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Wisconsin Basketball: The Impact of AJ Storr’s Commitment



AJ Storr

Madison, Wis. – On Thursday night, the Wisconsin basketball program picked up a former top-100 recruit in the transfer portal. Former St. Johns guard AJ Storr took to Twitter to announce his commitment to the Badgers.

Storr is the second portal addition of the offseason, joining former Wyoming guard Noah Reynolds. 

Storr’s recruitment was not easy, as many schools were after him when he entered the transfer portal. However, UW rose to the top and secured the biggest recruiting win under Gard’s direction.

Here’s a look at how Storr’s commitment impacts Wisconsin as we look ahead to the 2023-24 season.

What skills does AJ Storr bring to the Wisconsin basketball program?

Storr is a very physically gifted athlete. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound guard has a large frame to pair with high-end athleticism that will make him an immediate contributor.

Last season at St. Johns, Storr averaged 8.8 points and 1.9 rebounds per game en route to a Big East All-Freshman Team nomination.

Looking at Storr’s tape, the kid can flat-out shoot. In his freshman season at St. Johns, Storr shot 43.4% from the field while hitting 40.4% of his shots from beyond the arc. The weak point of Wisconsin’s team last year was three-point shooting, and Storr fills that need arguably better than any other transfer target UW had on their radar.

Although Storr’s best skill set is his shooting, he’s also a well-rounded finisher. According to BartTrovik, Storr hit 56.1% of his shots at the rim last season. The Florida native’s frame allows him to be a giant slayer in the post, and he has a quick burst to get to the basket. 

The only drawback in his game is his defense; however, he’s by no means a bad defender. What he lacks in skill, he makes up for with his size. Storr won’t be a guy who guards the opposing team’s best defender, but he’ll be serviceable on that end of the court. 

The Badgers needed an athletic guy who could score from multiple levels, and it looks like they found their guy in Storr.

How does AJ Storr’s commitment affect the rotation?

As I said before, Storr will make an immediate impact and be a starter from day one. He’s a perfect fit in the backcourt, and having Chucky Hepburn alongside him will make Wisconsin’s backcourt one of the best in terms of talent. 

Wisconsin is returning all five starters, so it begs the question, who moves to the second unit? I think the clear pick here is Max Klesmit. 

If Klesmit moves to the bench, it’s an absolute luxury. Storr slots in nicely alongside Hepburn, Essegian, Wahl, and Crowl, and moving Klesmit to the bench bolsters the depth. 

If Klesmit moves into a sixth-man role, he’ll come off the bench with players like Kamari McGee, Noah Reynolds, Carter Gilmore, and others. Frankly, that’s a damn good second unit. Pair that with the 2023 class coming in, and Wisconsin will have a deep and exciting team next season.

Storr’s commitment was huge for Wisconsin in every conceivable way. Gard gets a massive win in the portal — a bad look for the “Fire Gard” crowd, but I digress –, and Wisconsin gets an immediate starter who can shoot the lights out AND has three years of remaining eligibility. What a move for Gard and company.

The Wisconsin basketball program might not be done yet in the portal, but they secured one of their biggest recruiting wins under Gard. Is it basketball season yet?

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Jake Maier on Twitter. @JakeJMaier.


Should Wisconsin Basketball Consider Hiring an Ace Recruiting Specialist?



Wisconsin Basketball coaching staff
Jan 7, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard watches his team play against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the second half at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Greg Gard has been at the helm of the Wisconsin basketball program since 2015, taking over for legendary coach Bo Ryan midway through the season.

Coach Gard has had a successful tenure thus far, leading the Badgers to six NCAA Tournament appearances in his first eight seasons, winning two Big Ten regular season titles and two league Coach of the Year awards.

However, one issue that has plagued Gard and his staff nationally is their inability to bring in high-end talent consistently.

