This class might always be remembered as the class that lost Tyler Herro and failed to land Joey Hauser, but the Badgers are still bringing in three players on scholarship. (albeit one is grayshirting so he will walk-on next season, but be on scholarship for the rest of his collegiate career) The Badgers had no immediate needs with this class, but based on who they offered wanted to get a couple of big men (especially with the news of Van Vliet’s departure) and a guard, in the end they got two big men and a guard. At the end of the 2018-19 season four Badgers will graduate from the team: Charlie Thomas, Alex Illikainen, Khalil Iverson, and Ethan Happ. Before I dive into the recruits one note about recruiting ranks, Frank Kaminsky and Ethan Happ were both All-Americans in college, Kaminsky was ranked 242nd in the country by 247’s composite and Happ was ranked 152nd. Players frequently outplay their ranks, especially the ones who stay all four years and develop under good coaching. With that in mind let us dive into the Wisconsin Freshman class of 2018.
The thing that is most striking about Hedstrom is his size, a lot of high school prospects listed heights feel generous, but Hedstrom is truly a massive human being. He moves pretty well for his size, but strikes any observer as the type of guy who will thrive once he gets in a college program for strength and athletic training. While his height indicates good size, he definitely needs to put on strength to compete in the Big Ten. In his highschool season he got bullied on the glass a few games and just does not look as dominant as someone his size should be in high school basketball. Luckily for the Badgers he has agreed to grayshirt and will likely use that year to improve from both a body composition and a skill standpoint. In highschool he was mainly asked to set screens and roll to the rim which he did well, but the Badgers under Gard and Bo Ryan have enjoyed success with bigs who can post up a few possessions a game. Hedstrom will get to practice against Ethan Happ for a year, which Badger fans are hoping will benefit Hedstrom, like Happ benefited from practicing against Kaminsky.
If Hedstrom is skinny, Currie is rail-thin, Currie will also likely redshirt this year as he reclassified from 2019 into the class of 2018. Though this is yet to be confirmed and will likely depend on how camp goes this fall before the season starts, despite being so skinny Clarkson has been a productive rebounder in AAU and HS averaging close to double digit boards across both of his careers. Currie also has a much more progressed offensive game than most big men that are ranked where he is nationally. He has shown the ability to step out and hit threes, has a nice fadeaway game, can pop up in the mid range, and cuts well. His biggest issue is that he currently cannot finish strong, whenever he plays guys his size he will struggle to finish against length at the rim. For comparison sake he is much skinnier than Nate Reuvers was at Wisconsin this season and Reuvers struggled immensely and was close to redshirting. Now a year later Reuvers looks poised to breakout after adding weight and strength to his frame. Currie could be in a similar situation at this time next year.
Strickland is your classic late blooming prospect when he started high school he was 5’3”. Now, standing at 6’2” with great athleticism, he is an entirely different prospect than he was for most of his high school career. Watching his senior mixtape you see dunks and shot making ability not common for 3* guards ranked in the 300s nationally. In an interview with Cream City Central last spring, Strickland said that his biggest strength as a basketball player is being able to do everything on the basketball court. Simply put he brings something to the Badgers that the current roster did not previously have: an elite athlete at guard who can get by guys using his speed. Strickland averaged about 17 points a game his senior year, when you watch his highlights a lot of that comes by getting to the rim and finishing over bigger defenders, but also through a healthy dose of jump shooting. His shooting will likely be the area he gets the most coaching on, but he is by no means deficient in that department. As a result of his well-rounded game I think Strickland will contribute this year to the Badgers guard rotation. We saw last year that the Badgers lack of depth there hurt them, but this year it could turn into an area of strength as they add Strickland and Trevor Anderson, as well as return Kobe King and D’mtrik Trice from injury.