The Wisconsin basketball 2023-24 season is right around the corner for Greg Gard and the Badgers, with their campaign set to commence in a week against UW-Stevens Point at the Kohl Center.
After a disappointing 2022 season that saw the Badgers miss the NCAA Tournament for the second time in over two decades, there are plenty of reasons for optimism surrounding the program.
The Badgers have maintained much of their core this season, with all key rotational players returning from the previous season, excluding Jordan Davis — who is now at Illinois State.
Wisconsin basketball also added St. Johns forward A.J. Storr through the transfer portal and welcomed a talented 2023 recruiting class consisting of freshmen Nolan Winter, Gus Yalden, and John Blackwell.
With the prospect of a deeper team for the Badgers, questions arose about how the freshmen would potentially fit in, with Coach Greg Gard telling reporters during Media Day that it was “open season” on minutes.
Wisconsin Basketball Freshman Nolan Winter Expected to Be Core Member of Rotation.
However, some transparency has emerged regarding one particular freshman. According to a report from NCAA Insider Jon Rothstein, Nolan Winter has firmly secured his place in the Wisconsin basketball rotation following a conversation with head coach Greg Gard.
— Jack Robison (@JackRobison17) October 25, 2023
The report also indicates that Coach Gard views Winter in his top eight players and potentially even his top seven.
Although it’s not explicitly stated in the report, Wisconsin’s top six, in no particular order, are Chucky Hepburn, Max Klesmit, Connor Essegian, Tyler Wahl, Steven Crowl, and AJ Storr.
Coach Gard has shown a willingness to give freshmen consistent playing time in recent seasons. Look no further than Johnny Davis, Hepburn, and Essegian as examples.
This development is even more encouraging when you consider how thin Wisconsin basketball was in the front-court behind Wahl and Crowl last season. Carter Gilmore was forced to play the backup five minutes, giving up a lot of size to opposing big men.
Given the athleticism that Winter has shown reporters in both practice and a standout Red-White scrimmage performance, it’s clear he has the tools to move laterally with fours and fives on defense. That should allow him to see meaningful minutes behind both of the starting bigs.
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