While Gard is considered an elite talent evaluator, as evidenced by the success of players he recruited and played a hand in developing, like Jordan Taylor, Ethan Happ, Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, and Johnny Davis, he has struggled to close the deal on some of the top recruits in the country despite the programs early involvement.

It’s on Gard to ultimately close the deal with recruits, and he could certainly stand to be more aggressive, but it’s worth acknowledging that Wisconsin basketball could benefit from making a change on his coaching staff if the athletic department is willing to fork over the money.

Why Greg Gard Should Consider Making a Change on His Staff

First things first, I’m not suggesting any Wisconsin coach get fired because we’re privy to a select tidbit of information. We’re not present behind closed doors to know the coaches’ relationships with players or their role in developing some of the young talents.

That said, we have access to a small amount of Wisconsin basketball recruiting information from 247Sports that I found interesting + worth discussing.

Assistant coach Dean Oliver, who has been on staff since 2017, has secured a verbal commitment from four players (Taylor Currie, Lorne Bowman, Connor Essegian, and John Blackwell) that he served as the lead recruiter.

For comparison, associate head coach Joe Krabenhoft has landed 14 commits during that same time frame. And Sharif Chambliss, who is entering his third season on staff, has yet to secure a verbal commitment, although he’s made strong inroads in the Milwaukee metro area, which has tremendous value–especially in the 2025 in-state cycle.

Adding Context to the Wisconsin Basketball Recruiting Situation 

Now, the context in this situation is important because coach Oliver isn’t acting as the lead for players in traditional strongholds like Wisconsin and Minnesota. Instead, he’s communicating with players who often know very little about the program and would have to travel much further than Krabbenhoft’s targets to visit campus.

These assignments are certainly no easy task, but at the end of the day, if that’s your role, then you need to execute well enough for Coach Gard to get those recruits on campus for visits and have the chance to close on recruits.

Not saying that coach Chambliss should get a pass here because it’s time to start seeing some returns from him as well. Still, Dean Oliver hasn’t been able to bring in impact recruits outside of Connor Essegian consistently (I can’t emphasize enough how great of a find he was).

But I think it’s fair to say that from a fan perspective, you’d like to see more success from your assistants on the recruiting trail. Closing rates are unimportant without context, and we ultimately have no idea how good at recruiting anyone is or isn’t. Still, the more challenging assignments have led to few wins outside of more common recruiting areas.

Some Thoughts on Wisconsin Basketball Recruiting

Wisconsin Basketball coach Greg Gard

Mar 28, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard looks on during the first half against the North Texas Mean Green at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Suppose Wisconsin basketball decides it needs to allocate more resources to recruiting. In that case, I think Greg Gard would benefit significantly from prioritizing a coach outside his network, which has built a reputation as a top-notch recruiter.

Hiring an assistant coach known for his recruiting prowess could be the boost the Badgers need to elevate the program’s ceiling and work their way into the mix for some of the higher-ranked prospects in the country.

I firmly believe that Gard is an excellent in-game coach who gets the most production out of his players. Since taking over the Wisconsin basketball program, Gard has led the Badgers to the highest win total among Big Ten teams. He has also compiled the third most conference wins, despite averaging the No. 9 recruiting class in the B1G during that timeframe.

Still, his roster management and talent evaluations more recently have left the program with questionable depth and need an overall upgrade in talent from top to bottom.

Of course, bringing in a new assistant coach is not a guaranteed solution to Wisconsin basketball and its perceived recruiting woes. It will still be up to Gard and his staff to build relationships with recruits, sell them on the program, and close the deal.

Only time will tell if Greg Gard agrees and decides to make this move. Still, it’s certainly an idea worth considering because if Wisconsin can elevate its recruiting efforts even marginally, It could get the Badgers back on track and over the hump.

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Dillon Graff on Twitter @DillonGraff.

