JJ Watt, Jared Abbrederis on BTN All-Decade Team

JJ Watt played just one year in the 2010s but it was still good enough to earn him All-Decade honors from the Big Ten Network.

The All-American defensive end was one of four players named to the first team along the defensive line. Watt’s lone year was 2010 when he helped Wisconsin to its first Big Ten title since 1999. He did it by racking up 21 tackles for loss, which at the time was the sixth-most in a single season by a UW player. He added seven sacks, eight pass breakups, three forced fumbles and three blocked kicks.

Watt was joined on the first team by Ohio State standouts Joey Bosa and Chase Young, as well as Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan.

Another Wisconsin star, Jared Abbrederis, was a second-team pick at wide receiver. In his four years with the Badgers, which included three Big Ten titles, the former walk-on had 202 catches (tied for 1st in UW history), 3,140 yards (2nd in UW history) and 23 touchdowns (tied for 2nd in UW history).

With BTN still to unveil the quarterbacks, kickers and punters, here are the Wisconsin players honored so far:

Running Back
Jonathan Taylor (1st team)
Melvin Gordon (2nd team)

Wide Receiver
Jared Abbrederis (2nd team)

Offensive Line
Michael Deiter (1st team)
Gabe Carimi (2nd team)
Kevin Zeitler (2nd team)

Defensive Line
JJ Watt (1st team)

Linebacker
Chris Borland (1st team)
TJ Watt (2nd team)

The game former Badgers standout Ethan Happ can’t forget

Ethan Happ was a part of a lot of wins at Wisconsin. He redshirted as the Badgers made their run to the 2015 national title game and then went on to start four years, leading UW to three NCAA tournaments. Memorable victories in that stretch included a buzzer-beating win over Xavier in the 2016 tournament, taking down top-seeded Villanova in the following spring and home victories over Michigan and Purdue that resulted in fans storming the court. But that is not the game that is the most memorable to three-time first-team All-Big Ten performer. No, it’s the crushing loss at the hands of Florida in the 2017 Sweet 16.

Here’s what Happ told ESPN about that game:

“I got it on my board at my home, the final box score of the Florida game in the 2017 Sweet 16. Chris Chiozza hit that one-footed runner at the buzzer. That game will always hurt me the most because one of the biggest things was that I got to play with those seniors [Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes, Vitto Brown and Zak Showalter]. We beat Villanova, the No. 1 seed, and we were on our way to beating Florida, barring something crazy. South Carolina, which we would have played next, in terms of the bracket, is who you would want to play, and we felt confident we could get to the Final Four that year.

“It stung. I still have that thing on my bulletin board. You can look at it how you want. Everyone has their own opinion. It’s easy for people on Twitter to say things, but if Chiozza doesn’t make this miraculous shot, no one says a word [of criticism]. No part of us thought we were going to walk through Florida. KeVaughn Allen was hot, and he kept hitting shots. C’mon, man — I just stopped having nightmares and you want to ask me about this? We should have won that game. I’m sure Florida would say the same thing. But in a seven-game series, we’re winning that series.”

ESPN caught up with a number of guys getting ready to play in the The Basketball Tournament this summer and that included Happ, who will play for Team Hines.

Four Badgers named to B1G All-Decade team

Wisconsin produced quite a few All-Americans over the last decade and a number of them were honored by the Big Ten Network on Monday.

Twenty-four experts voted on the best players at each position in the conference over the last decade and are releasing the results over the next five days. First up was the running backs and linebackers.

The Badgers picked up two spots at each position. Jonathan Taylor was named to the first team at running back, while Melvin Gordon was a second-team pick.

Then, Chris Borland earned first-team honors and TJ Watt was a second-team selection at linebacker.

https://twitter.com/BigTenNetwork/status/1277662861200850951

Former Penn State star Saquon Barkley was the other first-team running back, while Borland was joined by Iowa’s Josey Jewel and Michigan’s Devin Bush at linebacker with the first team.

You can find more information about BTN’s All-Decade teams here.

Wisconsin adds cornerback in 2021 recruiting class

Wisconsin added to the defense with its latest commitment in the 2021 class.

Cornerback Ricardo Hallman (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) announced his commitment Monday afternoon.

https://twitter.com/ricardohallman6/status/1275128304161501184

A three-star recruit, Hallman is rated as the No. 44 CB in the country and the 85th-best player in the talent-rich state of Florida.

The 6-foot, 183-pound Hallman chose Wisconsin over 15 other scholarship offers, including Arkansas, Louisville, Cincinnati and others.

Hallman’s commitment gives the Badgers 15 commits in the 2021 class. Before Hallman’s announcement, the class was ranked No. 13 in the country and No. 4 in the Big Ten.

https://twitter.com/ricardohallman6/status/1168157891339202560?s=20

https://twitter.com/dhillsb10/status/1275128625759567872

Wisconsin announces first results of COVID-19 testing for athletes

The Wisconsin Athletic Department revealed Monday that two student-athletes have tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a press release, the school tested 117 athletes as part of its initial campus screening when athletes started to return to campus earlier this month. Those tests revealed the two positives.

