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Wisconsin Basketball: The No. 1 Reason Greg Gard Should Stay in 2023



Wisconsin basketball; Badgers coach Greg Gard

The 2022-23 Wisconsin basketball season has been less than memorable, to say the least.

The Badgers missed the NCAA Tournament for the second time since 1998 after finishing with a 17-14 record while going 9-11 in conference play. UW did accept an invitation to the NIT, where they secured a No. 2 seed.

Although this season was disappointing, the calls to fire Gard are a bit premature, especially when so much of Wisconsin’s future hangs in the balance. With the Badgers pursuing some top recruits in the 2024 class, a decision to move on would jeopardize the future of the Wisconsin basketball program. 

A look at the Wisconsin basketball program’s top recruiting targets

The Badgers are currently chasing after some top dogs in the 2024 class. Players including Kon Knueppel, Daniel Freitag, and Nick Janowski are the top choices, and all three players are four-star recruits.

Knueppel, a Milwaukee native, was seen at the Badgers’ senior night game against Purdue as Wisconsin has continued to stay in the running for the four-star forward. According to the 247Sports Composite, Knueppel is the No. 49 player in the country in the 2024 class. On top of that, he’s the No. 15 small forward in the class and the No. 1 player in Wisconsin. 

Janowski is another in-state recruit the Badgers are chasing, and they’re among the four-star prospect’s top choices. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound shooting guard is the No. 96 player in the class, the No. 21 SG, and the No. 2 ranked player in Wisconsin. Janowski holds an offer from Marquette and Big Ten offers from Nebraska and Iowa.

Freitag, who Luke Fickell recently offered a scholarship, is Wisconsin’s other top target. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound point guard is the No. 1 player in Minnesota. He also ranks No. 57 nationally and is the No. 7 point guard in the 2024 class.

Freitag seems to be in reach for UW, as he told Badger Notes in January, “Wisconsin was my first offer, which I do not take likely. They’ve also shown seriousness in how much they want me by not offering any other point guards.” 

Although he has yet to decide which sport he will play at the collegiate level, Freitag seems to be within reach for Gard and company. If Wisconsin can land any of its top targets, it will be a win for the program. However, if UW decides to move on, there will be a real risk that they could fall out of the running.

Moving on from Gard brings future recruiting implications

Among Wisconsin basketball fans, one of the biggest gripes has been the subpar recruiting under Gard and not landing in-state talent. But when Gard has a chance to rectify that, calls for his replacement to be named have swirled. 

Put plainly, it would be unfair to Gard to kick him to the curb while actively trying to land these high-profile recruits. Gard’s staff has worked hard to stay in the three prospects’ top choices, and a coaching shakeup jeopardizes their efforts.

Sure, there is a conversation to be had about Gard’s recruiting during his time with the program. However, his staff has landed UW squarely in the running for some big-time prospects. If Gard does not land at least one of the top choices, it will be time to re-evaluate. However, pulling the trigger on a coach who is getting close to the finish line for these recruits is premature. 

The Wisconsin basketball program’s foundation has plenty of other cracks, but Gard will address those issues in the offseason. The 2023-24 season should be considered a make-or-break year for Gard. If Wisconsin fails to reach the NCAA Tournament again, it’s time for a change. However, now is not the time to make a drastic decision with so many future decisions hanging in the balance.

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Jake Maier is the managing editor and publisher at He has provided coaching and editorial support to numerous writers in his role, contributing significantly to the platform's growth. His expertise extends to Wisconsin Badgers football, basketball, and recruiting coverage. Jake's previous bylines can be found at Fansided and Wisconsin Sports Heroics.