Wisconsin Basketball: Assigning Roles to Each Player on the 2014 Roster
As of right now, the Wisconsin basketball team is set to have 17 players on its roster for the 2013-14 season, and six of them are incoming freshmen.
With the Badgers losing three starting forwards and five players in all from a season ago, you have to figure that at least one of those freshmen will have a prominent role on next year's team.
Normally, head coach Bo Ryan is pretty strict with how much playing time he allots for his freshmen, so we'll see if another Sam Dekker comes along and makes an immediate impact.
Wisconsin is looking to build on its disappointing finish to the 2012-13 season when it exited the NCAA tournament after just one round. So, let's assign roles to each player on next season's roster.
Evan Anderson: Big-Man Specialist
Weight: 255 pounds
2012-13 Statistics: 3.2 MPG, 0.8 PPG, 57.1 FG%
Evan Anderson was a fairly intriguing prospect out of high school because of his size, but on the court, it looks like he's doing all he can to not trip over his own two feet, which are enormous by the way.
He received minutes sparingly last season as a sophomore, which would indicate that he is ready to take the next step forward and join Ryan's regular rotation. But with some talented forwards incoming, Anderson may just be relegated to limited minutes once again.
Look for him to get the occasional call when the opposing team has a big man giving the Badgers fits down low, or when Ryan is fed up with the performance of his regulars in the frontcourt.
Zach Bohannon: Occasional Contributor
Weight: 210 pounds
2012-13 Statistics: 4.7 MPG, 1.0 PPG, 1.4 RPG
After seeing the success older brother Jason enjoyed in Madison, Zach Bohannon made the decision to transfer to Wisconsin after two years with Air Force. He didn't have near the impact, however, and now has just one more year to make his presence felt with the Badgers.
Three starters from the frontcourt are gone, and that could open up some playing time for Bohannon. It all comes down to how much of a leap he can make during the offseason in terms of what he learned in his first season under Ryan.
He could develop into a spark-off-the-bench kind of player or even a three-point specialist, but what exactly his role will be depends a lot on what he's been able to pick up during his limited time as a Badger.
Vitto Brown: Versatile Role Player
Weight: 230 pounds
2012-13 Statistics (High school): 23.7 PPG, 13.0 PPG
You look at Vitto Brown's numbers from his senior season in high school and go "wow." At 230 pounds, his body is already Big Ten ready, and Brown will only continue to get stronger in college.
Brown can pick and pop and has a low-post game as well, while his length and athleticism make him a nuisance on defense and the boards.
It could come down to him and another highly touted forward recruit that we'll meet later on this slideshow for who receives legitimate minutes, but Brown should get time off the bench right away in a Badgers uniform.
Ben Brust: Spot-Up Knockdown Shooter
Weight: 195 pounds
2012-13 Statistics: 34.3 MPG, 11.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 38.9 3PT FG%
Ben Brust has some serious range and duplicated his efforts from beyond the arc from his sophomore season. There's no reason to believe Brust will lose that touch from outside anytime soon, and if anything, he should build on his consistency.
With a shortage of bodies at the guard position, he averaged over five minutes a game more than anyone else on the roster. His minutes per game should go down in his senior season but only because the Badgers will have much more depth in 2013-14.
Once again, Brust will start—seemingly in a three-guard lineup—and should always be considered a threat to launch from deep, but despite his small stature, he will also make some noise on the boards as an excellent rebounding guard.
Sam Dekker: The MVP
Weight: 220 pounds
2012-13 Statistics: 22.3 MPG, 9.6 PPG, 47.8 FG%, 39.1 3PT FG%
If Sam Dekker was the Badgers' best player in his freshman season, just imagine what he can do during his remaining three seasons at Madison—assuming he stays all four years.
It didn't take long for Ryan to realize what he had in Dekker, and he removed the freshman leash from him in the early going. Even still, the he probably deserved more minutes considering how much Wisconsin's three starting forwards struggled.
Dekker will assume a starting role next season and be Wisconsin's best player. He'll score in bunches, catch fire from outside and find different ways to score and have an impact on the game. When the Badgers are in a bind, Dekker will be the player Ryan turns to.
Duje Dukan: Benchwarmer
Weight: 210 pounds
2012-13 Statistics: Redshirted
Due to lingering effects from mono, Duje Dukan decided to use his redshirt during the 2012-13 season. It was quite possible that Dukan would enter Ryan's rotation, but his illness delayed his progress, so it was a wise move to sit out and save his eligibility.
The Croatian native brings your typical European basketball skill set to the table: good fundamentals, an ability to catch and shoot as well as score off the dribble and a solid ball-handler. It will come down to whether Dukan has improved his quickness and defensive ability.
He will have to battle just to see meaningful minutes and will likely have to accept a limited role as someone who enters the game during garbage time.
Josh Gasser: The Leader
Weight: 190 pounds
2012-13 Statistics: Redshirted
Like Dukan, Josh Gasser is coming off a redshirt season after he tore his ACL prior to the 2012-13 season. He was expected to assume the point guard role following Jordan Taylor's departure, but his injury forced the Badgers to scramble.
There's no doubt Wisconsin missed Gasser's productivity—he averaged 7.6 points and shot 45.2 percent from three during his sophomore season in over 34 minutes a game. Inconsistent guard play was the staple of the Badgers' 2012-13 campaign, and Gasser should add some much-needed stability to the backcourt.