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Wisconsin Basketball News: Badgers Contact Transfer Center, Schedule Updates, More



Wisconsin Badgers Basketball
Madison, WI, USA. 27th Dec, 2017. A basketball lies on the court before the NCAA Basketball game between the Chicago State Cougars and the Wisconsin Badgers at the Kohl Center in Madison, WI. Wisconsin defeated Chicago State 82-70. John Fisher/CSM/Alamy Live News

It’s been a busy week for the Wisconsin basketball program, ladies and gents, but fear not because BadgerNotes can help get you back up to speed with a roundup of some important Badgers news you may have missed.

Wisconsin Badgers Contact a Transfer Portal Big Man 

Greg Gard and the Wisconsin basketball coaching staff have been quietly active in the transfer portal, searching for some frontcourt depth after Noah Reynolds flaked on the Badgers and backed out of his commitment. 

According to The Portal Report, UW contacted Mississippi State grad transfer center Will McNair Jr, who recently entered the transfer portal. Vanderbilt, Nebraska, Tulsa, Temple, Georgetown, Western Kentucky, George Washington, UTEP, and several others are also in the mix. 

The 6-foot-10, 265-pound center averaged 3.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks while shooting 45.2% from the field in roughly 12 minutes per game for the Bulldogs.

McNair has 116 games of collegiate experience and is coming off a season where he finished with a 91.6 ORTG and a 0.2 PRPG, per Barttorvik, which would have been eighth on the Badgers this past season.

Wisconsin basketball has one scholarship left to fill this offseason and is kicking the tires on transfer portal depth at center who can rebound and protect the paint in a limited role next season. 

Wisconsin Basketball Has a Brutal Non-Conference Schedule

There is no right or wrong way to construct a non-conference schedule in college basketball. However, Wisconsin basketball is taking the road less traveled and scheduling one of the toughest groupings in the country ahead of an even more difficult Big Ten slate. 

Here’s a look at the games know will be on the schedule next season thus far: 

  • November 10: vs. Tennessee at the Kohl Center. 
  • November 14: Gavitt Games on the road vs. Providence
  • November 20 (Fort Myers Tip-Off): vs. SMU, Virginia, and West Virginia. 
  • November 22: Fort Myers Tip-Off continued. 
  • December 9: on the road vs. Arizona
  • I also feel comfortable saying that Marquette will be on the non-conference schedule; it just hasn’t been announced yet. 

Given the NCAA selection committee rewarding or completely discrediting strength of schedule last season, it’s fair to wonder if Greg Gard’s decision is a good call. That said, Wisconsin basketball returns a veteran roster and will be among the most battle-tested teams in the country come March.  

As it stands, BarTorvik has Tennessee (2), Marquette (4), Arizona (15), West Virginia (22), and Providence (48) all ranked as preseason top 50 teams. Buckle up, Badger fans. 

Other Wisconsin Basketball News

A source indicated to BadgerNotes and later confirmed that Greg Gard and the Wisconsin basketball program reached out to 2024 three-star power forward Dillon Battie out of Lancaster, Texas. 

Battie indicated that Gard reached out to him personally and told him he “really loves his game and sees how hard of a worker he is.” They also briefly discussed the Texas native coming out to visit campus. 

According to the 247Sports recruiting rankings, Battie is the No. 50 PF in the 2024 recruiting class and the No. 19 player in Texas. 

As it stands, the 6-foot-8 forward holds offers from Colorado State, Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Sam Houston State, SMU, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech. Auburn, Virginia Tech, Colorado, and Illinois have also been in contact. 

Wisconsin basketball has been selective in its 2024 offers, with Jackson McAndrew at the top of its wish list. However, it’s notable to see them casting a wider net and identifying a tendency breaker at the position who is a superb athlete with a back-to-the-basket skill set. 

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Dillon Graff on Twitter @DillonGraff.

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Why Wisconsin Basketball Doesn’t Need a Big Man From the Transfer Portal



Wisconsin basketball
Dec 6, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Steven Crowl (22) high-fives forward Tyler Wahl (5) during the first half against the Maryland Terrapins at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

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. 

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Dillon Graff on Twitter @DillonGraff.

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