By Peter Cameron, BADGER STRIPES
The undersized point guard Kamari McGee drove to the basketball, but appeared well-covered by two opposing players tracking back on defense. But McGee flipped the ball into the air behind him, and new Badger A.J. Storr seemed to appear from nowhere. He rose through the air to grab the ball and flush it.
The alley oop at the annual Red and White Scrimmage of Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Team was a glimpse of athleticism not seen from a Badger baller since Johnny Davis left campus.
Storr, a 6’6? sophomore from just down the road in Rockford, showed why so many major college basketball programs wanted him when he announced his transfer from St. John’s after last season.
AJ Storr dunks off a lob from Kamari McGee in the annual Red and White Scrimmage of the Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Basketball Team.
Storr finished with three dunks, 2-5 shooting from 3-point range and a total of 15 points, as he paced his red team to a 69-51 victory on Sunday afternoon.
Fifth-year senior Tyler Wahl, who captained the losing white team, led all scorers with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting.
Storr shot 40% from three in his lone season at St. John’s last year and earned himself a spot on the All Big East Freshman team. Adding another long-range shooter was essential for Head Coach Greg Gard this year, and Storr also brings length and athleticism to give the Badgers some easy buckets in transition as well. He can get up the floor fast and finish strong.
His scoring off the dribble and post-up game need work, but he is already an offensive force, and has a sky-high ceiling. Gard has been extremely complimentary of Storr being a quick learner on defense as well.
The kids can play …and are badly needed
The Wisconsin program has a reputation for favoring minutes for upperclassman over freshmen.
But the trio of scholarship freshman — 6’8? Gus Yalden, 6?11? Nolan Winter, and 6’3? John Blackwell — look ready to all contribute now.
That’s vital because the Badgers struggled with depth last year. This season, it could be a strength. Gard has said he has hard decisions to make regarding playing time this year, a good problem.
While Yalden, from Appleton, came in with the most fanfare out of high school, and Blackwell has impressed with his early play in practice, it was Winter who looked most ready to play Sunday.
The Minnesota native recorded an impressive double-double, 13 points and 12 rebounds, to go with two blocks, an assist and an steal with no turnovers. He shot 5-8 from the floor, including 2-4 from three.Freshman Nolan Winter for three.
Blackwell, an unheralded high school player out of Michigan, appears to be the Badgers second great recruiting find in two years, after the lightly-recruited Connor Essegian lit up scoreboards last year. He has a long wingspan and the physicality to defend at a high level. He struggled to score in the scrimmage, but attacked the basket aggressively and went 1 for 2 challenging the much taller Winter at the rim, getting blocked once but then scoring over him near the close of the game.
Yalden, an excellent distributor, slimmed down in the off-season and defended well Sunday. He also showed some poise and strength backing down and then lofting a soft baby hook over the taller Steven Crowl for his only points of the scrimmage.Freshman Gus Yalden scores over the bigger Steven Crowl.
Carter Gilmore flashes an improved J
Preferred walk-on Carter Gilmore, a 6’7? senior who provided important front-court minutes for the undermanned Badgers last season, but often struggled to score. He’s a below-average athlete in the Big Ten who hangs in there with IQ, toughness and hustle. But he hit a three and a fade-away two in the scrimmage to finish the game shooting 4-5 for nine points. A little more offense from him this year could go a long way.
- Backup point guard McGee showed energy, toughness and smarts in leading his red team to victory over starting point guard Chucky Hepburn‘s white team. He recorded six points on 2-6 shooting with two steals, three assists and one turnover.
- Hepburn, Crowl and Essegian all had relatively quiet games, scoring 7, 8 and 9 respectively. The addition of the new players means they shouldn’t have to shoulder so much of the scoring in the coming season.
- Chris Hodges, the sparsely used 6’11” center, played mostly foul-free defense for the white team, his only blemish being a bad call on what appeared to be a clean block. The big man still struggles with his footwork, but showed good court vision and touch in the post in 25 minutes of action, recording an assist and a steal and one bucket on four shots. Perhaps he’s ready for some game action this year.
- Isaac Lindsey, the preferred walk-on shooting guard from Mineral Point who transferred in from UNLV, shot 1-2 from three and 1-4 from the floor for 3 points, but led all players with a plus/minus of +16 for the victorious red team. The freshman Winter had a plus/minus of +15. Fellow first years Yalden and Blackwell, playing for the losing white team, finished last in plus/minus at -17 and -16, respectively.
- Senior Max Klesmit, from Neenah, scored 13 points on 3-4 shooting from three and some nice drives to the hole.