Even though Traevon Jackson earned the distinction of starting point guard last season despite being a natural off-guard, Gasser will likely become the quarterback of Wisconsin's offense next season as he continues to work back to full strength during the offseason.
Nigel Hayes: First Forward Off the Bench
Weight: 210 pounds
2012-13 Statistics (High school): 16.2 PPG, 8.8 RPG
He always seems to find a way to score around the basket and can also face up and knock down the mid-range jump shot. Hayes is also an excellent shot-blocker and a decent passer for his size.
As noted before, he will battle with fellow freshman Vitto Brown to see who gets decent minutes, but Hayes appears to have a better all-around game, and that should result in him being the first forward off the bench next season.
Traevon Jackson: Creator
Weight: 213 pounds
2012-13 Statistics: 27.8 MPG, 6.9 PPG, 2.8 APG
Traevon Jackson went from off-the-bench off-guard to starting point guard in a hurry following Josh Gasser's torn ACL, and therefore, Jackson was forced into a learn-on-the-fly situation.
There were certainly some frustrating moments along the way, but all in all, he transitioned pretty well into his new role and made some big shots throughout the season thanks to his strength and ability to create for himself.
With the speculation that the Badgers will switch to a three-guard lineup next season, Jackson should remain in the starting lineup but return to his normal position of off-guard. However, because he knows how to penetrate the defense, he should be expected to create for his teammates as well be someone who has the ball in his hands here and there with the shot clock winding down.
Think of Wisconsin as basically having two point guards on the court at once.
Frank Kaminsky: Inside-Out Big Man
Weight: 230 pounds
2012-13 Statistics: 10.3 MPG, 4.2 PPG, 43.9 FG%
Hopefully Frank Kaminsky is ready for a big increase in minutes, because he'll be jumping from spelling Wisconsin's starting forwards to becoming a starting forward.
The Badgers lost a lot of experience at the forward position, and all of a sudden, Kaminsky is the most tenured member of the frontcourt. When given an opportunity to play more than his typical 10 minutes a game, he showed signs of brilliance, especially in a matchup at Illinois.
Kaminsky has a nice touch from outside and can also score from the post position, but he'll need to get bigger during the offseason so he isn't worn down from his increased minutes and the physical play of the Big Ten.
Bronson Koenig: The Sixth Man
Weight: 180 pounds
2012-13 Statistics (High school): 17.3 PPG, 4.0 APG
After committing to Wisconsin what feels like several years ago, Bronson Koenig is finally ready to make his presence felt in Madison. Rivals gives him a 4-star rating while ESPN pegs him as a 3-star prospect.
Koenig's a true point guard who has incredible vision and great handles. As a point guard, it's important to be able to shoot off the dribble—he certainly can, as well as catch and shoot.
He's athletic, and based on his selection as the top senior defensive player in the WSN Senior Boys Basketball awards, he improved his defense during his senior season after scouts knocked him.
For all of the reasons listed above, Koenig will be the next Sam Dekker and earn a considerable amount of minutes as the first player to come off the bench in his freshman season.
George Marshall: Three-Point Shooter Off the Bench
Weight: 185 pounds
2012-13 Statistics: 15.8 MPG, 4.1 PPG, 36.8 3PT FG%
Following Gasser's season-ending injury, it was between George Marshall and Traevon Jackson for who would take over as the starting point guard last season.
Jackson eventually won out, and Marshall was relegated to a role player off the bench.
Marshall needs to work on his ability to create his own shot and penetrate the defense, although he does have a nice outside shot.
With Gasser returning and the talented Koenig joining the Badgers, Marshall's role will remain largely unchanged as a player who comes off the bench and tries to create a spark with his three-point shooting.
Zak Showalter: Occasional Contributor
Weight: 195 pounds
2012-13 Statistics: 6.7 MPG, 1.7 PPG, 37.9 FG%
In case you haven't noticed by now, Josh Gasser's ACL tear had quite the chain reaction. Zak Showalter was also affected, but in a good way, as he received playing time that he otherwise wouldn't have seen in his freshman year.
That playing time was not only a result of Gasser's injury, but because Showalter's best attribute was his defense. Unfortunately, he struggled mightily on the offensive end and turned the ball over too much, which resulted in diminished minutes down the stretch.
Those minutes might be even more limited this season with no contributing guards graduating, combined with Gasser's return. That said, Showalter taking a redshirt could be a wise, yet unrealistic, move.
Jordan Smith: Benchwarmer
Weight: 175 pounds
2012-13 Statistics: 2.1 MPG, 0.7 PPG, 30.0 FG%
Assuming Bo Ryan eventually settles on an eight-man rotation by the time Big Ten conference play rolls around, Jordan Smith will join Anderson, Bohannon, Dukan, Showalter and the loser of the Hayes/Brown battle on the bench next season.
As we mentioned before, some of these players will see the court here and there in meaningful situations, but that likely won't be the case for Dukan and Smith.
Scouts deem Smith a good outside shooter with a high basketball IQ, but he will be stuck on the end of the bench for a third consecutive year.
G: Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson, Ben Brust
F: Sam Dekker, Frank Kaminsky
G: Bronson Koenig
G: George Marshall
F: Nigel Hayes, Vitto Brown
G: Zak Showalter
F: Evan Anderson, Zach Bohannon
G: Jordan Smith
F: Duje Dukan
G: Riley Dearring, Jordan Hill
F: Aaron Moesch