing preview for next season, let’s first dive into what the rotation might look like for Greg Gard and company next winter.


Lingering questions

Before looking at which players will likely comprise the starting lineup next season, questions remain about which seniors will decide to come back for another year in Madison.

At this point D’Mitrik Trice, Aleem Ford, Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter appear to heading to other endeavors, with Potter the only player of that group that has not yet confirmed the decision publicly. Walk-on Walt McGrory is another player that has probably played his last game in a Badgers uniform as well. (Editor’s note: Matt is correct as McGrory entered the transfer portal after writing this.)

The other two seniors are question marks.

Trevor Anderson and Brad Davison I believe are much more likely to consider coming back. Anderson missed an entire year due to a knee injury and transfer, and Brad Davison did not use a redshirt year on campus.

With the potential that Anderson and Davison could come back, here are two possible starting lineups. The first with both seniors coming back, and the second with a completely flipped roster. Both options assume that a transfer is not brought in at this time.

Scenario #1: Davison + Anderson are back

  • Point guard: Chucky Hepburn —> 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, true freshman

Lorne Bowman and possibly Trevor Anderson could have something to say about this, but I believe Chucky Hepburn will be PG1 come next fall/winter. Hepburn is a great ball handler, tough as nails defender, and solid scorer, making him the best option (in my eyes) to run the offense. His speed and quickness should allow Wisconsin to possibly play a different brand of basketball next year, but his toughness, leadership, and poise under pressure set him apart.

  • Shooting guard: Brad Davison —> 6-foot-4, 202 pounds, fifth year senior (COVID-Waiver)

If Brad Davison is back he will surely be a starter. He would be the unquestioned leader of the team, and be a solid bridge of leadership to some of the younger players on the roster. Davison played much better the latter half of this past season (outside of the Baylor game), and his presence alone would annoy opposing players and fan bases around the Big Ten.

  • Wing (guard/forward): Jonathan Davis —> 6-foot-5, 196 pounds, freshman

Regardless of if Davison is back, Jonathan Davis should see plenty of touches next season. After averaging seven points as a true freshman, Davis is primed for a much bigger role in 2021-2022. He is the best pure scorer on the roster coming back, and his abilities on both ends of the court make him a breakout candidate in the conference.

  • Power forward: Tyler Wahl —> 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, sophomore

After pushing himself into a starting role this past year, Tyler Wahl will once again be a starter next season. At 6-foot-9, his length and athleticism give Greg Gard plenty of versatility to shift him up and down the lineup if needed, but for now I will keep him at power forward if Davison comes back. Wahl should continue to improve on the offensive end, and that will be necessary with Potter and Reuvers no longer in the equation next year (most likely).

Center: Steven Crowl —> 7-foot, 217 pounds, freshman

Ben Carlson is probably the most skilled big man on the roster, but Steven Crowl’s size make him the better option to start in my eyes. The Big Ten is fraught with talented bigs year after year, and having a talented 7-footer to help patrol the paint is invaluable. Crowl saw spot minutes this season, most notably against North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and overall he held up well. Crowl is a capable shooter and also distributed the ball well coming out of high school. I think banging against Potter and Reuvers all season long in practice should pay dividends come next season, but Crowl could definitely use some added strength and bulk this off-season.

Scenario #2: Youth movement

  • Point guard: Chucky Hepburn —> 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, true freshman

Regardless of what happens with Davison and/or Anderson I still believe that Hepburn has the inside track at the starting point guard role. He is the best pure point guard on the roster, and he should be a multi-year starter for the Badgers.

  • Shooting guard: Jonathan Davis —> 6-foot-5, 196 pounds, freshman

If Davison does not come back, Davis will probably play the two. The Badgers best scoring threat on the roster, Davis would shoulder the offensive load, and he could easily average close to 18 points per if his game continues to develop. This is a big off-season for Davis, but he has already shown flashes of what he can be in the future.

  • Wing (guard/forward): Matthew Mors —> 6-foot-7, 220 pounds, true freshman

I think this spot is the biggest question mark if Davison does not come back. Mors is an excellent shooter and does a lot of the little things really well. He already has the size to bang in the Big Ten, and he has the talent to do it early in his career as well. I’m not sure if Greg Gard would start two true freshmen, but if he does Mors and Hepburn are more than capable. If Gard wants to go big Wahl could shift to play the three and Ben Carlson could be inserted at power forward, but for now I think Mors ability to score make him an asset in the starting lineup.

