Wisconsin Basketball: Forward Markus Ilver player profile

Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard reacts during the first half of a NCAA men's basketball game, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020 at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.Bkc Purdue Vs Wisconsin
Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard reacts during the first half of a NCAA men's basketball game, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020 at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.Bkc Purdue Vs Wisconsin /

With the 2020-2021 season behind us, it’s time to look ahead to the incoming recruits Wisconsin basketball has entering the 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 the fourth and final part of our incoming freshman profiles, we will take a deep dive into forward – Markus Ilver.

Recruiting profile

Hometown: Hudson, Ohio (Formerly of Estonia)

Measurables: 6-foot-8 200 pounds

Position: Forward

Rank:  144th overall per 247, 28th ranked power forward, 3rd ranked player in Ohio – Per 247Sports rankings.

Offer list: Xavier, St. Bonaventure, Nebraska, George Mason, East Carolina, and Bryant.

Individual thoughts

Possibly the biggest mystery on a roster full of inexperience, Markus Ilver is a player the Badgers are betting on as a high-upside, late bloomer type of prospect. I think where the Badgers may have benefitted the most in landing this recruit was his lack of overall exposure. It’s easy to see what the team liked in him as a prospect, but due to not having a regular AAU season to showcase his development – coupled with not being able to take official visits, everything broke Wisconsin’s way. I truly believe that he would have seen his recruitment blow up had he been given that final chance to play on the circuit – likely landing more power five offers along the way.

The opposite argument could be made as well. Markus Ilver committed to Wisconsin without ever having set foot on campus or getting the chance to see how he meshed with the players in the program. However, Wisconsin focuses on recruiting fit, so taking a shot on a forward with Ilver’s ceiling/skill-set is absolutely a gamble worth taking. I like this addition for the Wisconsin basketball team due to his ability to shoot and add plus size out on the wing.

Film Review

A few things about Markus Ilver really stand out to me when reviewing his film. First off, he’s a toolsy athlete who has all the athletic ability you could want from a wing with his size. He’s project-able, long, can really shoot, and appears to be a highly intelligent/instinctual player on the court. Second, he’s incredibly raw but has a ceiling that few others on the roster possess. This is a high-risk/high-reward type of prospect, but I feel the Wisconsin basketball program is in a good position to take a chance on him.

You can check out his highlights here.

Markus Ilver is a great shooter with a quick release and range on his jumper, lots of range. This could make him a real weapon should the Badgers run sets for him in their offense. With his size and quick release, it isn’t going to take much to get his shot off over opposing defenders. His size and length are going to give him great versatility on both sides of the ball. Most notably on offense where I think he’s best suited for playing the “3”. Also, with his ability to run the floor, he will be a real asset in transition. He’s someone you can outlet the ball to, put it on the deck once, and explode to the rim.

Obviously, he’s going to have to put on some weight to endure the grind of a Big-Ten schedule, but his frame should easily support any physical maturation. The one area of his offensive game that I think needs the most improvement would be his ball-handling and play-making ability. I don’t view him as an ideal fit at the “4”, so his play-making and ball-handling are going to need to improve to make him more than just a one-trick pony on offense.

Defensively, I think Markus Ilver is exactly what Greg Gard covets. A long, interchangeable athlete with versatility. With some added weight, it shouldn’t be a problem for him to guard either forward spot and should be able to stick with smaller players out on the wing. Not to mention his length really stands out, so should he get beat by a player on offense he should be able to recover and alter shots – making things difficult for whomever he defends. I don’t view him as a great defender yet (I think that’ll come), but he’s tough, has a high IQ, and has all the tools to be a plus defender. Physically he’s got a way to go, but the payoff could be enormous if everything clicks.

Future outlook

As a true freshman, minutes are up for grabs at every position on the court, and the early word is that Ilver is ahead of where the staff thought he’d be. That being said, I think Ilver would benefit from a red-shirt year to mature physically and adapt to the college game. I see him as someone who could give the Badgers minutes off the bench early in his career and possibly develop into a starter later in his career. No matter the outcome I still see Ilver as someone who should be a multi-year contributor to this program.

To give player comparisons using former Wisconsin basketball players, I view his floor as a Duje Dukan type of player – with a ceiling of Sam Dekker type proportions. Due to his upside and skill-set, I would be surprised if he didn’t work his way onto the floor at some point and at least become a valued member of the rotation like Dukan was. No, I don’t think he’ll be an NBA player like Dekker, Ilver just doesn’t have the pedigree. However, I do think his on-court contributions could match that of Sam Dekker’s if he realizes his full potential (big if). This kid has tools you just can’t teach and is going to be a player whose development is worth monitoring.