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Bohannon Ready for Badgers Debut

After averaging 11.1 minutes per game off the bench at Air Force, Zach Bohannon elected for a chance of scenery.

Since his introduction at Wisconsin's media day, Zach Bohannon has displayed his intriguing potential for a fairly young Badgers team.
Since his introduction at Wisconsin's media day, Zach Bohannon has displayed his intriguing potential for a fairly young Badgers team.
Megan McCormick

During local media days for the Wisconsin men's basketball team, an expected buzz and media swarm surrounded players like Josh Gasser, Jared Berggren and Sam Dekker.

Yet, sitting there, quietly and astutely, was a player at a table vacant of press. Something about the face, it was almost like he was recognizable.

Maybe it was because he was a Bohannon. Zach Bohannon, to be more precise.

The little brother of former Badger three-point specialist and starting guard Jason Bohannon, Zach's transfer from Air Force to Wisconsin two years ago largely slipped under the radar.

"It was one of those things that just fell into place," Zach said. "I took a leap of faith. It was a decision ... I didn't have many other options to play at the Division I level."

During his time at Air Force, Bohannon appeared in 39 games and averaged 11.1 minutes off the bench. But, between injuries and the obligation to duties after graduation in the armed forces, Bohannon decided to change scenery.

With no Division I offers on the table, Zach turned his eyes back toward the school his brother once starred at. The Badgers had recruited Zach during his high school years, and not wanting to play a lower level of college basketball, the younger Bohannon found comfort in a familiar place.

And, well, why not Wisconsin? It was a school where Jason had excelled. And that's what UW head coach Bo Ryan leaned on when convincing Zach to consider becoming a Badger.

"When I decided to transfer they said, ‘Hey, the offer's still on the table if you want to walk-on with our program,'" Bohannon said. "The first thing [Ryan] told me was, ‘Make sure you ask Jason the ins and outs of the program. He knows everything, he's been through it for four years ... he was a 1,000-point scorer for me, we played four NCAA tournaments with him. If he doesn't tell you the positives about, it than no one can.'"

"And Jason kind of just laid it out on the line, ‘Just like Air Force, you're going to have some positives and some negatives.' Once I kind of got the ins and outs, I told coach I wanted to take a visit and I took it and everything just fell into place, it was perfect. It was one of those opportunities I couldn't pass it up."

Many UW coaches for various programs have voiced that the hardest part of the recruiting process is getting recruits to take a campus visit. If they can get the recruit on campus, it's all over but the signing.

"That's definitely a true statement," Bohannon said. "Just the campus in general ... I'm more into the academic side of it. I loved the tour of the Education Building and the Business School and meeting with some of the professors and Assistant Deans there, just to help me out on my educational tour of the school."

"That was the thing that really got me, the opportunities that could come outside of the court of basketball, having the opportunity to not only graduate with my undergrad but start my masters because I would be here an extra year is what really sold me on the school and really got me here."

That focus and stated importance of his studies off the court apply to the younger Bohannon's work ethic on the court, as well. With two starters out of the lineup already for the Badgers before the season has even started -- Josh Gasser for the season with a torn ACL and Mike Bruesewitz for some time with a freak leg injury -- Bohannon has made a strong push for a role in the rotation with his play in practice and at the Red/White scrimmage.

Finishing with 13 points, six rebounds and three steals, Bohannon was at a speed similar to an Air Force jet compared to everyone else on the court, fitting that role of the hustle player that Wisconsin seemingly lacks in Bruesewitz's absence.

"He's savvy," Ryan said during his media day presser. "He's that moxie guy I refer to a lot."

So maybe, just maybe, Wisconsin fans will see the 6-foot-6 forward out on the floor come Sunday against Southeastern Louisiana. And while Zach may be one of the toughest competitors the Badgers have on the court, it's nothing compared to the competitor he is with his older brother.

"I think he dominated [in their pick-up games against each other] up until my senior year of high school. Maybe it was my freshman year of college was when it finally started getting competitive," Bohannon said, laughing. "Once that point hit I was finally able to get the confidence and get the momentum to win some games. It's been back-and-forth, the games always end up with the ball thrown across the yard or ball thrown across the gym but overall they're pretty competitive games."