Redshirt freshman Brevin Pritzl and sophomore Andy Van Vliet had received high praise from practices heading into the season.
Pritzl was called a knock-down shooter with deep three-point range. Everyone could visualize Bronson Koenig driving to the basket and attracting defenders then kicking it out to Pritzl for a three-pointer. Van Vliet also received praise as a shooter who could stretch the floor and bring the opposing defenders away from the rim.
Eight games into the season, the expectations for these young players has diminished. Brevin Pritzl has only averaged 3.2 minutes and 2.2 minutes per game, while Van Vliet has averaged 4.2 minutes and 1.2 points per game.
Does their lack of action mean that they were overhyped going into the season? Absolutely not. It showcases the depth that the Badgers have this season. Starters Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes, Ethan Happ, Vitto Brown, and Zak Showalter are all averaging more than 20 minutes per game. Also, the Badgers have five more bench players that are getting significant minutes. Alex Illikainen, D’Mitrik Trice, Khalil Iverson, Jordan Hill, and Charles Thomas are all averaging about 10 minutes per game. It’s difficult to give significant minutes to more than 10 players on a basketball team.
The praise for Pritzl and Van Vliet is still there, but they will have to wait until next year to get significant playing time. This bodes well for the future of the men’s basketball team. The Badgers will return one starter in Ethan Happ (pending him not declaring for the NBA Draft), and also returning are Alex Illikainen, D’Mitrik Trice, Khalil Iverson, Jordan Hill, Charles Thomas, Brevin Pritzl, and Andy Van Vliet. Aleem Ford will be off his redshirt status. The Badgers also welcome their best freshman class in recent memory: Forward Nate Reuvers leads the class ranked 83 in the ESPN 100, and the Badgers also get a pair of guards with Kobe King and Brad Davison.
The lack of playing time and production from Pritzl and Van Vliet shouldn’t be concerning. If all the players buy into their roles for the season the Badgers will be one of the deepest teams in the NCAA. Either way, the future of Wisconsin Basketball is bright and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.