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3 reasons to be optimistic about Wisconsin Basketball 2024-2025

A few months have passed since the end of the basketball and college basketball seasons in Wisconsin. The transfer portal made the news for some time. Players left for NIL deals to other universities. Wisconsin basketball was fortunate to keep their core and add AJ Storr last season. This year, however, they were not so lucky.

The Badgers lost Storr to Kansas and point guard Chucky Hepburn to Louisville. Greg Gard was able to replace these players in Cameron Hunter, Xavier Amos and John Tonje, all from the portal. This year’s team will look very different, but there are reasons to be optimistic.

Wisconsin Basketball will have three productive players starting

Wisconsin Badgers Xavier Amos
November 6, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Marquette Golden Eagles guard Stevie Mitchell (4) drives for the basket around Northern Illinois Huskies forward Xavier Amos (13) during the second half at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve said this before this offseason and I’ll say it again: Greg Gard didn’t bench three transfer players. He didn’t do that with AJ Storr either. Hunter, Amos and Tonje should and probably will all start to at least start the season.

Hunter didn’t play last season but averaged 17 points per game with Central Arkansas in 2022-23. He’s also a good floor general. I’m not saying Hunter will be better than Hepburn, but I think Wisconsin basketball will be in good hands with Hunter, who has two years of eligibility remaining.

I’m curious to see what Xavier Amos brings this year. He had a solid year at Northern Illinois last year, averaging just under 14 points per game on nearly 50% shooting from the field. This also includes almost 39% of three. Amos also scored 26 points at Northwestern, a place where scoring is tough.

Tonje was limited to eight games at Missouri last year due to injury, but he scored nearly 15 points per game in his final season at Colorado State two years ago. He is also a 39% three-point shooter.

A big Chuck from last year’s core is still there

Wisconsin Basketball
March 16, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Steven Crowl (22) celebrates his dunk against the Purdue Boilermakers during the second half at Target Center. Mandatory credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Replacing Storr, Hepburn and Tyler Wahl won’t be easy. However, Wisconsin basketball does return Max Klesmit, Steven Crowl, John Blackwell and Nolan Winter. Add Kamari McGee and you have five players to add to your rotation. With the three transfers, it’s a pretty decent eight-man rotation.

Wisconsin basketball could add another player at some point, but Markus Ilver or Carter Gilmore will also see limited action. It will take some time to get used to seeing some new faces, but Gard and his staff have done a good job replacing the players who have left.

Young players ready to break out

Wisconsin Basketball
March 16, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard John Blackwell (25) shoots while Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) defends during the second half at Target Center. Mandatory credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

John Blackwell and Nolan Winter are poised to make sophomore leaps. Few saw Blackwell step in right away, averaging eight points per game while shooting 45% from three. Blackwell has all over the Big Ten this season. We also didn’t see many first-year mistakes among the freshman guard. He can be a special player.

If Winter takes the step we expect him to, he will be a nightmare because of his ability to stretch big men and shoot the ball behind the three. He had his moments as a freshman, but I think he’s also making a sophomore leap for Wisconsin basketball.

It’s hard to see what role Daniel Freitag will play as a freshman, but we do know he will play and have his moments. Freitag has the skill and ability to break out right away as a freshman.

For more great Wisconsin sports content

Follow me on Twitter at @DylanBuboltz and follow us @WiSportsHeroics for more great content. To read more of our articles and stay up to date on the latest in Wisconsin sports news, Click here! Also take a look at our merchandise store for great WSH merchandise!


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