Wisconsin Basketball: A look at future forward Chris Hodges

Mar 7, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard on the sideline in the first half against the Indiana Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 7, 2020; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard on the sideline in the first half against the Indiana Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

With the 2020-2021 season behind us, it’s time to look ahead to the incoming recruits Coach Gard has entering the Wisconsin basketball program next season. In total Greg Gard has signed four players in the class of 2021: Chucky Hepburn, Matthew Mors, Chris Hodges, and Markus Ilver. The 2021 class ranks 32nd in the nation and 5th in the Big Ten.

Today in part three of our incoming freshman profiles, we will take a deeper dive into big man Chris Hodges.

Player Profile

Hometown: Schaumburg, IL

Measurables: 6-foot-9 245 pounds

Position: Power Forward/Center

Rank: 153rd overall per 247Sports, 29th ranked power forward, 5th ranked player in Illinois

Prep basketball career stats/accolades, per Max Preps:

2020-21: Opted Out (Citing family health concerns) | Senior

2019-20: 15.5 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks | Junior

2018-19: 16 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2 blocks | Sophomore

2019-2020: Awards

  • Mid-Suburban League West Player of the Year
  • Second-Team Class 4A All-State honors with the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association
  • Unanimous MSL all-conference honoree and a unanimous all-area selection.

2018-2019: Awards

  •  All-Area honors

Offer list: Offered by Rutgers, Loyola Chicago, Miami (OH), and DePaul.

Hodges committed to the Wisconsin basketball team early in the process after getting an offer after Wisconsin’s advanced camp. Prior to the commitment, Hodges was also receiving interest from Michigan State, Iowa, and Illinois.

Individual thoughts

It was incredibly selfless of Hodges to sit out his senior season, putting his family above all else. I think that speaks highly of the character he possesses, which in and of itself will make him a great addition to the program. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the work he put in during the off-season translate to the court. What we do know is that he used this off-season to really commit to hitting the weights and transforming his body.

I like the idea of having a big man who brings a completely different skill-set for the nights where you just need a different look on the court or a player who can bring their own energy. I think Wisconsin is getting a hard-working, blue-collar type of post that has plenty of ceiling left to be scratched.

Chris Hodges played for the Illinois Wolves, an AAU program the Wisconsin basketball team has good connections with (thanks again for Frank Kaminsky). Hopefully, this will be a partnership we see continue into the future.

Film Review

Chris Hodges isn’t your prototypical big man for the Wisconsin basketball team. In an era of positionless basketball where lineups are constantly getting smaller and more versatile, Chris Hodges seems like an outside-the-box way of combating that without giving up any size. Hodges moves his feet well, which should allow him to defend at a high level if he gets stuck out on the perimeter. He is also strong enough that defending the opposing team’s bigs shouldn’t be a problem even if he gives up some height.

You can see some of his summer highlights here.

Standing at 6-foot-9, Chris Hodges’ offensive game comes from in the paint. Hodges is the kind of player you dump it off to on the low block and let him out-muscle his defender for an easy basket, using both hands efficiently. Hodges’ footwork is already advanced for a player this early in his development. Finishing through contact is something he appears to thrive doing, and I expect that to translate to the Big Ten as he matures. Where I think he has the chance to thrive is in the pick and roll. He sets strong screens that should be difficult for guards to get through and isn’t afraid of contact. Hodges has noted that his face-up game is something that still requires work, but that it’s something he’s trying to improve.

Chris Hodges was an accomplished shot-blocker in high school and a willing rebounder. One of the most attractive traits he possesses is the way he competes on the glass. I think Hodges is a player who could come in and impact the game even in short bursts with his toughness and ability to get the team easy second-chance points.

Hodges’ tenacity and physicality are traits that make him unique. He’s more physically ready than most big men that step on campus as freshmen. Offensively I think he may take some time to develop and find his fit in Coach Gard’s system.

Future outlook

Currently, it’s difficult to project where Hodges’ immediate opportunity will come from. There will certainly be competition for minutes at every position given due to the vacated minutes from the outgoing senior class. I think it’s safe to say that Tyler Wahl, Ben Carlson, and Steven Crowl are going to have a good share of minutes spoken for moving forward. Not to mention transfer big man Chris Vogt who should see a good chunk of time this season. That being said, Hodges does offer a different look than all of those I mentioned above which could benefit him.

I think Chris Hodges will find his way onto the floor after he’s gotten some seasoning. I see Hodges as a player who can be a spark plug off the bench that’s really able to impact a game, even if only in limited minutes initially. A steady bench option for multiple seasons with the potential to grow into a larger role is what I predict from the Schaumburg native. Hodges could even start against smaller lineups if Gard wants to play match-ups, which is something he’s shown he will do. Evan Flood said it best, I think Chris Hodges will end up being who we thought Charlie Thomas was going to be, which certainly is an asset.

If his shooting improves and his offensive arsenal opens up then you can throw everything I said out the window, but until then, this what I feel is the most likely scenario.

Give me a follow on Twitter at @Badgers_Notes for more Wisconsin basketball content.