Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Position Preview: Guards
Badgers Head Coach Greg Gard faces the difficult responsibility of replacing both his starting guards from last season with the graduation of seniors Bronson Koenig and Zak Showalter. Luckily Gard will have plenty of talent to choose from as he determines his backcourt for the upcoming season. Who are the top candidates poised to make an immediate impact? Who will be able to fill the shoes of top scorer Bronson Koenig? All of your questions will be answered below by my player analysis and predictions for the upcoming season.
#0 D’Mitrik Trice (Sophomore)
2016-17 Statistics @ Wisconsin:
5.6 (PPG) / 1.7 (APG) / 1.9 (RPG) / 41.8% (3PT%) / 37 GP / 18.3 MPG
Sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice returns to Madison with a lot of pressure on him as it appears Coach Greg Gard is ready to give him the keys to the Badgers point guard position. Trice looks to continue the lineage of steady point play for the Badgers over the last decade that’s included Jordan Taylor, Traevon Jackson, and Bronson Koenig. He seems poised to take control after having an impressive Freshman campaign in which he was the first guard off the bench on a talented squad that was one shot away from reaching the Elite Eight. His role on the Badgers this season is important with the team looking to replace four out of their top five scorers from last season. Trice showed last year that he is capable to fill it up from three having consistently knocked down the long ball shooting a team high 41.8%. It is imperative that Trice become the leader of the Badgers and holds everyone accountable as the floor general. Trice needs to show what he learned from Bronson Koenig, such as being aggressive in pick-n-roll scenarios to continue to give Ethan Happ one-on-one match ups. Trice needs to take control of the offense early in the season by finding the open man while being an opportunistic scorer.
#1 Brevin Pritzl (Redshirt Sophomore)
2016-17 Statistics @ Wisconsin:
1.9 (PPG) / 0.1 (APG) / 1.1 (RPG) / 34.2% (FG%) / 24 GP / 8.8 MPG
Brevin Pritzl may be the single most underrated player returning for the Badgers in the 17-18 season. Pritzl earned more playing time as the season developed last year by making hustle plays and knocking down timely shots. An elite scorer who started his senior season of high school as a Top 50 recruit (scout.com), is finally showing confidence in the offensive game that led him to Madison. Pritzl’s will thrive if he becomes this team’s Ben Brust, who made his mark for the Badgers by being a consistent “3 & D” player. Being able to knock down the three with one of the best passing big men in the NCAA Ethan Happ, will be a skill that is crucial to maximize potential for this team today and in the future. During the 2017 Australia/New Zealand tour the Badgers went on, Pritzl lit it up from three shooting 66.7% (14/21) while averaging 11.7 PPG. Pritzl needs to take this summer’s momentum to become a leader in the locker room and the stat sheet being one of few returning players with NCAA game experience.
#34 Brad Davison (Freshman)
2016-17 Statistics @ Maple Grove High School:
24.4 (PPG) / 7.9 (APG) / 7.4 (RPG) / 4.2 (SPG)
Coach Gard must have been in high spirits when he received the information that four-star recruit and Minnesota AP All-State 1st team Brad Davison committed his talents to the Badgers. Davison’s commitment shows proof that Wisconsin is becoming a top choice for elite national prospects. The 2016 Star Tribune (Minn.) Metro Player of the Year can simply do it all as he led his high school team to a 28-4 record finishing as Maple Grove’s all-time leader in points, assists, steals, field goals, threes, and free throws. Davison will immediately contribute his winning pedigree to the Badgers rotation, and be asked to take some of the scoring load from Happ and Trice. The transition should be easy from high school to college because Davison will not be asked to average 20+ points per game with better talent around him. Davison can have real impact if he can knock down open threes while playing within the Badgers offense. If Brad continues to develop in the coming years you may see him become one of the Badger’s leading scorers when he and other incoming Top-100 commits are running the show for the next four years.
#12 Trevor Anderson (Sophomore Walk-On Redshirt Transfer: UW-Green Bay)
2016-17 Statistics @ UW-Green Bay:
9.8 (PPG) / 2.7 (APG) / 2.9 (RPG) / 40% (FG%) / 37.6% (3PT%)
Trevor Anderson is not your ordinary walk-on, the redshirt transfer and 2016 Wisconsin Mr. Basketball realized that his skills were on par for a high-level D1 program after his freshman campaign for the mid-major UW-Green Bay Phoenix. Anderson will be required to sit out the upcoming season due to his transfer from UW-Green Bay. Anderson is one of the most celebrated high school basketball players in the history of Wisconsin. Trevor led Stevens Point Area High School (SPASH) to a 100-6 record over his four-year career. Anderson is a three-time WBCA first team all-state performer and the eighth leading scorer in the history of Wisconsin high school hoops (2,360). Anderson will sit this year and will have three years of eligibility once he steps on the floor next season, upon his return Anderson is a candidate to earn a scholarship in the next few years. The Stevens Point product, an extremely efficient point guard that isn’t afraid to take and make the big shot brings excitement for the Badgers future. Anderson has an uncanny ability to make the intelligent play with the ball, his intelligence emerges in transition when dishing it off to a teammate using his elite level vision. If Anderson feels that the numbers aren’t in his favor he can pull it back and allow the secondary offensive break to occur. Badgers fans should feel great knowing they will be deep in talent with Prizil, Trice, Anderson, and Davison for years to come.
Coach Greg Gard will have an easy job this season determining minutes from the deep group of guards. Performances early in the season will determine the rotation of the unit. It appears, based on the teams Australia/New Zealand trip, that D’Mitrik Trice will be the starter at the point guard position. Trice needs to realize that this is his opportunity to show potential as the future point guard of the Badgers, as there are other options incoming the next few years including Trevor Anderson who will be eligible to play after this season. The off-guard position is something that will be determined by who can knock down shots, with that being said, I believe the job is Brad Davison’s to take if he wants it. With the Badgers looking to replace a large percentage of their offense from last season, Davison’s ability to score in bunches from deep and intermediate range may be the injection of offense the team needs to be successful. Brevin Pritzl will be given the opportunity to start at the off-guard position early in the season if Davison doesn’t impress immediately. It is important that Pritzl accepts his role on the team no matter what transpires this season because he will be asked to contribute no matter where he is placed in the rotation. There will be competition for the guards of the future starting this season, and it will heat up next year even more so with the arrival of 2018 Top 100 recruit SG Tyler Herro who seems to be ready to make some noise upon his arrival in Madison.