2013-2014 Season Preview: No. 20 Wisconsin Badgers

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. The rest of our Top 25 Countdown can be found here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Last Season: 23-12, 12-6 Big Ten (t-4th); Lost to Ole Miss in the Round of 64

Head Coach: Bo Ryan (13th season at Wisconsin: 291-113 overall, 143-60 Big Ten)

Key Losses: Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz, Ryan Evans

Newcomers: Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Riley Dearring, Jordan Hill, Vitto Brown

Projected Lineup

G: Traevon Jackson, Jr.
G: Ben Brust, Sr.
G: Josh Gasser, Jr.
F: Sam Dekker, So.
C: Frank Kaminsky, Jr.
Bench: Bronson Koenig, Fr.; Nigel Hayes, Fr.; George Marshall, So.; Evan Anderson, Jr.; Zach Bohannon, Sr.; Zak Showalter, So.

They’ll be good because …: They always are. That’s simply how it works in Madison. Regardless of what happens during football season, Badger fans can rely on the fact that their basketball team is going to be good enough to compete for a Big Ten title. That’s just the way it is. If you’re a Big Ten hoops fan, the following stat won’t come as any surprise to you: Bo Ryan has been the head coach at Wisconsin for 12 years, and he’s never finished worse than fourth in the league in those 12 years despite the fact that the Badgers seemingly lose two or three “indispensable” pieces each spring.

You don’t really need an argument better than that one, but I’ll give it to you anyway: Sam Dekker. Dekker was a five-star recruit coming out of high school that was relegated to the bench in his first season with the Badgers. He still managed to averaged 9.6 points despite playing less than 23 minutes a night on a team that plays as slow a pace as anyone in the country. But Dekker, a 6-foot-7 wing with all the prerequisites (length, athleticism, handle, deep range), is good enough to be considered a sleeper to win Big Ten Player of the Year, which means that he’ll be good enough to carry the Badgers if, by some stroke of fate, Ryan can’t figure out a way to get Dekker’s supporting cast of no-names to look like all-league performers.

source:
AP

But they might disappoint because …: The Badgers really don’t have all that much size this year. Frank Kaminsky looks like he could end up being the next pick-and-pop big man to thrive in Ryan’s Swing Offense, but he averaged 4.2 points and 1.8 boards in 10 minutes last year. That’s solid production, but will it translate when he sees his minutes increase? And rest assured, his minutes will increase, because the Badgers don’t have any other proven assets in their front court. Nigel Hayes is a four-star recruit, but the 6-foot-7 forward is a lanky athlete that doesn’t really have the bulk to bang with the big boys just yet. Evan Anderson and Duje Dukan are big redshirt juniors that have been in the program since 2010 and played a combined 46 games in those three seasons.

There are some good big men in the Big Ten this season — Adreian Payne, Mitch McGary, A.J. Hammons, Noah Vonleh. How will the Badgers match up with them?

Outlook: I have complete and utter faith in Bo Ryan at this point. I can look at this roster and point out the holes — they don’t have enough size, their back court is flooded with little guards, the point guard spot will again be a question mark this season if Josh Gasser doesn’t return to form this season coming off of ACL surgery, they really don’t have a true four on their roster — and come February none of it will matter. It happens every year, and, as we noted earlier, every year that Bo Ryan has been at Wisconsin, he’s finished in the top four.

So yes, I agree with you. I look at this roster and very little about it screams to me “top 25 team”. But until Bo Ryan fails to finish in the top four of the Big Ten, he will find a spot in my preseason top 25. Because if you are one of the top four teams in the Big Ten, you are one of the top 25 teams in the country. That’s just how it works.

Two workouts this week could alter Caleb Swanigan’s NBA Draft decision

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Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan has the most important decision among any college basketball player who could return next season from the 2017 NBA Draft process. If Swanigan comes back for his junior season, he’s the frontrunner for National Player of the Year. More importantly, Purdue would have a serious chance to repeat as Big Ten regular season champions, especially if Vince Edwards also returns from the same draft process.

