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Wisconsin Basketball: Connor Essegian’s Injury Status + Gus Yalden Update

Injury concerns loom as the Badgers prepare to face Tennessee, plus a familiar face returns to the program.



Wisconsin Badgers Basketball head coach Greg Gard
Nov 6, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard looks on during the second half against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

Badgers shooting guard Connor Essegian is still nursing a back injury he suffered in the Wisconsin basketball team’s season-opening win against Arkansas State.

According to reports, he spent much of Wednesday’s practice under the watchful eyes of trainers. As it stands, Essegian’s status for Friday’s game against No. 9 Tennessee at the Kohl Center remains up in the air.

“He did a little bit today,” noted head coach Greg Gard told reporters. “We’ll see how he responds again tomorrow.”

Essegian played just under 5 minutes against Arkansas State, which led to increased roles for Isaac Lindsey and John Blackwell, who stepped up admirably in the absence of the injured guard.

Lindsey contributed eight points, two assists, and a block in 17 minutes of relief for Essegian. In addition, true freshman John Blackwell looked terrified in his collegiate debut, chipping in 12 points, four rebounds, and a steal. Should Essegian miss Friday’s contest, Wisconsin basketball is in a far better place than a year ago depth-wise to weather that loss.

Wisconsin Basketball Welcomes Gus Yalden Back After Leave of Absence 

On a more positive note, Wisconsin basketball freshman forward Gus Yalden, who took a brief leave of absence on Nov. 1, returned to practice on Wednesday, marking a crucial step in his reintegration into the team.

“Today is his first day back,” Gard confirmed. “Getting him back to practice was step one of what he is going through. We’re into game-prep mode, and I’ve got a pretty good idea of who I’m going to have on the floor. We’ll catch him up to speed as we can.”

It’s unlikely the 6-foot-9 big man will see minutes anytime soon for Wisconsin basketball, given that Nolan Winter is firmly entrenched in the rotation alongside Carter Gilmore and even Markus Ilver.

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Trevor Lovec is a freelance sports writer, correspondent, and a diehard Northern Iowa fan. He covers Wisconsin football & basketball, plus a little Badgers recruiting.