After falling out of the NCAA tournament in heartbreaking fashion to the Florida Gators, agony quickly turned to a blunt realization for the Wisconsin Badgers. The careers of one of the greatest senior classes in Wisconsin history were to graduate in the Spring. With four of the five starters moving on with their careers, a gaping hole has been left to be filled by the program.
Enter Aleem Ford.
Badger faithful can remember a crucial recruiting trip down to Bradenton, Florida, where Wisconsin wrapped up its 2016 recruiting class. Not only did the program snag D’Mitrik Trice, but they also got his teammate, small forward Aleem Ford.
The school announced that Ford would redshirt his freshman season before the 2016-2017 campaign. Ford cited that it would be a great opportunity to grow as a player, being able to travel with team for away matches and often guarding the best player while leading the scout team.
Ford will battle for playing time with role players from last season, like Alex Illikainen and Charlie Thomas. With the likes of Khalil Iverson and Jordan Hill battling for starting minutes, Ford should be a cog in the middle of Wisconsin’s bench productivity, at least early on in the season.
Ford is an interesting prospect because of his height and technical ability. With the lack of a true big man and Ethan Happ’s knack to play in the hybrid five position, a major question being asked of Ford is whether or not he will be able to play in the four slot alongside Happ and guard opposing players that might be sightly larger in size, not necessarily in height (Ford stands at a lengthy 6’8”).
Regardless, it remains to be seen how much impact Ford will have in his first season on the court with the Badgers. Ford is an extremely promising prospect that fans should expect to be a household name in the coming seasons. Not to mention, the chemistry that comes with having two former high school teammates in the same lineup is unparalleled and a scary thought to any opponent.
The work has already started for Ford who has been preparing all season to make an impact. A summer filled with training and practices will do wonders for a prospect that can only raise his stock before tip-off next season. Additionally, the team will benefit from their trip “down under” to Australia and New Zealand, where the Badgers will participate in a multitude of exhibition matches.
Wisconsin fans, stay patient with the 2017-2018 Wisconsin basketball program and Aleem Ford. Although there might be a few new faces and a lack of some of your favorite names from yesteryear, Greg Gard and the squad have known about the holes they would need to fill for a while.