The two athletes that tested positive are now self-isolating and UW is monitoring their recovery. The university is following local public health guidelines on reporting and contract tracing to locate those that may have come into contact with them.

The school is not announcing the names of those that tested positive or the sports they played. Officials do plan to continue to release the aggregate number of positive tests on a regular basis.

Wisconsin started the initial phase of its return to campus plan on June 8 with football and volleyball players allowed back. All were tested for the virus prior to starting voluntary workouts June 15. The plan called for the basketball and hockey teams to return later in June.

Former Wisconsin guard Kobe King won’t play at Nebraska

Kobe King’s time at Nebraska is over before it began.

The former Wisconsin guard told coach Fred Hoiberg he would not be joining the Huskers.

“Kobe King has informed us that he will not be attending the University of Nebraska for personal reasons,” Hoiberg said in a statement. “We respect his decision and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

King, Wisconsin’s leading scorer in Big Ten play last season, left the Badgers in late January. He said at the time that he no longer felt like a fit at the school or within the program.

With two years of eligibility left, King entered the transfer portal and eventually picked Nebraska in late February over Iowa State and others. He did not visit Lincoln before committing.

The end of King’s time in Madison was not pretty, as he told the Wisconsin State Journal that he didn’t like the way coach Greg Gard spoke to the team, that he was only being used to win games and that he felt like a servant.

In his two-plus years at Wisconsin, King averaged 10.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

After he left, the Badgers caught fire, including winning their final eight games. It allowed them to capture a share of the Big Ten title and Gard was named Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Fans at Wisconsin games this year? AD Barry Alvarez says that’s ‘up in the air right now’

Wisconsin is scheduled to open the 2020 football season at Camp Randall Stadium against Indiana on the night of Sept. 4. With COVID-19 still having a significant impact on the country, it remains to be seen what exactly that will look like.

During a virtual town hall for season-ticket holders on Thursday, athletic director Barry Alvarez said the date for making a concrete decision is fast approaching.

“We have to be getting closer because our kids are going to be reporting for camp in a few weeks,” Alvarez said. “I think we’ll have some answers after the Fourth of July. We’re going to have to. A lot of discussions, a lot of areas that we have to make tough decisions on.”

Among those tough decisions will be whether to allow fans into the stadium, and if they are allowed, how do they decide who gets in.

“You hate to keep pushing these questions off, but there’s no way we can answer that,” said Alvarez, who also noted that he could foresee each Big Ten venue being different. “There’s nothing like 80,000 in (Camp Randall Stadium) on game day Saturday. It’s been called one of the greatest game day atmospheres in the country. That’s our ideal. Where we’ll be — the number, the percentage, the social distancing — that’s up in the air right now. That’s to be answered.”

The Badgers do have plans in place but aren’t focusing on any particular one at this point.

“We’ve put all our effort behind developing plans for each of those scenarios and virtually no effort in predicting which one of those scenarios will emerge,” deputy AD Chris McIntosh said.

McIntosh admitted that if they do end up allowing fans, and it’s at a reduced capacity, there will be some tough decisions on who exactly gets to go into the stadium.

“The scenarios that we could be faced with, we’ve never been faced with. That will require flexibility on all our parts,” McIntosh said. “It’s likely that we’ll have to put forth some creative solutions that will likely be impossible to make everybody happy. We’ll do the best we can. That’s our vow or our pledge to those that have supported for such a long time.”

Players back on campus

For the first time in quite a while, Alvarez had the pleasure of looking out his office window at the stadium this week and seeing athletes on the turf as voluntary workouts got underway. Their appearance came as a result of an extensive plan to bring athletes back to campus after being away for close to three months due to the virus.

“We view this as the first of many steps to a fall with seasons as we’ve grown accustomed,” McIntosh said. “Fall camp for football, preseasons for our other sports. This is the world we live in now.”

All the players were tested for COVID-19 upon their return and McIntosh called the process “meticulous.” They’ll continue to go through the voluntary workouts until July 12. At that point, due to a vote by the Division 1 Council on Wednesday, those workouts can become mandatory. Then, for two weeks starting July 22, the team will be allowed on the field for walkthroughs. Finally, the normal preseason camp can get underway Aug. 5.

“Our athletes are probably more fired up than they have ever been to get back on campus and get working toward the season,” McIntosh said.

Notre Dame at Lambeau Field

There was a report earlier this month that Wisconsin’s game on Oct. 3 against Notre Dame at Lambeau Field wasn’t going to happen. Then, Irish coach Brian Kelly threw gas on the fire by saying in an interview that they were exploring moving games out of NFL stadiums and back to campus. If that’s the case, they haven’t informed the Badgers about it.

“To date, we have yet to have any conversations with Notre Dame about changing the game,” Alvarez said. “As of right now, it’s status quo.”

Cutting sports?

Schools around the country are cutting sports at an alarming rate due to budget restraints, which in some cases is directly related to COVID-19. It could get much worse if the football season is not played, as a lot of schools use football to prop up the rest of the athletic department.