Wednesday night is the decision deadline for players to return to college basketball for next season and Swanigan will use two more workouts scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday to help decide his future. According to multiple reports, Swanigan will workout for the Orlando Magic on Tuesday and the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s workout with the Magic will also reportedly involve Cal big man Ivan Rabb — an important workout for Swanigan since Rabb is listed ahead of Swanigan on a lot of popular mock drafts. The Magic own three picks between No. 25 and No. 35 — which is listed slightly above the No. 40 slot that Draft Express has Swanigan listed. So if Swanigan has a good workout against Rabb for the Magic, then he could get himself some sort of guarantee from a Magic team that desperately needs talent and has a lot of picks in that range.

The Knicks also have Swanigan scheduled for a Wednesday workout as they own the No. 44 overall pick in the second round. Again, the Knicks are a team in win-now mode with current stars like Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis openly feuding with the team’s front-office, so it wouldn’t be out of the question for Swanigan to land some sort of guarantee from New York in the second round.

Of course, guarantees for draft night are nice to have, but things can change quickly on draft night. Swanigan has to consider all of the information he is receiving before he makes his decision on Wednesday. But if Swanigan has two strong workouts and gets the information that he’s looking for this week, then he could easily bolt for a potential guaranteed contract.

Angel Delgado’s return to Seton Hall makes Pirates Big East contender

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Seton Hall got huge news on Monday when Angel Delgado announced that he would be returning to school for his senior season.

“I am coming back to school for my senior year,” Delgado said in a statement on Monday. “It’s very important to my family and me that I finish what I started. This was a difficult decision that took time and patience. Coming back feels just right.”

Delgado, a 6-foot-10 forward from the Dominican Republic, averaged 15.1 points and 13.2 boards last season for the Pirates. He was one of the best big men in the country over the last six weeks of the season.

And his return should bring about one of the best years that Seton Hall basketball has had in a long time.

The Pirates are loaded with talent, tough and, most importantly, old players, from Delgado to Khadeen Carrington to Ishmael Sanogo to Desi Rodriguez. They are going to be a nightmare to run offense against, and they may just be the best team in the Big East not named Villanova. Delgado should end up being a preseason all-american.

Seton Hall is currently ranked No. 17 in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

Texas to return Andrew Jones for sophomore season

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Texas got another boost on Monday as former five-star recruit Andrew Jones announced that he will be returning to school for his sophomore season.

“I’ve matured and learned a lot through this process,” Jones said in a statement released on twitter. “I enjoyed the experience and opportunity that I had to be able to participate in the combine and team workouts.

“Time to go work out with my teammates. Hungry and Humble.”

This comes on the heels of Texas landing a commitment from a top five prospect in Mo Bamba. With all those pieces in the fold, including a recruiting class that features four more top 100 prospects, the Longhorns look like they are on track to be a borderline preseason top 25 team and heading back to the NCAA tournament.

This could end up being a narrative-changing year for Texas.

West Virginia returns potential Big 12 Player of the Year in Jevon Carter

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West Virginia got some great news on Monday as Jevon Carter announced that he will be returning to the Mountaineers for his senior year.

“I’m excited about coming back to West Virginia and playing with my teammates for my senior season,” he said. “The entire NBA process was a great experience for me and to gain valuable feedback that I can use to prepare for the future.”

This is massive for the Mountaineers. Not only is Carter the team’s leading scorer at 13.5 points, but he is a three-time all-Big 12 Defensive Team member and led West Virginia in minutes played last season. He’ll be a favorite to win Big 12 Player of the Year, with Devonte’ Graham of Kansas.

Arizona adds five-star Emmanuel Akot to Class of 2017

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Emmanuel Akot, a five-star wing that has been committed to Arizona for months, announced on Monday that he will be reclassifying to the Class of 2017 and enrolling at Arizona this offseason.

“My family and I have decided to join the 2017 class and become a member of the Arizona Basketball family,” Akot said.

Akot was considered a top 15 prospect in the Class of 2018, a class that many believe to be significantly weaker than the Class of 2017. At 6-foot-7, he’s a versatile defender with quite a bit of potential that can step out and knock down threes, but he’s also far from a finish product and will likely need time to acclimate to the college level.

That said, he should be able to fill a role on the wing nicely, providing a nice bit of defensive reliance alongside more offensive-minded weapons like Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins.

Akot joins a five-man recruiting class headlined by top four prospect Deandre Ayton and four-star recruits Brandon Randolph and Ira Lee.