Now that the dust has settled from Tuesday evening’s incredibly disappointing end to the Wisconsin basketball season (even though the pain has not diminished), it’s time to use the disappointment from this year as fuel for next season.
Recruiting Ranking Class
While I check multiple recruiting websites and services, the one I use and reference the most is 247. All team and player rankings come from them.
Like everything else with Wisconsin basketball, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that our ranking in the Big Ten has increased by two positions. This is due to Penn State losing one of its biggest recruits in program history, Carey Booth, after Micah Shrewsberry left State College for South Bend. Minnesota also fell below us when one of their recruits decommitted.
The slightly bad news is that the national ranking dropped one position from 39th to 40th. This figure is a combination of high school seniors and any transfers that occur. While no one has come or gone through the portal as of yet, the transfer rank position is 121. The recruiting ranking is 37th.
While these numbers can be used as a barometer of the health of a program, they are not the end-all, be-all for success. For example, from 2011 to 2014, Wisconsin’s rank of incoming freshmen, nationally, was 43rd, 61st, 38, and 130th.
What did Wisconsin do with those at best average recruits? Just make two Final Fours and one National Championship game.
So for those who constantly cite Greg Gard’s poor recruiting, unfortunately, that’s been plaguing Wisconsin basketball its entire history.
Transfer Portal Update
As its season just ended, there hasn’t been any official activity for Wisconsin basketball in the portal. While there has been speculation with just about everyone on the roster with regard to departing, there has been no definite declaration yet. Compare that to North Carolina’s situation, where they are losing their leading scorer Caleb Love along with five other players as well.
Wisconsin is suspected to be in running for a few different players. 2019 Wisconsin Mr. Basketball, Marcus Domask from Southern Illinois has entered the 2023 NBA Draft process while retaining his college eligibility and announced he has entered the portal should he elect to come back for his senior season. He is a 6’6″ forward who averaged 16.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. He was also 120 of 137 from the foul line (87.6%), indicating that he can not only get to but also score, from the foul line.
Another portal prospect is Big Ten guard Jayden Epps, of Illinois. The 6’2″ freshman guard started 11 games and averaged 24 minutes and 9.5 points per game. His freshman year is very comparable to Chucky Hepburn’s freshman season. Bringing in someone that could provide depth in a key area is exactly what this team needs.
Incoming Freshman Updates
The accolades keep piling up for future Badger Nolan Winter. Just 2 weeks removed from being named the Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year, he was named the AP Minnesota Player of the Year just today as well. His team, Lakeville North (also the high school alma mater of current Badger Tyler Wahl), won the 3rd place consolation game in the state playoffs after losing in the state semi-finals 79-77. During the six-game postseason run, Winter averaged 23.8 points per game.
Gus “The Bus” Yalden’s season concluded when La Luimere High School lost to Arizona Compass Prep 46-44 and then Kansas Sunrise Christian Academy 49-46. In arguably the toughest basketball conference in the country, Yalden led his team with 14.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Routinely going up against numerous Division I signed players, Yalden could potentially come in immediately next season and be a contributing member in the big man rotation.
John Blackwell’s season also concluded after a loss in their 3rd playoff game. He should also be able to provide valuable bench contributions.
While no one is expecting these newcomers to come in and instantly start, they definitely have the ability to spell the starters and not have too big of a drop-off.
The next few weeks will be ones to watch very closely, to see if any of the rumors come true with regard to outgoing Badgers. There is rarely anything boring with Wisconsin basketball, except maybe their offense.
I was about an hour to early on this, as just breaking news, Wisconsin guard Jordan Davis has entered the portal.