Lorne Bowman (at the two with Jonathan Davis staying at the three) is another possibility if Greg Gard is set on having three guards in the lineup. Bowman is a plus shooters, and that is the biggest need in the lineup next season in my opinion.

  • Power forward: Tyler Wahl —> 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, sophomore

Wahl is a surefire bet to be in any starting lineup next year. He could bump to play the three if needed, but his shooting limitations (for now) make it all the more necessary to have a pure shooter like Mors in the lineup in my opinion.

  • Center: Steven Crowl —> 7-foot, 217 pounds, freshman

Once again, there is a chance that Ben Carlson earns the starting nod over Crowl, but for now I will continue to roll with the 7-footer.

First off the bench

  • Trevor Anderson (if he comes back) —> 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, senior (COVID-Waiver)

If he opts to return Anderson will probably be a rotational piece once again next season. I think Hepburn has the higher upside and he is a more natural floor general, but Anderson’s energy off the bench make him an ideal fit for minutes in spurts.

  • Ben Carlson —> 6-foot-9, 218 pounds, freshman

As mentioned earlier, Carlson could potentially be a starter next season, but I believe his skills could be better utilized off the bench. His offensive game is further along than Crowl’s, and he has the ability to work inside-out as a shooter, but at only 6-foot-9 his size in the Big Ten make him an ideal power forward. Wahl will likely be the starter at the four, and Carlson could come off the bench to help out at the four or five. If Carlson grows an inch or two this off-season he may wind up the starter, but for now I think his offensive abilities are best suited as a sixth man. I see Carlson having a Potter type role next season, and I can already imagine the frustration of folks if that indeed occurs.

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

A good shooter with decent length and quickness on the defensive end, I think that Bowman should contribute next season. If Davison and/or Anderson do not come back I believe his role will be fairly sizable in the rotation. Bowman has the ability to play either guard spot, and his shooting ability could make him valuable as a scoring threat off the bench. The key for him will be how he transitions back in after essentially a full year off, but the talent and versatility is there.

True Freshmen who may play

As displayed above, I firmly believe that both Chucky Hepburn and Matthew Mors will play key roles next year. The duo are really strong players and with so many minutes up for grabs I have a feeling that they are the most prepared to help out immediately, whether they are starters or not.

However, I don’t believe they are the only two that may see the floor next year.

  • Chris Hodges —> 6-foot-8, 235 pounds, true freshman

I think that Hodges is another young player that could easily see floor time. His skillset is very different than anyone else on the roster, and his size could be called upon in more physical games. Wahl and Carlson will likely start out the season ahead of him in terms of a “depth chart,” but Hodges is the type of big man that the Badgers could have used the past few seasons at times. His ability to protect the rim and do damage in the paint make him an intriguing option for playing time right away if needed.

Keep an eye on

  • Jordan Davis —> 6-foot-4, 202 pounds, freshman

I think that Jordan Davis could be a wildcard next season. While I do not believe that he is going to be a starter, or burst onto the scene as an All-B1G player next season, I think he could give the Badgers a shooting lift off the bench next year. In a very small sample size (he only played 18 minutes this past season), he was 2-of-5 from three, and showed a willingness to shoot when on the floor. With a lack of other wings of his size on the team, he could be a valuable contributor. This is especially true if Davison does not come back.

Redshirt candidate(s)

  • Markus Ilver —> 6-foot-8, 195 pounds, true freshman

A later addition to the 2021 class, Ilver is very skilled on the offense end. He has the ability to not only shoot well, but also get to the rim with his length. At this point he could probably use a redshirt season to gain bulk and round out his game on the defense end.

The rest of the room

  • Carter Gilmore: A walk-on from Arrowhead, Carter Gilmore is a player that could see playing time depending on the opponent. I think Mors will make extended playing for Gilmore hard to come by, but Gilmore did see the court as a true freshman at times.
  • Joe Hedstrom: Another seven footer, Hedstrom is a big man that could give some minutes off the bench if needed.
  • Carter Higginbottom: The pivotal energy guy for the team on the bench, Higginbottom will keep that glue guy role once again next year.
  • Justin Taphorn: Another walk-on, Tapborn saw late game minutes in six games this year. I would anticipate a similar role in his second season on campus.