Wisconsin has put together a number of budgets for various scenarios, including the doomsday of no football. But cutting any of the 22 other sports isn’t currently on the menu.

“Cutting sports, we have not even discussed that. We’ve not even considered that at this point,” Alvarez said. “I think we’ve done a very conscientious and a good job of managing our finances over quite a few years.

“As we move forward, if attendance and TV contracts and all those things change, they’ll affect our budget. Our people have really several different budgets planned according to what’s going to happen. We try to be proactive about what possibly could happen, so we’re prepared to move in that direction when it does. Cutting sports is not something we’re considering.”

NCAA council approves preseason practice plan for football

The Wisconsin football team could begin required workouts in the middle of July.

That news comes after the NCAA Division I Council voted to approve a six-week preseason schedule for college football teams on Wednesday.

“This is the culmination of a significant amount of collaboration in our effort to find the best solution for Division I football institutions,” said Shane Lyons, chair of the Division I Football Oversight Committee that recommended the plan to the council. “Our student-athletes, conference commissioners, coaches and health and safety professionals helped mold the model we are proposing.”

The Badgers open the season Sept. 4 against Indiana at Camp Randall Stadium. Under the plan, Wisconsin would be able to require players to participate in up to eight hours of weight training, conditioning and film review per week starting as early as July 12 for a period of 10 days.

For the next two weeks, players would be required to participate in up to 20 hours of activities per week. Those activities include up to eight hours per week for weight training and conditioning, up to six hours per week for on-field walk-throughs, and up to six hours for meetings.

Then, as normal, the team can proceed into its 29-day preseason practice period prior to the first game. That would begin Aug. 6 for Wisconsin.

“Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country, we believe this model provides institutions and their student-athletes flexibility to prepare for the upcoming season,” Lyons said.

Many Wisconsin players — 100 of a possible 123 — returned to campus last week before starting voluntary strength and conditioning workouts on Monday.

Breaking down Wisconsin’s incoming recruits with assistant Alando Tucker

Wisconsin basketball will welcome six new players to campus (hopefully) later this month as the school gradually allows student-athletes to return. Assistant coach Alando Tucker recently appeared on The Swing podcast and was asked for a quick snippet on the newcomers:

Ben Carlson (F)
6-foot-9, 205-pounds
Woodbury, Minn.

“This dude, his IQ is off the charts. Knowing the game and already has the physical ability. He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with just as he continues to build out. I’m super excited about having him here because of where his body is, and his mind matches his physique at this stage in his career.”

Johnny Davis (G)
6-foot-4, 185-pounds
La Crosse, Wis.

“Athletic. Does a little bit of everything. On the high school level, a go-to guy. You get him the ball and say get out of his way and he can get things done. He has an edge and a demeanor about himself that sets him apart.”

Lorne Bowman (PG)
6-foot-2, 180-pounds
Detroit, Mich.

“Gritty, tough-nosed guard that knows the game from the point guard position. He’s a leader. You can see he commands respect when he’s on the court from not only his teammates but he commands respect from his opponents. Understands how to play the game, tough-nosed, has that grit and edge to him that’s needed here at Wisconsin.”

Steven Crowl (C)
6-foot-9, 210-pounds
Eagan, Minn.

“Lights out shooter. … Who excels at Wisconsin? Bigs that can get out and stroke it, understand the game from that level and has that characteristic about their game. He has game in the post that gets overshadowed and overlooked. When you look at the history at Wisconsin — the Nate Reuvers’, the Brian Butch’s, the Frank Kaminsky’s — he falls right in that echelon.”

Jordan Davis (G)
6-foot-4, 185-pounds
La Crosse, Wis.

“The unique aspect of what we’re getting is he’s bred from the same Davis family (as Johnny). You get him coming in with that same grit, same edge. He can shoot it, do a little bit of (everything). Again, he has that same passion and desire because he’s under the same household. Him and Johnny have had to compete every day since they were born. At the same time, it’s a healthy competition that pushed each one of them to be good. When you see Johnny, you’re seeing Jordan.”

Carter Gilmore (F)
6-foot-7, 200-pounds
Hartland, Wis.

“That right there in itself says who he is. He turned down scholarships to walk-on to a program when he could have went and played (elsewhere). But this kid, do not mistake him because he doesn’t have a scholarship under his name right now when he walks onto campus. This kid has shown on the high school level his capabilities and how good he is. He’s going to be a guy that is respected. I don’t think you’re going to look at him like a normal walk-on. This kid had scholarship offers at multiple universities. That speaks in itself to who he is as an athlete and what he can do.”

Wisconsin volleyball star named B1G Athlete of the Year

Add another award to Dana Rettke’s trophy case.

The Wisconsin volleyball star was named the 2019-2020 Big Ten Women’s Athlete of the Year on Thursday.

Rettke is the first female from UW to win the award since 1997 and the first UW athlete to win either the women’s or men’s award since 2000.

She earned the honor after leading Wisconsin to the national title match last fall and being named first-team All-American for a third-straight year. Rettke was also the 2019 Big Ten Player of the Year.