Possible 2017-18 starting five:
F: Nate Reuvers (freshman)
F: Ethan Happ
Who is lost: Greg Gard is bidding farewell to a successful and talented senior quartet that went to two Final Fours during their time in Madison. Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes went from impact bench players as freshmen to quality secondary weapons as sophomores to go-to guys as juniors and seniors. Koenig could play both on or off the ball and was a prolific shooter from 3-point range. Hayes changed his game a few times during his four years in college but ended up as a versatile frontcourt piece who could score inside and out and also create for others. Vitto Brown saw his role increase the past two seasons and was a key piece in the Badgers’ frontcourt. Lastly, Zak Showalter started as a junior and senior, and though he was never a big scorer, he made shots from the perimeter and took some of the pressure off Koenig.
Who is added: Gard has a top-40 recruiting class coming to Madison next season, led by ESPN 100 forward Nate Reuvers. Reuvers, who could push to start immediately, should fit into the Badgers’ style very well. He is very skilled for his 6-foot-10 size and can run the floor and knock down open shots from inside and outside the arc. He is joined in the 2017 class by four-star guards Kobe King and Brad Davison. King is an in-state prospect who should be able to be a role player quickly due to his basketball IQ and ability to do a little bit of everything. Davison was a big-time high school scorer and can shoot from the perimeter. Wing forward Aleem Ford redshirted this past season, but he had a big senior season of high school and reportedly impressed during his redshirt campaign.
What it means for next season: Wisconsin will be replacing nearly its entire starting lineup, but the lone returnee, Ethan Happ, is a great place to begin. Happ was one of the best frontcourt players in the country this past season, though his production tailed off toward the end of the regular season. He’s very efficient offensively, and he rebounds at both ends. He’ll have to carry the Badgers next season. Gard will also look to some bench players to play bigger roles next season, namely guards D’Mitrik Trice and Brevin Pritzl and forward Khalil Iverson. Trice and Iverson played consistent roles, while Pritzl saw extended minutes when Koenig was out of the lineup with injury.
Trending:Down. The last remnants of Wisconsin’s back-to-back Final Four appearances are out the door, and it’s time for Gard to get to work. It isn't going to be easy. Happ is a tremendous player, but several role players and newcomers will have to take major steps forward.