Madison, Wis. — In the ever-changing landscape of the college basketball transfer portal, staying disciplined and addressing needs rather than swinging for the fence only to be left empty-handed is essential. And this offseason, that’s what the Wisconsin basketball program is doing.
“You have a decent idea of what we need and how we need to improve our team,” Gard told UW reporters. “Some of that will come from incoming freshmen, some of that’s going to come from guys here getting better and getting bigger and stronger and the experience, and some will come through the portal.”
UW returns all five starters next season, who combined to average 55.7 points per game, which was 85.3% of the Badgers scoring. The program also brings back 92% of its scoring and 88.9% of its rebounding.
So improving on the margins and adding depth is what Wisconsin basketball needs to right the ship entering 2023-24.
After finishing the season with a loss in the NIT semi-finals and a 20-15 record, Wisconsin’s head coach knew the roster needed a few tweaks.
“I think we have to add depth regardless (of internal development),” Gard said. “I’m not naïve. We have to get bigger, more experienced, stronger, more athletic, whatever you want to throw out there.”
Wisconsin Badgers Offseason Notes
One of the key areas Wisconsin went into the offseason needing to address was bench depth and scoring in the backcourt. When junior guard Jordan Davis, the team’s top-scoring reserve, entered the transfer portal, that need became even more glaring.
Outside of Kamari McGee, who showed flashes, and Isaac Lindsey, UW had no obvious candidates to fill that role internally. So, Greg Gard and the coaching staff worked quickly to get Wyoming transfer Noah Reynolds on campus and landed a commitment shortly after that.
This past season, Reynolds averaged 14.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists on 48.1% shooting from the field in 25 minutes per game. He should immediately provide meaningful minutes off the bench at both guard spots and add a much-needed scoring option.
Another area Wisconsin wanted to address was the addition of a more prototypical small forward with defensive versatility. That box got checked off when the Badgers landed a commitment from St. Johns transfer AJ Storr.
Storr made the Big East All-Freshman team after averaging 8.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 0.9 assists on an impressive 40.4% shooting from beyond the arc in just over 21 minutes per game for the Red Storm.
He’s a lanky wing with well above-average athleticism that can slash/finish around the rim. The former four-star recruit can also step out and knockdown three’s at an impressive clip, plus get you a bucket playing iso-ball when the shot clock is winding down.
Wisconsin Basketball Is Shifting Its Attention to the Frontcourt
The last area Wisconsin basketball may need to address is in their frontcourt, specifically in the low post after UW struck out last offseason in search of a backup center/stretch 4.
While adding another big man would undoubtedly improve the roster, Greg Gard may be content with his recent additions (which would be perfectly understandable) and instead focus on playing defensive matchups and making it work on that end of the floor.
So the question becomes…
If Wisconsin basketball is out of scholarships (right now, that appears to be the case), would Coach Gard consider recruiting over someone to fill that need? Because as it stands, UW isn’t expecting any additional players to enter the portal (that could obviously change).
UW’s roster could use an experienced/serviceable 10-15 minute reserve big to play behind Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl, but after recent additions, I’d argue it’s not as important. That’s because the Badgers are in a great spot when you consider incoming freshmen Gus Yalden and Nolan Winter are incredibly talented and can push Carter Gilmore for those minutes.
Is it worth stunting their growth and development to fill a less glaring need with the new influx of talent?
I know that Wisconsin basketball is still active in the portal, and have reached out to Northwestern’s Robbie Beran, so they’re certainly open to another addition if they find the right fit.
How coach Gard handles the remainder of the offseason/roster management will be an interesting situation to monitor.
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