Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Wisconsin coach Greg Gard's backcourt will get a boost from a new walk-on.

‘Leap of faith’ brings Trevor Anderson to Wisconsin, the Badgers get an academic award and more

We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Wisconsin sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, hockey or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.

Today is Thursday, May 4, and this is what’s for breakfast.

Leap of faith

Trevor Anderson was Wisconsin’s Mr. Basketball in 2016, but the big-time scholarships that often come to the player who wins the award were nowhere to be found for the standout from Stevens Point, Wis. Instead, he ended up at Wisconsin-Green Bay, where he averaged 9.8 points per game before an injury ended his freshman season early. It was a solid year, but it was also one that made him question his decision to settle for a mid-major school. So, on Wednesday, Anderson announced he’d be transferring to Wisconsin.

Anderson told Evan Flood of that he didn’t want to have any regrets about not chasing his dream of playing for the Badgers, so he left a scholarship at Green Bay and will be a walk-on player for coach Greg Gard. The 6-foot-3 guard will have to sit the 2017-18 season, but he will have three years of eligibility left.

The move is an interesting one. It gives the Badgers some help at the point guard spot in future years. It adds another Wisconsin player to a roster that has increasingly taken on an out-of-state identity; just two current scholarship players grew up here. But perhaps more interesting for Wisconsin fans is the impact his move to Madison could have on the race to land one of the top prospects in the country in the Class of 2019: forward Joey Hauser.

The thinking for some time has been that Hauser, Anderson’s high school teammate, would follow his brother, Sam, to Marquette. But could Anderson’s decision to transfer level the playing field for country’s No. 12 power forward? It certainly can’t hurt.

If all that comes of this decision is the Badgers get a player who has a chance to be a meaningful part of the rotation down the line, that’s great. If it lends a helping hand in getting a 4-star recruit to commit, even better.

Where things stand: Inside linebackers

With Wisconsin’s spring practice behind us, we’re going position-by-position to take a look at where things stand. We focus now on inside linebacker.

What happened: With juniors T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly sitting out as they recovered from offseason surgery, and sophomore Chris Orr and senior Jack Cichy being limited coming off of season-ending injuries, the spring was a time for the young players at inside linebacker. Among those who saw plenty of reps were redshirt freshman Mike Maskalunas, sophomores Griffin Grady and Tyler Johnson, and junior Arrington Farrar, with the latter making the move from safety early in the spring.

Biggest takeaway: Wisconsin is loaded.

Teams around the Big Ten, and perhaps the country, have to envy the ridiculous talent and depth Wisconsin has at inside linebacker. Largely because of injuries the last two years, the Badgers have seen one player after another step into a starting role and thrive from Cichy and Orr in 2015 to Connelly in 2016. Add in Grady, whom the coaching staff has high hopes for, and the position is loaded for this year and in the future.

Biggest question: How will Wisconsin manage all that talent?

New inside linebackers coach Bob Bostad will have to work to figure out how to split up reps for the foursome of Cichy, Edwards, Connelly and Orr. The starting duo likely would be Edwards and Cichy, but one-time walk-on Connelly showed last year in starting the final seven games that he can play at this level.

While they all are team players, it will be difficult for those who could be forced back to the bench after playing vital roles in recent years. This is a good problem to have, but it’s also one that needs to be managed.

Playing school

Duke. Northwestern. Stanford.

That list reads like a who’s who of prestigious academic universities that also have fielded some fairly good football teams. But the list isn’t complete without Wisconsin. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the Badgers and the other three schools had an Academic Progress Rate in the top 10 percent of FBS programs. That makes them the only ones in the country to earn an APR Public Recognition Award in five straight years.

The APR, which each semester calculates players maintaining their eligibility, graduating and staying at that school, is used as a measuring stick to see how Division I schools across all sports are performing on the academic side of things.

That Wisconsin football has been able to maintain a standard of excellence isn’t a surprise. The Badgers put a premium on making sure the players they recruit will be able to make it in the classroom.

It’s one of the reasons former coach Gary Andersen left after just two years, unable to get certain players into school in addition to not being able to tap the junior college ranks for recruits. There’s certainly nothing wrong with Andersen believing in kids and wanting to give them a chance to succeed, but succeeding and wanting them to do so are two different things. And that’s just not what Wisconsin is about.

What the Badgers went through with Andersen is why it was so important to find a coach who understood you have to recruit a certain type of student-athlete to continue having success on the field and away from it. That’s what made Paul Chryst such an attractive choice, and he’s proven to be the right one in his first two seasons.

Catching up

  • Former Wisconsin cornerback Sojourn Shelton will have a veteran watching his back this summer in Arizona.
  • From The Wisconsin men’s hockey team will open its season this fall against Michigan Tech.
  • Austin Kafentzis, once thought to be the next big thing at quarterback for Wisconsin, will play this upcoming season at BYU his fourth college since graduating high school in 2015.