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Wisconsin Badgers Basketball: Hoops future looking bright

Wisconsin Basketball has been in good hands for the greater part of two decades now. Dick Bennett (1995-2000) and Bo Ryan (2001-2015) helped the Badgers reach the NCAA tournament in 18 consecutive seasons dating back to 1998-1999. The only programs to have a longer current streak of making the Big Dance? Kansas, Duke and Michigan State.

Coming into the 2016-17 campaign, Greg Gard’s first full season as the Badgers head coach, one has to wonder: Are the Badgers due for a drop off? Is it reasonable to expect the Gard-led-Badgers to continue the program’s unbelievable run of churning out top four finishes in the Big Ten conference, something the Badgers have done every season since 2001 (15 straight seasons for those counting at home) without Bo Ryan?

If the past nine months are any indication, the Badgers will be just fine.

Since being sworn in as the next Badgers head basketball coach in December of 2015, Greg Gard transformed the youthful and struggling Badgers (with just a 7-5 record in the non-conference), into another contender in the Big Ten Conference, finishing in a three way tie for third place (22-13, 12-6), cultivating in earning the Badgers a 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s East region.

And if that wasn’t good enough, the Badgers, who had already surpassed everyone’s expectations by turning their season around and making another NCAA Tournament appearance, defeated (10 seed) Pittsburgh and (2 seed) Xavier on their way to making it to a Sweet Sixteen for a third consecutive season.

A few months later, Nigel Hayes, a star player for the Badgers, decided to come back for his senior season because his draft stock wasn’t quite where he wanted it to be.

Hayes will be reunited with (basically) the entire 2015 roster (with the exception of graduated reserve guard Jordan Smith who averaged less than one point per game). What does this mean for the 2016-17 season outlook? Many media outlets have already predicted the Badgers as the 2016-17 Big Ten champions.

But what about recruiting? Surely the Badgers won’t be able to continue to find and develop 2 star recruits such as Frank Kaminsky’s and transform them into the national player of the year?

It’s still early in the Greg Gard regime, but he has quieted his naysayers early by putting together an extremely talented 2017 class.

The 2017 recruiting class features commitments from three highly touted recruits, they are:

Brad Davison – PG

Guard – 6-foot-3, 190 pounds

High school: Maple Grove (Minnesota)

Stars: 4 (Scout, 247 Sports)

Notable offers: Stanford, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Minnesota, N.C. State, Northwestern and Northern Iowa

Kobe King – SG

Guard – 6-foot-3, 175 pounds

High school: LaCrosse Central (Wisconsin)

Stars: 4 (Scout, 247 Sports)

Notable offers: Iowa State and Marquette

Nathan Reuvers – PF

Forward – 6-foot-10, 210 pounds

High school: Lakeville North (Minnesota)

Stars: 4 (Scout, 247 Sports)

Notable offers: Clemson, Creighton, Illinois, Marquette, Minnesota and Northwestern

These three talented recruits will certainly help get the “Gard era” off to a strong start.

And, if that wasn’t good enough, on Monday (9/12/16) the Badgers received their first verbal commitment from Tyler Herro, arguably the top 2018 prospect in the state of Wisconsin.

The Milwaukee native picked the Badgers over Marquette and others, and is an extremely talented and versatile player. At 6’4, Herro can effectively play the 1, 2 or 3 spots for the Badgers offense, which will give Greg Gard some options if he elects to play a smaller lineup at times, or even a bigger lineup, as Herro can initiate the offense as the point guard at times if necessary.

In a few years, the Badgers could conceivably put a lineup on the floor that includes:

PG – Brad Davison (four star recruit)

SG – Kobe King (four star recruit)

SF – Tyler Herro (four star recruit)

PF – Nathan Reuvers (four star recruit)

C – Ethan Happ (2015-16 B1G freshman of the year)

In the mean time, Badgers fans will have to wait and hope that these promising recruits pan out. But one thing is clear: the Greg Gard era is off to a fantastic start, and the future of Badger hoops appears to be as bright as ever.

 

 

 

 

 

Currently a Sophomore at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Journalism major. Big sports fan, especially football and basketball. I enjoy sports writing in my free-time.

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