For the second year in a row, the University of Wisconsin has made it to the Final Four of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Last year, I tried my hand at naming Wisconsin’s all-time basketball greats. I did not include any members of the 2013-14 team.
This year, I think some of Wisconsin’s current stars need to be added to my list. After all, this group has twice accomplished what no other Badger managed to do even once in my lifetime — made it the Final Four team.
Here, then, is my revised all-time Wisconsin team:
Devin Harris (2001-04)
He was Big Ten Player of the Year and Cousy award runner-up in 2004, and an NBA lottery pick in that year’s draft. Harris averaged 19.4 points per game that season. Number ten all-time in Badger scoring and number eight in assists.
Michael Finley (1991-95)
A personal favorite of mine, Finley ranks second on the all-time Badger scoring list. A two time all Big Ten selection, he averaged more than 20 points a game in each of his final three seasons at Wisconsin. Finley was a first round NBA pick and won a title with San Antonio.
Alando Tucker (2002-07)
Wisconsin’s all-time leading scorer, Tucker was the school’s first consensus first-team All American since 1942. He averaged more than 19 points per game his last two seasons. Also a first round NBA draft pick.
Claude Gregory (1977-81)
A Washington DC basketball legend out of Coolidge High, “Little Stretch” (his brother James “Big Stretch” Gregory preceded him at Coolidge and Wisconsin) is Badgers all-time leading rebounder. He averaged 20.4 points per game his senior and ranks fourth on Wisconsin’s scoring list.
Frank Kaminsky (2011-15)
Considered a very strong contender for national player of the year, Kaminsky averaged 18.7 points, 8 rebounds, and nearly 3 assists per game this season. He shot 55 percent from the field and 41.5 percent on three-pointers. In the two Round of 8 games in which he played, Kaminsky scored 28 and 29 points.
A man of many nicknames, Kaminsky has gone by “Frank the Tank,” “The Moose,” “College Joe,” and my favorite, “The Sleepy Faced Assassin.”
Taylor Jordan (2008-12)
He is seventh on the all-time Badger scoring list and second all-time in assists. A finalist for the Cousy award for best college point guard, Jordan set the NCAA record for best assist-to-turnover ratio.
Wes Matthews (1977-80)
His 18.6 points per game ranks third on the Badgers all-time list. In his final season at Madison, Matthews averaged 19.6 per game on .512 shooting. Another first round pick who won an NBA title (with the Lakers).
Danny Jones (1986-90)
The Badgers number two all-time scorer. He also led the team in rebounding twice. Jones’ career field goal percentage was .535.
Mike Wilkinson (2001-05)
All Big Ten as a senior, Wilkinson led the Badgers in rebounding in each of his four seasons at Madison. He’s number eight on the all-time scoring list.
Joe Franklin (1965-68)
He’s number two in all-time rebounding for Wisconsin. Franklin was a first-team all Big Ten selection his senior year.
Trent Jackson (1985-89)
Star of the 1989 team that made Wisconsin’s first post-season tournament since 1947 (the NIT). He averaged 19.1 points per game that year (on .493 percent shooting) and 19.5 the year before. Left Wisconsin as its all-time leader in steals.
Rick Olson (1982-86)
He averaged 20.4 points per game his senior year, and is fifth on the all-time scoring list. Olson’s career free-throw percentage was .870, best in school history.
Kirk Penny (1999-2003)
A two-time all Big Ten selection, Penny is the Badgers ninth all-time leading scorer. Made just under 40 percent of his career three-point shot attempts.
Cory Blackwell (1981-84)
First-team all Big Ten selection his senior year, when he averaged 18.9 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
Jon Leuer (2007-11)
Led the Badgers in scoring and rebounding during his junior and senior year. As a senior, he averaged 18.3 points per game. Leuer has made a good living in the NBA knocking down three-pointers (49 percent of his attempts) as a “stretch 4.”
Honorable mention goes to:
Sam Dekker (2102-15), whom many consider a better pro prospect than Kaminsky. Dekker looked like a national player of the year candidate in the Round of 8 game against Arizona, when he scored 27 points on 5 of 7 shooting from 3-point territory.
During this past season, Dekker averaged 14 points and 5.5 rebounds. He shot .526 from the field and .338 from 3-point territory, and was named second-team all Big Ten.
Tracy Webster (1991-94), who holds Wisconsin’s top three single-season assist records and the Badgers single-season mark for 3-point field goal percentage;
John Kotz (1940-43) who led the Badgers to the 1941 NCAA championship;
Jim Clinton who averaged 15.6 rebounds per game in 1951;
Josh Gasser (2011-15) who, as a guard on the two Final Four teams, gives the Badgers a little bit of everything. Except for defense — he gives them tons of defense.
Clarence Sherrod (1968-71) who holds the Badgers single season points per game record (23.8 in 1971) and is eleventh on the all-time scoring list, but who shot only .407 for his career.
Sherrod went on to graduate from Wisconsin law school and had a distinguished career as an attorney.