MADISON — Greg Gard and his team used the transfer portal to fill two spots on the roster by signing a pair of guards who are expected to be key members of Wisconsin’s rotation next season.
They continue to search for a replacement for Chris Vogt, however.
Vogt was traded to UW from Cincinnati last season and served as the perfect complement to starter Steven Crowl and helped the Badgers win a share of the Big Ten regular season title.
He averaged 2.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, led the team in blocks (26) in just 12.8 minutes per game, and allowed the staff to limit Crowl to 25.3 minutes per game in his first season as a starter.
“We don’t win the Big Ten without Chris Vogt,” Gard said after the regular season.
What are the staff’s options if they can’t land a similar move to Vogt?
The only other big man on the current roster is 6-foot-9, 239-pound Chris Hodges.
However, Hodges did not play as a high schooler due to COVID-19 issues and wore a red shirt last season. He may need to develop faster if Crowl is the only experienced big man on the roster next season.
Could Hodges give UW at least a few minutes a game against teams with bigger centers, teams like Purdue and Indiana?
Another option would be to opt for smaller queues whenever possible.
Tyler Wahl’s versatility would be key in this scenario. Wahl can play any frontline position and usually causes game problems for taller, less mobile players.
Chucky Hepburn (7.9 ppg) will likely be more assertive offensively in second year and should average double digits.
Klesmit, who played two seasons at Wofford, chose UW over offers from South Carolina and Vanderbilt from the SEC, Clemson and Colorado State.
The Neenah High School graduate should be able to slip into Davison’s place.
Klesmit started two games and played in 19 as a rookie at Wofford. He averaged 8.2 points and 2.7 rebounds per game and shot 37.3% from three-point range (25 of 67), 46.6% overall (54 of 116) and 84.6% on the free throw line (22 of 26).
He started 31 games last season and averaged 14.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He shot 34.0 percent from three-point range (68 of 200), 44.6 percent overall (156 of 350), and made 83.7 percent of his free throw attempts (82 of 98).
McGee, a graduate of Racine St. Catherine’s High School, played one season at UW-Green Bay. He should give UW a reliable second point guard to complement Hepburn.
McGee started the Phoenix’s last 21 games and finished at 11.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. He shot just 38.8% overall, including 27.5% from three-point range, but many shots were contested and behind in possession.
Additionally, he played his best ball in the streak and averaged 17.6 points and 5.4 rebounds and shot 50.1 percent (34 of 67), including 40.0 percent three-pointers (6 of 15), in the last five games.
Like Hepburn, McGee is a tenacious defender who can also break through opposing defenses with the dribble.
It’s too early to tell if incoming freshman guard Connor Essegian will be ready to contribute next season.
Essegian, who played at Central Noble High School, finished 10th in scoring in Indiana State history with 2,526 points.
Here are some of the players past Essegian and where they played college ball: Damon Bailey (3,143, Indiana), Deshaun Thomas (3,018, Ohio State), Romeo Langford (3,002, Indiana), Rick Mount (2,595 , Purdue), Eric Hunter (2,583, Purdue) and Trevon Bluiett (2,568, Xavier).
The development of several players on the current roster could be critical.
Jahcobi Neath (1.6 ppg, 1.5 rpb) struggled with a left knee injury that required surgery after the season. He only played 23 out of 33 games and only occasionally showed the explosiveness that is one of his strengths.
Jordan Davis is a better shooter than he showed last season when he hit just 8 of 28 three-pointers.
Can striker Markus Ilver, who showed promise in pre-season training before hitting the freshman wall and playing a total of 29 minutes, flourish?
Can striker Carter Gilmore provide quality minutes off the bench?
The Badgers are due to leave for France on August 7 for a four-game tour. Will they have a reserve center on the roster to help take the pressure off Crowl?