Don’t underestimate how important Showalter has been to Wisconsin’s success over the last few seasons. He was a perfect glue guy that always brought his contagious energy and toughness to every single game. He was a key part of Wisconsin’s second Final Four run, and helped the team get to consecutive Sweet 16’s during his two seasons starting at shooting guard. While he was never a volume scorer, he provided consistent shooting and timely drives while also playing tight defense on the opponent’s best guard.
No matter how much flak Badger fans may have given him over his inconsistent shooting, it is impossible to write the history of Wisconsin Basketball without highlighting Nigel Hayes. In his first two seasons, he was a huge part of the most successful Wisconsin teams in program history. In his next two seasons, he took a leadership role, helping to make the transition from Bo Ryan to Greg Gard seamless. Last season, he averaged 13.1 points per game from the small forward position while simultaneously being the best defender and leader on the roster. He also had the clutch basket against Villanova to get to his fourth Sweet 16. Say what you want, but it is going to be tough to replace an all-time winner like he was.
After missing his true freshman season with a broken foot, the highly touted class of 2015 recruit became a contributor off the bench last season. However, it wasn’t with his shooting like everyone expected. Despite three-point shooting being his claim to fame, Pritzl only hit 24% of his long balls last season. Instead, he made an impact by doing all the little things. He defended, hustled, and provided an energy boost. While he needs to keep that up this season, he also must become a scorer. He is an excellent shooter. He hit them in high school, in practice and in Australia. Now, he needs to become a reliable sharpshooter and scorer in real games for the Badgers.
Out of all the members of the 2015 recruiting class, Iverson has made the biggest impact for the Badgers. Whether it is his electrifying dunks, his great defense, or his outstanding rebounding, Iverson always seems to make plays for the Badgers. However, now that he will likely enter the starting lineup, he needs to show consistency on offense. In his first two seasons, he really only scored on fast breaks, backdoor cuts and put backs. In order for Wisconsin’s offense to reach its full potential, he needs to be a threat to score on drives and jump shots. His defense and rebounding has the chance to be elite. Wisconsin needs him on the court as much as possible. But his offense needs to take a jump for that to happen.
Despite being only a true freshman, King may already be the most versatile offensive player on Wisconsin. He can score from all three levels: Beyond the arc, mid-range and at the basket. While he may not open the season as a starter, he is going to be one of Wisconsin’s best scorers. If he can prove that the defensive drop off from him to Iverson isn’t too much, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him earn a starting spot at some point.
After redshirting last season, the hype around Ford this offseason was off the charts. He was thought to be a possible starter, and maybe even the second best player on the team. However, after a quiet stint in Wisconsin’s trip to Australia, the buzz surrounding Ford mostly subsided. But he still has the tools to have a breakout season off the bench. He has solid length and athleticism, while also boasting the offensive skills needed to provide a scoring spark for the Badgers. He’ll likely see some time at both the three and the four, although at this point, it’s unclear how much.
Davison was talked about in-depth in the point guard preview article. But he’ll also likely see some time playing at the two alongside Trice or in three-guard lineups. He has a good shooting stroke and a glue guy mentality like Showalter and Josh Gasser. Greg Gard is going to have a tough time keeping him off the floor.
Projected Depth Chart
Starters: Pritzl, Iverson
Next: Davison, King
This unit has the potential to be really strong. Pritzl and Iverson will be a good defensive tandem starting on the wing. They both play with a lot of energy and heart. There will also surely be an uptick in their scoring. Meanwhile, the Badgers bring a ton of quality depth off the bench. Davison, King, and Ford are all going to be really good players for Wisconsin. All three can provide instant offense. If the two starters take the expected jump, the Badgers may be even better on the wing from top-to-bottom than they were last season.
For the point guard preview, click here. Big men will be up next.