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Wisconsin men’s basketball: transfer portal rumblings

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Who might the Badgers be looking at to bring in this offseason to bolster the roster?

Colgate v Wisconsin Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The transfer portal has been a helpful tool for teams looking to add a veteran presence to a young team, some defense to your bench unit or an additional scoring punch in the backcourt for a few years now. The Wisconsin Badgers have taken advantage of the portal in recent offseasons, bringing in players like Chris Vogt and Jahcobi Neath to help fill out the rotation this past year.

Wisconsin has also lost players to the portal, most recently redshirt freshman Matthew Mors, but I’d say that overall the transfer portal has been more of a positive for Greg Gard’s crew than a negative.

The Badgers should have two scholarships, and maybe three depending on what former walk-on Carter Gilmore’s scholarship situation is, available to them this offseason assuming that Mors doesn’t decide to return (very likely) and Johnny Davis decides to enter the NBA Draft (also very likely). Just so everyone is clear, because I’ve seen some confusion on this around the internet, Brad Davison’s scholarship did not count against UW’s limit so him leaving doesn’t give the Badgers an additional one. I won’t speculate on Lorne Bowman’s status, but Gard did say he hopes that the young guard will rejoin the team next year.

There are already a few names of players that Wisconsin could bring on board, so let’s take a look at who Greg Gard might offer a scholarship to, keeping in mind that Vogt and Neath both kinda came out of nowhere last offseason.

Nelly Cummings, Colgate, one year remaining, 6-foot, 180 pounds

This name is probably quite familiar to you, as Cummings is a guard out of Colgate who Wisconsin played in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last week. Cummings scored 20 points and had six assists against the Badgers while playing solid defense as well. He would be coming to Madison as a grad transfer and would presumably be coming in to play major minutes. 247Sports says that Wisconsin has already reached out to Cummings, along with Arkansas, Pitt, Oklahoma, Florida, Minnesota, Temple, NC State, Wichita State and many others. Cummings shot 36.1% from deep last year and would be an excellent addition to the Badgers.

Grant Basile, Wright State, two years remaining, 6-foot-9, 225 pounds

The Pewaukee native has had an excellent last two seasons with Wright State and averaged 18.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 1.6 bpg for the Raiders during his junior year. Basile isn’t a huge threat from beyond the arc, shooting only 28.5% last season, but his 78.8% free throw percentage and 47.6% 3P shooting as a sophomore lead me to believe there is potential to bump that number up. Basile is an excellent rim protector and great rebounder as well.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - San Diego
Basile (No. 00) swats shots at an impressive rate
Photo by Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

He gets to the free throw line often and would be an excellent “first big off the bench” that could spell Tyler Wahl or Steven Crowl depending on the situation. Wisconsin assistant Sharif Chambliss was on staff at Wright State when they were recruiting Basile, so there is a built in connection there already.

Max Klesmit, Wofford, three years remaining, 6-foot-3, 190 pounds

The shooting guard from Neenah is also in the portal looking for a new home. He shot 33.5% from deep last year, but 37.3% during his freshman season with the Terriers. This past year he averaged 14.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg and 1.9 apg while also chipping in 1.6 spg on the defensive end. He is definitely not a lead guard, but he has some passing chops and he doesn’t turn the ball over a ton. Looking at the three guards on this list, Klesmit would be my last choice, but he is still worth a look.

Antonio Reeves, Illinois State, two years remaining, 6-foot-6, 185 pounds

Reeves is, according to Bart Torvik’s transfer portal rankings, the top player on the market currently (Basile is No. 7 FWIW). The Chicago native averaged 20.1 ppg (No. 19 in the country), 3.5 rpg and 1.8 apg last season for the Redbirds. Wisconsin didn’t offer him coming out of high school, but reportedly were right on the cusp.

Illinois State v Wisconsin
Reeves dropped 25 points on Wisconsin at the Kohl Center earlier this year.
Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Reeves made 38.5% of his 182 three-point attempts last season and also shot over 81% at the free throw line. While he isn’t a negative in terms of rebounding or passing, this is a guy you bring in to get buckets. He could slot right in as a Johnny Davis facsimile and have a nice career at UW with Chucky Hepburn feeding him the rock.