Predicting Each Role for Wisconsin Basketball's Rotation Players

Predicting each role for Wisconsin basketball's rotation players, including Camren Hunter, Max Klesmit, John Tonje, Xavier Amos, Steven Crowl, John Blackwell, Daniel Freitag, Carter Gilmore, and Nolan Winter.
Predicting Each Role for Wisconsin Basketball's Rotation Players

Predicting Each Role for Wisconsin Basketball’s Rotation Players

This year’s roster for Wisconsin basketball will look very different from last year. With the departure of key players like AJ Storr, Chucky Hepburn, and Connor Essegian, the Badgers will rely on incoming transfers to make a name for themselves.

Wisconsin Badgers logo

The starting lineup projects to be a combination of returners and transfers, but how will each rotation player fit in with a role as Wisconsin looks to get back to the NCAA Tournament?

Camren Hunter

Hunter is coming off an impressive season at Central Arkansas, averaging 16.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. While the Big Ten is a step up from the ASUN Conference, Hunter will still be trusted to score a bit for the Badgers. He has a soft touch in the paint and plays more of a slashing role.

“Creating for teammates will be crucial for his success in Madison.”

On top of that, and more importantly, he’ll be taking the place of Hepburn, being the primary ball handler and playmaker.

Max Klesmit

Klesmit is coming off of an up-and-down season that saw him average 9.9 points on 39.8% shooting from deep. There was a brief five-game stretch in which he averaged an incredible 17.8 points en route to moving the Badgers up to 6 in the AP Poll, but he came back down to Earth after that.

Klesmit in action

This season, Klesmit will have to take on scoring priorities after the departures of Storr and Tyler Wahl. While he is a shooter, Kles can also get to the rim with his acceleration and 6'4", 200-pound frame. Greg Gard can certainly trust Klesmit to be a top option when it matters.

John Tonje

Tonje had an impressive 2022-23 campaign with Colorado State, before seeing limited time with the Missouri Tigers in 2024. At 6'6", 215 pounds, Tonje’s frame makes him a typical small forward with athletic abilities.

“Tonje loves to operate in the mid-range, as well as get to the basket.”

It balances perfectly with Klesmit on the wing, meaning that Tonje will take on scoring priorities with Kles. His range can also extend a bit, but his bread and butter is working inside the three-point line. Given more of an opportunity this upcoming season, Tonje’s numbers should shoot up once again.

Xavier Amos

A transfer from Northern Illinois, Amos knows how to work in the paint. The 6'8" power forward shoots 40% of his shots in the paint and converts at a 64% rate. Additionally, Amos can be a disruptor on defense, averaging 1.3 blocks for the Huskies this past season.

Amos in action

With the Badgers, he’ll look to adapt as a quick rim-runner and defensive anchor.

Steven Crowl

Crowl was big on the boards for the Badgers this past season, averaging 7.3 to go along with 11.2 points. He lacked on the defensive end, totaling just 17 blocks in 35 games. Amos will be that interior force on the defensive end, and Crowl will just need to worry about winning the rebounding battle and taking advantage of smaller defenders, being 7'0".

Additionally, Crowl will be a floor spacer, as he’s been for years. He shot 44.8% from deep, and while it wasn’t on a high volume, he can extend his range. Gard will incorporate Crowl on all spots of the floor in his revamped offense.

John Blackwell

Blackwell was an excellent surprise for the Badgers in his freshman season, averaging 8.0 points and 3.2 rebounds, while providing intense on-ball defense. He was rewarded by being named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

“Blackwell will have to continue to be a spark plug off of the bench while being a pest on the other side of the floor.”

He shot the three-ball at a high efficiency, 45.5% from downtown. Averaging 18.5 minutes in 2024, this season Blackwell could do the same, if not more time.

Daniel Freitag

Freitag has been hailed as the savior of Wisconsin basketball, but his starting role will likely have to wait. The 6'2" point guard from Minnesota will see time behind Hunter, and that isn’t a surprise.

Freitag in action

With an established core and experienced transfers coming to Madison, it’s better to have Freitag work as a backup point guard rather than thrust him into action right away. The Badgers want to win, and unless Freitag turns most heads before the season starts, he will need to develop for his freshman season before taking the reins.

Carter Gilmore

Gilmore saw his minutes get cut in half this past season, and they will likely stay the same going into 2024-25. The senior doesn’t have much of an offensive game, averaging just 1.8 points and 0.5 assists. All in all, Gilmore will look to be a glue guy, someone who can make hustle plays and be an extra body when other players are tired.

Nolan Winter

Winter saw some solid minutes early, averaging 10 per game against ranked opponents. It was a developmental year for the rising sophomore, and it’s important to note that he carries a similar frame as Crowl, but is a bit more agile. Winter will likely back up Crowl once again, but could definitely see extra minutes as a floor-spacer.