Wisconsin Basketball: Giving out regular season awards

The Wisconsin basketball team heads into the Big Ten Tournament following a very up and down regular season. The Badgers started off hot, going 12-3 in the first half of the season with solid wins over Loyola, a then ranked Minnesota, Michigan State (who looks great now), and Louisville (who was ranked but shorthanded). They had some disappointing losses to Maryland and Marquette, but overall the Badgers started hot, reaching #4 in the AP poll late in November.

From there, the Badgers went 4-8, with most losses coming to ranked opponents including Iowa (x2), Illinois (x2), Michigan, and Purdue. The Badgers were able to keep it close as of late but still failed to beat any of their ranked opponents.

Either way, the Badgers have fought hard to stay afloat, and that came thanks to many individual efforts throughout the season. As long as they win Thursday against the Nittany Lions, this team should see another NCAA March Madness berth. Let’s take a look at some of the individual awards that this team earned after the conclusion of the season.

MVP – D’Mitrik Trice

I’m going to admit that I was one of those who were fed up with the Senior’s play last season. I was sick of watching D’Mitrik Trice dribble until he had to throw up an absurd shot as the shot clock expired.  But this season was the opposite. Trice was consistently the best player on the floor, making key shots and getting hot at the right times.

Trice had a career-high in points per game and steals per game, and probably would have beaten his total points in a season had they played a full schedule. Trice put up 29 points on two separate occasions: once against Michigan State and once against Illinois. Trice was the most consistent player on the Wisconsin basketball team and his leadership will be missed…if he decides to leave.

Best Newcomer – Jonathan Davis 

This one shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, since freshman Jonathan Davis was the only freshman to really see any minutes this season. That being said, Davis made enough of an impact to still deserve this award. Davis wowed Wisconsin basketball fans and opposing team fans alike, making difficult shots at crazy angles. If people weren’t excited about Davis before the season, they surely saw enough to be excited about the future.

Davis finished the season averaging 7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. With such a senior team, it shows Greg Gard really likes and trusts the Freshman, who should be a key part of the Wisconsin basketball team’s success in the coming years.

Most Improved Player – Tyler Wahl

Sophomore Tyler Wahl wasn’t necessarily the most consistent scorer, but after a relatively quiet Freshman season, Wahl had quite a few memorable moments in his 2nd season. Wahl had solid outings against Northwestern (14 points) and Penn State (13 points), hitting three-pointers at important moments of the game.

Wahl played 10 more minutes per game, which led to career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and even free-throw percentage. His footwork has improved, and he has added a bit of muscle after looking a bit scrawny (no offense Tyler) in his first year. Wahl even got a few starts after Nate Reuvers was benched. With the potential departure of Nate Reuvers and/or Micah Potter, Tyler Wahl might have to step up under the hoop and should see even more minutes in 2021-22.

Senior We All Want to Return – Micah Potter

I thought about giving this award to D’Mitrik Trice, but I do believe some of the incoming talents might be a nice replacement for Trice, especially Chucky Hepburn and Lorne Bowman. What the Badgers will miss is Micah Potter‘s presence in the paint and the energy he brings when he gets excited. Potter was another player who improved his game this season, averaging 12.9 points per game (10.1 ppg last season) and shooting 61% from inside the arc.

Potter brings size, strength, and energy to the team when they need it the most, so even though he lacks defensive skills, he still is a huge part of the offense that I don’t think can be replaced quite yet. Even Steven Crowl, who is 7’ tall, is 30 lbs skinnier than Potter. Now I know weight doesn’t necessarily indicate strength, but you can tell the younger guys will be pushed around a bit. Potter would be a huge positive if he indeed stays another season.