The Wisconsin Badgers have undergone an eventful offseason, retaining forward Tyler Wahl for a fifth season before adding transfers A.J. Storr and Noah Reynolds, although the latter eventually de-committed to play for UW-Green Bay.
They capped off the excitement with a bang, landing a commitment from top 2024 target Daniel Freitag, who is expected to be the point guard of the future for the team.
However, the Badgers did not add another big man via the transfer portal, an area where they lacked depth in 2022, raising some concerns about the overall team heading into a vital 2023 year for head coach Greg Gard.
In comes 2023 four-star recruits Gus Yalden and Nolan Winter, two forwards that have experience playing the center position and could see early playing time for the Badgers in reserve roles.
Yalden has been pegged as the more college-ready prospect, but could Winter be ready to play immediately as well?
Speaking on VNN’s The Interview, Winter shared details surrounding his senior season, improved game, and what he brings to the table for the Badgers.
The most eye-opening part? The Badgers forward is currently at around 220 pounds, with goals to build up to 240 by the winter in preparation for the season.
“Yeah, I’m like 220 right now, so I still got a ways to go. I’m hoping to put on 15 or 20 this summer and that would put me at like 240. I feel like that’d be good for this winter,” Winter shared.
The 2023 forward understands that his weight likely determines how quickly he can get on the court, but envisions somewhat of a point-forward role that could occupy any of the five positions when on the court.
“[My role] is just going to depend this summer how much weight I put on. We’re going to maybe play the little bit of the wing, start wing four,” Winter said. “But again, if I get a rebound, I can push the ball to court and I’ll bring it up and whatever, but, yeah, I’m thinking we’re going to play the wing, maybe a little four, and then as I put weight on, keep the wing, but maybe go and post more, play low five. So it’s just going to depend on the summer and how that goes and how much better I get, how much stronger I get, and all that.”
While Winter has to add weight, he did earn some experience as a center this past season at Howard Pulley, which has prepared him better for his role with the Badgers.
“So, [with Howard] Pulley, I played like, one through five, so I’d bring the ball up court, like off a rebound, I’d play the wing. I’d go and post them up. This winter, though, I had to change it up just because, based on the team, we didn’t really have a big guy,” Winter said. “So, I took the role of being the true five, and I mainly just posted up, which I think is really going to help my game at Wisconsin. I mean, I’ve never really done that before. I was never this tall.”
Now, the four-star will be able to combine his guard skills and big man experience, which should help him transition into a role at Wisconsin, both inside and outside.
“I played a lot of point guard growing up, and I got guard skills now where I can shoot and dribble and all that. So, playing the five and learning from Coach Oxton and Coach Nolan, our assistant coach, is really going to benefit me because now I feel comfortable playing inside and out at Wisconsin.”
As for his decision to join the Badgers, Winter recalls how tough it was to step away from his hometown, but is looking forward to forging his own path, understanding Wisconsin’s track record of developing players similar to him.
“Yeah, I’m super excited [to come to Wisconsin]. No regrets towards it. I mean, just the way that they develop players like me, John Leuer, Frank Kaminsky, even a little Sam Decker, I couldn’t be more excited to get in the program and get to work. The decision was definitely hard, though, going against Minnesota, where my dad and mom both played,” Winter shared. “It was a tough decision, but at the end of the day, I had to do what was best for me and again, a part of me I didn’t really want to follow and be Trevor Winter’s kid playing at Minnesota, doing the same thing he did. I kind of wanted my own path. I’m super excited and I’m ready to get to work with Wisconsin.”
But, a key part of that decision was head coach Greg Gard, who shares similarities with Winter’s high school coach John Oxton in that they both represent the old school style.
“Yeah, I like old school [coaching]. Get on you when you don’t do something right, don’t congratulate you when you do something right. Just kind of head down, keep going. My high school coach, Coach Oxton, he’s kind of like that,” Winter said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better coach. He’s always on you. He’s always making you better. But he knows when to push you and he knows when to congratulate you. But like I said, I like a coach who’s like, whatever, good job, we’re moving on, we’re going to go get better, and that kind of stuff. So I’m always looking to improve and I like the old school style of coaching.”
It’s currently unclear what role Winter will have on an improved Badgers team in 2023, but the forward is looking to build mass to compete for minutes in the frontcourt, where Wisconsin should welcome his skill and shooting ability into the fold.