Wisconsin Basketball: What To Expect From The 2021 Class Next Season

Point Guard | Chucky Hepburn

Player profile:

Hometown: Bellevue, Nebraska.

Measurables: 6’1 185 lbs.

Position: Point Guard

Rank: 199th overall per 247Sports (criminally underrated), 20th ranked PG, 2nd ranked player in Nebraska.

Offer List: Creighton, Minnesota, Nebraska.

Chucky Hepburn is lauded as the crown jewel of the 2021 class, and with good reason. The badgers lost both point guards who logged minutes last season, leaving this year’s point guard competition wide open. 

Hepburn is a true point guard in every sense. He’s a selfless playmaker, crafty with the basketball, and prides himself on defense. Simply put, he makes everyone around him better. 

My expectation is that Chucky Hepburn takes the reigns of starting point guard in year one. I understand just how tall of a task that is, especially in the Big-10. I think he’s far enough along in his development that he’s capable of learning on the job. In a perfect world I think you would get his feet wet the first season before starting him, but the badgers are young and particularly inexperienced at the position. Hepburn’s defense first mentality and ability to orchestrate an offense should give him the inside track on starting as a true freshman.

I think Hepburn will take his fair share of lumps, especially in a conference as deep and talented as the Big-10. But Hepburn is an extension of the coach on the floor and should give badger fans glimpses of the player he’s going to become. His ability to take care of the basketball will ultimately determine how many minutes he’s going to get to play in year one, but Hepburn is the one player from this class I’d put my stamp on being a sure thing. I have the same feeling about Chucky Hepburn as an impact player in this program as I did Jonathan Davis. I think Chucky Hepburn has some Jordan Taylor in him, and I don’t say that lightly. 

Forward | Matthew Mors

Player Profile:

Hometown: Yankton, South Dakota.

Measurables: 6’7’’ 220 lbs.

Position: Forward

Rank: 149th overall per 247, 28th ranked power forward, 1st ranked player in South Dakota.

Offer list: Creighton, Iowa, Iowa State, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, South Dakota State, and TCU.

Matthew Mors comes to Wisconsin as one of the most decorates prep basketball players in South Dakota history. The Yankton native offers versatility for the badgers and is capable of playing either forward spot. His shooting ability and scorer’s mentality are what I think will set him apart from other forwards already on the roster. 

Matthew Mors is polished enough to log minutes right away. There are several other versatile forwards already on the roster so there will be plenty of competition, but Mors scoring ability off the bench should be an asset on a young inexperienced team that will be searching for an identity. 

For Mors I don’t think it’s a matter of if, but when he see’s the floor as a true freshman. How many minutes he plays I think comes down to how quickly he picks up the defensive scheme and is able to consistently apply the principles. 

Forward/Center | 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

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

Big man, Chris Hodges was the first player to commit to Wisconsin’s 2021 class. What makes him unique is that he’s nothing like the other big men Greg Gard has recruited during his tenure. Chris Hodges is a physical, low post presence that gives the team some nasty down low. 

Physically he’s ready to log minutes from day one, it’s just not likely that he’s far enough in his development to see the floor right away. Big men do tend to take some time before they’re able to contribute for the badgers, and Chris Hodges is no exception. He offers a very different look defensively, which could certainly play into his favor. Teams around college basketball are trending towards position-less basketball and keep getting smaller – so Hodges size, strength, and athleticism could help him see minutes when teams decide to go small. 

I see Hodges as someone who would benefit from a red-shirt his freshman year, and then making a push for a role off the bench in year two. Evan Flood said it best, Chris Hodges could be who they thought Charlie Thomas was supposed to be for the badgers. He is someone the badgers will be able to get it to down on the block and let him out-muscle opposing defenders/scrap on the glass for second chance points.  

Long-term I see Hodges as a role player that provides energy off the bench, but is able to impact games in limited minutes.

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.

Marcus Ilver is Greg Gard’s lottery ticket in the 2021 class. Ilver never so much as set foot on campus before his commitment to Wisconsin. Due to his measurables and athleticism, Markus Ilver could have the highest ceiling in the class. With that being said, he’s the greatest unknown entering his freshman season – and could very well have the furthest to go in terms of development. 

Minutes are wide open at forward and its not inconceivable that he could force his way into the rotation as a true freshman, however I feel that it’s unlikely. The early returns on Ilver have been positive and have even pegged Ilver as being further along then expected. Ultimately the best course of action for Ilver might be to be red-shirt this season, hitting the weight room, and soaking in as much information as possible. His versatility and shooting should make him a fixture in the rotation, so the physical maturation should take precedence in year one. 

I really do really like Marcus Ilver, maybe even more than most. Not because I think he’s a sure thing, but because even his 90th percentile outcome would be a really high-level player in the program. I am not going to make any bold proclamations on Marcus Ilver. I’m just going to say I see his floor as a Duje Dukan type of player in the program (who was a vital part of our schools’ best teams) – playing off the bench as a tweener forward/three-point specialist. The ceiling I think could be similar to that of Sam Dekker if he’s able to mature physically and follow a consistent arc of development. Either way, this was a good shot for Greg Gard to take.

As Always Give us a follow on Twitter at @Badgers_Notes for more badger basketball news, recruiting and analysis.

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One thought on “Wisconsin Basketball: What To Expect From The 2021 Class Next Season

  1. Can’t wait to start the season even though most are young & new. Hope they can keep the Badgers on the upper half. New names but looking good.


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