Wisconsin Badgers Basketball: Early Season Grades
The Wisconsin Badgers basketball season is well underway, with UW getting off to a solid 5-1 start. Their showing at the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis was admirable, winning games against Dayton and USC and being just one final rebound away from beating the then-third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks in overtime.
The overall depth has shined in the first few games, with new additions to the regular rotation providing meaningful contributions. Let’s grade each of the Badgers’ regular contributors. These grades take into account not only current performance but also expectations coming into the season. Only players who have seen action in each of the first six games are included.
The Wisconsin Badgers Starting Five
Chucky Hepburn C-
Chucky came into the season with high expectations and is one of the clear leaders of this team. While he’s averaging a solid 9.7 points per game, his less-than-average start was highlighted by the performance against Dayton. Hepburn was 1-of-10 from the field with 2 points, one assist, and three turnovers. Not only was his production low, but he also displayed a lack of leadership and couldn’t perform as one of the top players.
This performance spilled into the next day, where it took great games from his fellow starters to keep the Kansas contest close. It must be stated that his showing against USC was far better, and he has continued to be a huge asset on the defensive side of the ball. Chucky Hepburn will have to be better for this team to thrive this season.
Max Klesmit B
A new addition to the Badgers, Max Klesmit, has provided a massive jolt to the defensive side of the ball and performed admirably offensively. A transfer from Wofford, Klesmit has fit well into the starting lineup and has added much-needed production shooting the ball. He is averaging 40% from the field and 46.7% from the 3-point arc. Perhaps his most important contribution, though, was a block with 3 seconds left on the clock against Dayton to help seal the victory.
Jordan Davis B-
Stepping out of his brother’s shadow, Jordan Davis has moved into the starting lineup this season and has already become one of the team’s top defenders. His shooting can still improve as he is hitting just 23.8% of his three-point shots, a stat that will prove to haunt Davis if the number doesn’t tick upwards. His energy and effort are clear, and he will have to keep making strides to avoid potentially losing his spot in the starting rotation.
Tyler Wahl A-
Undoubtedly our star thus far this season has been none other than Tyler Wahl. Leading the team in points and rebounds, Tyler Wahl has also posted the second-highest steal total with 9. Wahl is averaging 14 points per game and is shooting nearly 38% from the field. He continues to lead the front line and shined brightest in the near comeback victory against Kansas, logging a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Tyler Wahl must continue his production and will be a key cog of this team as the season progresses. Why an A- instead of an A? Wahl also leads the team in turnovers with 16 on the season. If he takes care of the ball and keeps playing well in the paint, he will likely remain at the top of most statistical categories and lead this team to its height.
Steven Crowl C-
Steven Crowl, while somewhat productive offensively, has shown he has a great deal of room for improvement. The tallest member of the Badgers at 7’0″, Crowl needs to finish stronger at the rim and become a more dominant force inside the paint. He isn’t afraid to take the three as he continues to find himself open at the top of the key. The issue is success, as he is shooting just 25% from beyond the arc.
There’s no reason to think he won’t continue to be open, and in order for this team to be successful, Crowl will need to find the bottom of the net more often. His rebounding stats have been good, logging 43 rebounds, including 11 on the offensive side.
Connor Essegian A
The highest grade of the group goes to Connor Essegian, the newest Wisconsin Badgers Freshman out of Fort Wayne, IN.
Essegian has proven he isn’t afraid to take a shot…ever. His confidence with the rock is unmatched, and he has the production to prove it. He has taken a team-high 24 threes and made 54% of them while shooting 46% from the field. He has also shown defensive prowess, although this continues to remain an area of growth for him as he continues to learn Gard’s system. Connor is becoming a star before our eyes, and if his offensive production continues at this rate, look for him to make a move into Gard’s starting lineup.
Carter Gilmore B
The Badgers don’t have a great deal of depth at the forward position, but Carter Gilmore has shown he wants a place in the regular rotation. A man of all trades, Gilmore is doing the dirty work. He’s hustling on the floor, playing strong defense, and isn’t afraid to pull up from behind the 3-point line if necessary. Only Tyler Wahl and Chucky Hepburn have logged more steals than Gilmore, who has eight on the season. Gilmore should continue seeing minutes, and if his growth on the court matches his effort, the Badgers will see a nice return.
Isaac Lindsey B+
Isaac Lindsey has provided much-needed depth at the point guard position. While not originally expected to be a key contributor, Lindsey has come off the bench and given valuable minutes to a position proving to be a question mark for the Badgers. In just 38 minutes this season, Lindsey has taken 13 shots and is shooting 38.5%, including 33% from behind the arc. His minutes will continue to be key going forward. Look for Isaac Lindsey’s confidence to grow and his time on the court to slowly increase.
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