Don’t tell Bo Ryan, but the Wisconsin Badgers are actively looking for a graduate transfer. Maybe even more than one. With Jordan Hill’s departure to Seattle University, the Badgers now have two open scholarships for the 2017-18 season.
Given the amount of holes that need to be filled, it is understandable why they would want someone who could come in for one year and contribute.
Personally, I’m with Bo Ryan on this one. Taking a grad transfer, especially in a rebuilding year like this, seems exceptionally short-sighted. Wisconsin likely won’t contend for a Big Ten Championship this season with or without one. But the season after? Wisconsin would be returning everyone on their roster.
In my opinion, it would be much better for the future of the program to focus on developing and giving experience to a young player rather than renting a one-year player that has yet to play a second in the system or build chemistry with the team.
But if Wisconsin were to take a grad transfer — and it is being reported that they are aiming to snag at least one — there are some good options.
Former Oregon guard Casey Benson has the Badgers in his top three along with Butler and Grand Canyon, where his older brother coaches.
Oregon grad transfer Casey Benson tells me he will visit Wisconsin on 4/26, Butler on 4/27, and Grand Canyon on 4/28. List is cut to three.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 22, 2017
Benson started at point guard as a sophomore for an Oregon team that went to the Elite 8. Last season, he was relegated to a backup roll, but was still a valuable piece for the Ducks’ Final Four run. Benson seems like a good fit for the Badgers, as he is careful with the ball, a reliable sharpshooter, and has great leadership and intangibles.
The Badgers are also in some dire need of some guard depth. D’Mitrik Trice and Brevin Pritzl were both inconsistent as freshmen, and are now the only two returning players in the backcourt. The Badgers also add four-star prospects in Brad Davison and Kobe King, but experience is badly needed. Benson, who can play either guard position, will give them that.
Another possible target is Illinois State forward MiKyle McIntosh. At 6-7 and 235 pounds, McIntosh averaged 12.5 points and 5.6 rebounds as a junior. He shot 41% from the field and 35% from three-point territory. Although he is currently in the draft without an agent, he will likely withdraw at some point. The fact that the Badgers just hired Illinois State’s Dean Oliver to be an assistant coach could make Wisconsin an early favorite.
McIntosh could fill Wisconsin’s need for a stretch big man to play next to Ethan Happ. While Wisconsin has some options on the current roster, none are as consistent and proven as McIntosh. However, the Badgers might decide they want someone taller than him to play that position.
Whether McIntosh and Benson become Badgers or not, one things is clear: The era of Wisconsin refusing to go after grad transfers is over. After not taking a single one in the history of the program, they might get as many as two this season. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out.