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Wisconsin men’s basketball: what does new point guard Kamari McGee bring to the Badgers?

The former Green Bay starting floor general will take on a different role in Madison. How equipped is he to handle it?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 04 Green Bay at Cleveland State Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I don’t know how many of you (UWGBintheDance not included) watched a ton of Green Bay Phoenix games this past season, so I thought it might be useful to talk about what kind of player Wisconsin is getting with new transfer point guard Kamari McGee.

First let’s get the basics out of the way.

Hometown: Racine
High school: Racine St. Catherine’s
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: we don’t know!
Position: point guard
Eligibility: true sophomore

Last season, McGee was named to the Horizon League All-Freshman team and was named Freshman of the Week three times. He averaged 11.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.5 turnovers per game on the season. He shot 38.8% from the field, 27.5% from deep and 80.8% from the free throw line. He averaged 29 minutes per game and played in all 30 contests that Green Bay participated in.

Let’s take a look at some of his rates now, as those can often tell you more about the player than their per game averages. McGee played in 73.8% of his team’s minutes and had an incredibly high usage rate, especially for a freshman, being involved in 26.9% of Green Bay’s possessions (No. 187 in the nation) and taking 29.3% of the shots for Green Bay when he was on the floor (No. 119 in the nation). His offensive rating was a dreadful 87.7 but as our pal Ken Pomeroy puts it, “it is difficult to combine high possession usage with high offensive rating.”

Interestingly, his offensive rating was 93.4 when playing against the three best teams on Green Bay’s schedule (Wisconsin, Kansas State and Minnesota). In those three games, all losses natch, McGee averaged 10.6 ppg (13-of-24, 54.1% from the field; 1-of-8, 12.5% from three), 2.0 rpg, 2.0 apg and 2.3 turnovers per game. He also had one steal, made all three of his free throw attempts and only committed six fouls.

Now, that is obviously a crazy small sample size, and his worst game by far was against Wisconsin which may have soured some people on him, but it shows that he isn’t one to shrink from better competition.

Looking at McGee’s turnovers and you probably aren’t impressed by the numbers. His turnover rate was 19.8 last season (which would’ve been the worst on Wisconsin’s team last year, although Lorne Bowman’s 17.6% was the closest) but that should be cut down drastically due to his decrease in usage in Wisconsin’s offense. For reference, Bowman’s usage was 19% and his percentage of shots taken was 18% and Chucky Hepburn’s was even lower.

Going beyond the numbers in the box score, the first thing that jumps out at you when you watch McGee play is that he is quick. He can get around his man and towards the basket with ease and he can jump into passing lanes on defense to deflect or steal the ball.

While short, McGee seems to hang in the air a beat longer than other players and can finish by the rim acrobatically. He also has a burgeoning floater package that he’ll need to continue developing, especially as he’s facing taller defenders in the Big Ten.

As far as shooting, which is the swing skill for McGee to see if he’s just a backup point guard or, potentially, a top sixth man in the conference, I have some mixed reviews. His excellent free throw shooting portends an improvement in his jump shooting, but I’m just not sold on his shooting mechanics. I’m hopeful that as a young player he has plenty of time to tinker with it and it will improve.

Syndication: Green Bay Press-Gazette Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK

When looking at the five-man lineup data at it’s disappointing to see that a grouping including McGee isn’t even in the top-25 of the Horizon League. Hell, he isn’t even on the best five-man lineup just for the Phoenix. I’m willing to overlook this because Green Bay was, well, not a good team last season and McGee, as the starting point guard, was often matched up with other, better teams’ top players. Watching his reactions in the highlight video above, McGee seems like a passionate, competitive player who will be diving on the floor for loose balls. That will serve him well in the Big Ten and can offset some of the perceived gaps in talent between him and other guards in the conference.

I think to start off his career in Madison, McGee is going to be the consummate backup floor general who does all of the little things to keep the offense from stagnating while Hepburn is on the bench. After playing for a season at Green Bay under Will Ryan (Bo Ryan’s son) he’ll have some solid defensive tendencies and he’ll surely improve his ball security as well. While this pickup for the Badgers may not move the needles nationally, McGee is exactly the type of player that UW was looking for and should slot right into the rotation seamlessly.

Wisconsin isn’t done in the transfer portal, they need another big man and a wing that can shoot at a minimum, and it’ll be interesting to see what other players they bring on board before next season.