The Wisconsin Badgers basketball program held their media day on Wednesday as preparations continue for the 2023-24 regular season. Coming off a disappointing season last year, here are a couple of takeaways as the season is about a month away from starting.
Takeaway #1: Crowl, Klesmit, and Gilmore will use their COVID year and have 2 years of eligibility remaining
The biggest bit of news to come out of media day was that three key players on the Badgers roster will be listed as juniors this year. They will utilize their extra year of eligibility from COVID, which leaves them with two years of eligibility remaining. All three players plan to return for the 2024-25 season.
Greg Gard, when asked about their decision, said "It takes a worry out of their mind. We talked about it long before the last couple days, dating back to last spring that [they've] got the option to have two years left and they told me at that time [they] want to come back. They want to be here, unless I've got a golden ticket somewhere and they're [NBA Draft] Lottery picks, I'll shove them out the door with both hands."
Takeaway #2: Emphasis on getting stronger and faster in the offseason
All of the players spoke highly of the offseason workout program and the changes they made. There was an added emphasis on weight room workouts and getting physically stronger. Steven Crowl said he added on another 5-10 pounds of muscle. Carter Gilmore added another 20 pounds of muscle. Connor Essegian got a lot stronger. Markus Ilver put on more weight as well to fill out his frame.
But it wasn't all about adding weight, some players were focused on cutting weight. Gus Yalden is down about 42 pounds from last summer after an aggressive offseason program. He ran half-marathons, cut out sugar and junk food and completely overhauled his diet. Chucky Hepburn focused on slimming down and cutting his body fat to become faster and build his endurance through the course of the season.
Takeaway #3: A lot of excitement about AJ Storr
Sophomore transfer AJ Storr from St. Johns was a common name mentioned at media day. His teammates were excited about what he brings to the Badgers.
"He's super athletic. He's really good at picking things up. In the fall, since we've started, we've had a lot of stuff come in both offensively and defensively, and he's all ears, so that's really impressed me with him. He's all in on working towards our one goal" Tyler Wahl on what he's seen from Storr in practice early on.
"Whatever Coach [Gard] needs me to do. Whether that's scoring, defending, passing, rebounding" Storr said on what he will bring to this Badgers team.
Wisconsin men's basketball will open their regular season on November 6th against Arkansas State at the Kohl Center.