FULL RECAP: Freshman G Connor Essegian shines in Wisconsin Basketball Red-White Scrimmage

FULL RECAP: Freshman G Connor Essegian shines in Wisconsin Basketball Red-White Scrimmage

Wisconsin held their annual Red-White scrimmage, giving media and fans a first glance at the new-look Men’s Basketball team following the departure of star guard Johnny Davis to the NBA Draft.

Here were the teams for the scrimmage:

The Red team, led by sophomore guard Chucky Hepburn and senior forward Tyler Wahl, won the close game, defeating the White team 55-51, after the two sides were tied at 27 at halftime.

For the Red team, it was freshman guard Connor Essegian who stood out, going 6/7 from the field for a team-high 15 points, including 3/4 from beyond the arc.

Essegian caught fire throughout the game, draining multiple threes from the corner, as well as a two-pointer due to his foot being on the line in the first half.

However, the 6’4, 185-pound guard had his best sequence in the second half, hitting a three-pointer in transition before knocking down a tough contested fadeaway jumper on the following sequence.

The sharpshooting guard clearly has an offensive presence, which should allow him to fight for minutes on a Wisconsin team that struggled from beyond the arc in 2021, but head coach Greg Gard said that the freshman needs to improve defensively, while also developing more of a frame moving forward.

Tyler Wahl was the Red team’s second-leading scorer, dropping 13 points on 5/7 shooting, which involved going 3/4 from distance as well.

After shooting a paltry 16.2% from three in 2021, Wahl appears much more comfortable from beyond the arc this season, as he even stepped into a three and drained it with ease.

If Wahl continues to develop his shot, while handling the ball as he did on Sunday, he could be a force to reckon with offensively, giving Wisconsin multiple shot-creators to support Chucky Hepburn.

Speaking of Hepburn, the sophomore guard scored 12 points on 6/9 shooting, including a missed attempt from three.

Hepburn consistently looked to attack the basket, while finding his balance with the midrange and scored efficiently after an inefficient freshman campaign where the guard shot just 38% from the field.

With his 6’2, 205-pound frame and explosiveness, Hepburn should continue to attack the rim and draw fouls, while his three-point shooting should come naturally after he shot 34.8% from distance in 2021.

Redshirt freshman Chris Hodges made his debut in a Wisconsin uniform on Sunday, scoring two points, while hauling in two rebounds, and committing two turnovers.

While head coach Greg Gard wouldn’t mind any offensive contributions from Hodges, he intends to utilize his 6’9, 245-pound forward primarily for defensive purposes, especially as Wisconsin looks to improve in that area.

Freshman walk-on guard Luke Haertle made a good first impression as well on Sunday, scoring six points on 100% shooting in the way he knows best: attacking the rim.

While Haertle likely won’t be counted upon as much as a freshman, the 6’3, 215-pound guard is a good rebounder for his height, which was present at the scrimmage where he secured five rebounds.

Stretch-forward Markus Ilver had a rough game, missing all five of his shots, including several open opportunities from the three-point range.

Ilver brought in five rebounds, but his strength in the paint as a defender will determine his playing time this season alongside forwards Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl.

For the White team, guard Max Klesmit was the star of the game, scoring a game-high 17 points, shooting 7/13 from the field and 3/7 from three.

The Wofford transfer took a significant leap last year with extended playing time, averaging nearly 15 points per game, while shooting 44.6% from the field and 34% from three.

If Klesmit can keep, or even improve, his efficiency while transitioning to Big 10 play, the Badgers could maintain their offensive rankings from a year ago, as they look to upgrade their perimeter performance.

Junior guard Jordan Davis had a rough day, scoring 10 points, but on poor efficiency, as he shot just 4/12 from the field and 2/6 from three.

Davis, who stands at 6’4, 200 pounds, appeared to settle too often on Sunday, looking for his shot, rather than attacking the paint, which could’ve led to better scoring opportunities or more assists to his teammates for open looks.

Davis could see an extended role from his 6.5 minutes-per-game average in 2021, as his size will be an added bonus defensively, where the Badgers need to improve.

However, he’ll need to be more efficient and showcase a better shot selection, while looking for his teammates more to reach his potential.

Junior forward Carter Gilmore had a solid game, scoring seven points and having seven rebounds on the day.

Gilmore, according to head coach Greg Gard, could be the team’s most improved player, as he’s grown into his 6’7, 225-pound frame, while showing the ability to initiate the offense and even create his own shot.

Despite a quiet freshman and sophomore year, Gilmore looks to have an extended role this season for the Badgers.

Forward/Center Steven Crowl had himself a game, scoring six points while dishing out six assists.

It appears that the Badgers want to run their offense through their bigs and both Crowl and Tyler Wahl have the potential to be good passers, which was showcased on Sunday.

If they can continue their performances as initiators, the offense may run more smoothly, which will help soften the blow of losing Johnny Davis.

Transfer sophomore guard Kamari McGee, who had significant minutes as a freshman for Green Bay, scored nine points on 4/6 shooting, including 1/2 from three.

McGee was fairly inefficient as a freshman, shooting just 38.8% from the field and 27.5% from three, but could be a good off-ball option for the Badgers, as he showcased his ability in transition, both as a slasher and a cutter.

McGee’s slighter frame puts his role into question, but his tenacity on defense is well-noted, and he bests serves as a backup that can be a shot-creator, but an off-ball option as well.

Head coach Greg Gard was non-committal on the amount of three-guard lineups he’d use postgame, but with the incoming talent at the position, it’s hard to see him not experiment with certain rotations to get his best players on the court.

The Badgers have their first exhibition game of the year on October 30th at the Kohl Center, where they’ll face off against UW-Eau Claire.

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