Wisconsin Basketball: Micah Potter’s Badger Debut Has Finally Arrived

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 20: Micah Potter #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes handles the ball in the second half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during their game at Madison Square Garden on January 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 20: Micah Potter #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes handles the ball in the second half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during their game at Madison Square Garden on January 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Panthers isn’t just another non-conference game against an in-state opponent. It marks the long-awaited season debut of Micah Potter who could provide this Wisconsin Basketball team with a huge boost going forward.

At 5-5, the 2019-2020 season certainly hasn’t started the way Wisconsin Basketball fans would have hoped. That goes double for junior forward Micah Potter, who has had to watch all ten of the team’s opening games from the bench.

By now, most of us are familiar with the story. Potter, a transfer from Ohio State, was hoping to receive a waiver from the NCAA to be eligible to play at the beginning of this season after sitting out all of last year – the first half while still enrolled at Ohio State and the second half after officially transferring to Wisconsin.

Despite the fact that waivers are often granted to student-athletes in similar situations, Potter wouldn’t be so lucky and his waiver was denied. Multiple subsequent appeals by the Badgers were also denied and, thus, Potter instead supported his teammates from the sidelines.

But the wait is over as Potter is finally eligible to take the court as a Badger for the first time in this weekend’s home game against the Milwaukee Panthers. His arrival comes at not a moment too soon for a team that could badly use another player of his stature.

Help Wanted: Must have frontcourt experience

It’s not hard to see why Head Coach Greg Gard and the Wisconsin Basketball team were looking forward to the arrival of Potter. With former Badger great Ethan Happ graduating after last season, Potter was expected to bring some much-needed size to the team, even if he wasn’t being expected to replace the production.

Without Potter, the lack of height has been noticeable. Fellow junior Nate Reuvers, who is listed at 6’11”, has certainly stepped up as the lead big man on the team, pacing the Badgers in both points per game (14.5) and rebounds per game (5.2). After Reuvers, there’s a significant drop off in height up front.

When Reuvers leaves to rest, however, that usually leaves the 6’8” junior Aleem Ford as the tallest player on the court with the 6’7” freshman Tyler Wahl there to join him. And though Ford has improved his post game since last year, that still leaves a pretty small lineup on the floor when Reuvers is on the bench. Now that the 6’10” Potter can be added to the mix, it takes pressure off of Reuvers to be the only true big man on the court for the Badgers and allows them to play with much more balanced rotations.

Production-wise, it’s hard to predict what Potter will bring to the table. In limited time over his two years at Ohio State, Potter put up 4.1 points per game and 2.8 rebounds per game while averaging just 12.1 minutes per contest. Still, he reportedly looked impressive during practices over the summer and put up nine points and a team-high eight rebounds during the team’s Red/White Scrimmage in mid-October. Either way, his mere presence will help as the Badgers get closer to the thick of Big Ten play.

Incoming: Ranked teams on the schedule

As if Potter’s boost to the frontcourt isn’t helpful enough, having all hands on deck will be extremely important as the Badgers are soon to hit another difficult stretch of their schedule. After this Saturday’s breather against Milwaukee, five of the team’s following seven games come against opponents currently ranked in the AP Top 25.

The challenge begins on Saturday, December 28th when Wisconsin travels to take on #21 Tennessee. After one more non-conference game against Rider, the Badgers jump back into Big Ten play by facing ranked opponents Ohio State (#5), Penn State (#23), Maryland (#7), and Michigan State (#15) with a game against Illinois filtered in. Of the four games against ranked Big Ten teams, three are on the road.

That is quite the gauntlet of teams to face to dive back into the Big Ten schedule. So of course it stands to reason that all five of them also happen to currently be the top five rebounding teams in the Big Ten with all five teams averaging over 40 rebounds per game. Wisconsin currently sits dead last in the Big Ten at 33.6 rebounds per game as a team. All of a sudden that added height is looking very relieving.

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Whatever the many reasons are that the Badgers want Potter to be on the court, that day finally comes tomorrow. Though his absence wasn’t ideal, Saturday’s game should give him an opportunity to knock off any rust and give the Badgers a more balanced attack for the rest of the year.