clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wisconsin Men’s Basketball: Kamari McGee vying for backup point guard role

With uncertainty behind Chucky Hepburn, Kamari McGee is looking to step up as the lead backup point guard.

NCAA Basketball: UW-Eau Clarie at Wisconsin Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

Kamari McGee hasn’t had a major impact thus far in 2022, playing just 5.3 minutes per game and not scoring through three games this season.

The lack of minutes thus far has led to a timeshare at the backup point guard position with fellow guard Isaac Lindsey, leading to uncertainty as to who can backup Chucky Hepburn and provide stability with ball security in the second unit.

As for his mentality during the time, McGee is looking to stay locked in, rather than dwell on the lack of minutes.

“[I’m looking to] just [stay] locked in and keep working my butt off. Every damn practice, I feel like I’m coming hard. So, I just got to keep working. Can’t really get too deep in my thoughts, just got to keep working, [and] keep pushing for it and earn the minutes. Minutes are not given, they’re earned, so just got to keep pushing for them.”

While McGee has looked for more minutes, he understands that he must earn them, which is his primary focus currently, especially after head coach Greg Gard expressed his desire for the sophomore to get more minutes.

“[Getting more minutes] has been on my mind, but I can’t let it just stay on there. Because, if I just stay in the same mindset, I’m not going to grow. I could be frustrated about it for a little bit, then it’s gotta go, so I can get back to work. Cuz I gotta earn those minutes and get my minutes up. Coach Gard said he wants it, so I just gotta keep working.”

However, despite the low minutes, McGee has enjoyed the opportunity to play in front of the Wisconsin fans over the first few games and enjoy the environment.

“[My first couple of games] have been super fun. Just to see all the red and white in the stands. It’s full out there. And the fans, they support you whether you playing a lot or you coming off and getting a few minutes. They support you no matter what. I can’t wait to see what it feels like when I’m getting more minutes and they start to know who I am a little more.”

NCAA Basketball: UW-Eau Clarie at Wisconsin Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

In his transition to Wisconsin, McGee has developed a good relationship with Coach Dean Oliver, who, like McGee, was a smaller guard during his playing days.

“Coach Oliver has definitely helped me. From rehab, sit-downs, watching film. [When he played], he was a small guard just like me, so you know, he’s definitely helped me push in the right direction. Ever since me and him have been talking, I’ve been pushing in the right direction.”

McGee acknowledged Oliver’s expertise, which made making that connection easy between the two.

“As soon as I stepped here, [we] built that connection right away, because I knew he played at the level, so he knew what it takes to get it down.”

McGee, known for his defensive tenacity, believes that element of his game has improved since he got to Wisconsin, only furthering his confidence on that end.

“[My defense] has definitely improved. My defense, I’ve always looked at that as the first thing. It’s always been on my mind. My defense has always been good and since I got here, it’s gotten a step better. With the workouts I’m doing in the weight room, I’ve gotten faster [and] getting stronger. I’m able to pick guys up full court [and] bodying them a little bit. Since I’ve been here, my defense has improved greatly.”

But, for now, to gain more minutes, McGee’s focus is on ball security, which is vital for that backup point guard position role.

“The coaches know that I can play defense, so I just [gotta] be better with my decision-making and when to try and score and when to look to pass and just stuff like that and just ball security.”

McGee will get his next chance for minutes in the Battle 4 Atlantis, where Wisconsin will face off against Dayton and then another team next week.