Madison, Wis. — Much of the disdain from the fanbase this offseason is centered around the need for Greg Gard and the Wisconsin basketball team to land another big man in the transfer portal.
The Badgers return a strong core of players in the frontcourt, including multi-year starters Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl. While some fans may be concerned about the team’s depth down low, there are several reasons why coach Gard and the Badgers don’t need to add another big man via the transfer portal.
First and foremost, both Wahl and Crowl will continue playing big minutes and provide meaningful contributions on both ends of the court.
Wahl, a 6-foot-9 forward, started in all 32 games he appeared in last season and averaged 11.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. He was also third on the team in steals, with 39 on the season. And Crowl, a 7-foot center, started in all 35 games, averaging 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game.
While those numbers may not jump off the page, each player showed flashes of the ability to take over games throughout the season and figures to take on a similar, or in the case of Crowl, a more prominent role in the upcoming season. At worst, the duo is incredibly dependable and needs a complimentary piece or two to endure the grind of a Big Ten season.
Wisconsin Badgers In-house Options in the Frontcourt
In addition to the starting tandem of Wahl and Crowl, the Wisconsin basketball team also returns senior forward Carter Gilmore. The former walk-on (might be a walk-on again, thank NIL) gained plenty of experience last season, logging minutes at both the “4” and “5.”
Gilmore, a 6-foot-7 forward, appeared in 35 games, starting three, and averaged 2.6 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, filling in for roughly 19 minutes per contest. Although he offered limited upside on the offensive end, he finished the season with a 0.4 PRPG, according to Barttorvik.
The in-state product proved he could play a valuable role off the bench. He took care of the ball, rebounded, played excellent post-defense, and acted as a connector.
However, Gilmore is best suited for a smaller, spark plug-type roll off the bench, filling in for 10 or fewer minutes a contest.
Markus Ilver is someone that could push for minutes if he improves his strength in the offseason, and Chris Hodges is someone I simply don’t think has what it takes to play at this level.
Which brings me to my next point…
Wisconsin Basketball Will Have More Talent/Options in 2023-24
Perhaps most importantly, people forget that Greg Gard and the Wisconsin basketball program have some talented incoming freshmen with the size and skill to contribute right away and should boost the Badgers’ frontcourt.
Gus Yalden and Nolan Winter, top 150 talents in the 2023 recruiting class, are further along in their respective developments than initially thought. Each has inside-out ability and a more developed skill set than the reserve bigs Wisconsin basketball had last season.
Yalden is someone who I expect will make an immediate impact for the Badgers, particularly in the low-post, and Winter is an athletic big that can stretch the floor.
All you want to fill is 10-20 competent minutes behind Crowl and Wahl if you’re coach Gard. The incoming freshman can fill that void and help them get their feet wet before stepping into more prominent roles in year two.
Adding another big man if it was someone who doesn’t elevate the program next season doesn’t do anything other than stunt the growth of the incoming recruits. Adding a 7-foot rim protector like Chris Vogt would help the team, but it’s unnecessary, IMO.
I fully expect one or both incoming frontcourt players to hit the ground running and provide depth, + push for the minutes asap.
Final Thoughts on Wisconsin Basketball + Its Frontcourt Situation
While some may be concerned about the Wisconsin basketball program’s depth in the frontcourt, there are several reasons why coach Gard and his staff don’t need to rush to add another big man in the transfer portal.
With Wahl, Crowl, Gilmore, and the incoming freshmen Yalden and Winter, the Badgers have a solid group of players who can help them contribute now while grooming their younger players for the future. If it’s the right fit, take a chance on a guy. I’m pro anything that improves the team, but I don’t think it’s an absolute must.
Fans should be excited about the upcoming season and the potential of this talented team because they’re returning all of their core players, added AJ Storr, and have a rock solid incoming 2023 recruiting class.
It’s okay to be a glass-half-full guy from time to time.
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