Wisconsin mailbag: Will Camp Randall Stadium ever sell beer? Will Jack Coan take a redshirt?
Have Wisconsin football, basketball or recruiting questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Wednesday for the Land of 10 Wisconsin mailbag to talk all things Badgers. This week we discuss whether Camp Randall Stadium will sell beer, which basketball player has the largest upside, Wisconsin’s backup quarterback situation, how graduate transfer Wyatt Walker might fit into the Badgers basketball program and more.
When will Alvarez finally sell beer at Camp Randall?
— Carlawasthepromqueen (@promqueencarla) April 15, 2018
Answer: Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez went on the record in 2011 saying that he “wouldn’t even try” to sell beer at Camp Randall Stadium. Alvarez told the Wisconsin State Journal that while the additional revenue from beer sales was something to consider, it also was important to factor in “regulation and philosophy.”
“I just think there’s a lot more to it than just another revenue stream,” Alvarez said.
Since that time, many schools have approved alcohol sales at college football games. USA Today noted that 34 college stadiums sold alcohol among the FBS programs in 2015. And beer sales alone can bring in more than $1 million in revenue.
But if you’ve walked around the tailgating scene on a game day outside Camp Randall, you also know that alcohol availability is plentiful. Alvarez makes a great point about regulating beer sales inside the stadium. There are thousands of college students at the game, and it would be difficult to monitor alcohol consumption.
Better to come to Camp Randall to enjoy the game and the atmosphere. There’s plenty of time for beer before and after.
Jesse-what returning hoops player do you feel has the largest upside for growth and why?
— Douglas Greenberg (@DougGreenB) April 15, 2018
Answer: I’m picking guard Kobe King for a couple of reasons. I was blown away by King’s offensive versatility when I watched him during Wisconsin’s Red/White scrimmage, as well as the team’s two exhibition games at the Kohl Center. King scored a game-high 16 points in the scrimmage. He was the only Wisconsin player in double digits in scoring with 15 points against Northern Iowa. He led the team in scoring with 17 points against UW-Stout.
King struggled when the regular season began, which is natural for many freshmen. He appeared in 10 games and averaged 5.2 points, but he was just starting to play some of his best basketball when he went down with a season-ending left knee injury. King tallied 10 points in his first Big Ten game against Ohio State. He should earn a medical redshirt and still have four years of eligibility remaining.
The 6-foot-4 King has the potential to become a star at Wisconsin. He is big enough to take smaller guards inside, has a nice outside stroke and can get his shot off from a variety of angles on the floor. He also could stand out on defense.
King looked like a lot of young players on defense last season — inconsistent. He didn’t have to play great defense in high school because he averaged 28 points per game and was Wisconsin’s Mr. Basketball as a senior. Once he learns the rules that coach Greg Gard has in place, he could be a strong two-way player who makes a huge leap.
Do either Vanden boom or Lyles look up to holding down QB2 so Coan can redshirt or are we better off waiting a year so Wolf can be QB2
— Peter F (@pnfish1973) April 15, 2018
Answer: If coaches believe Jack Coan is the next quarterback in line once Alex Hornibrook uses up his eligibility, then it makes sense for them to redshirt Coan in the next two years. It wouldn’t do Coan or the program much good for him to use up two more years while throwing 5 passes each season, as he did during his freshman campaign. Without a redshirt season, Coan would be a senior when Hornibrook leaves. Of course, there has to be another signal caller capable of serving as the backup in order for him to redshirt.
Chase Wolf won’t be on campus until the summer, and it’s asking an awful lot of a freshman to earn the backup job in fall camp. I’m not ready to proclaim Danny Vanden Boom as the short-term answer for the Badgers. But Vanden Boom did put together a strong performance in Wisconsin’s scrimmage on Friday and helped lead his group to a couple of touchdown drives. Vanden Boom certainly has the winning pedigree, having gone 28-0 as a starting quarterback with two Wisconsin high school state championships at Kimberly. Ultimately, the second-best quarterback on the roster ought to be the backup. And someone else is going to have to play as well as Coan to earn the backup job.
What is Hedstrom upside? I have watched video and his stats aren’t mind blowing. Is there a kid you would compare him too.
— zach the great (@1Sween) April 15, 2018
Answer: I spoke recently with Ken Novak, who was Joe Hedstrom’s high school basketball coach at Hopkins High in Minnesota. Novak described Hedstrom as a bit of a project who likely will take a redshirt season in 2018-19. You’re right that Hedstrom’s stats don’t jump off the page. But he does stand 7-foot, and that’s something Wisconsin hasn’t had since Frank Kaminsky.
Hedstrom told me he watched Kaminsky when Wisconsin made its back-to-back Final Four runs in 2014 and 2015, and he has tried to model his game after Kaminsky. That certainly doesn’t mean Hedstrom will develop into a national player of the year like Kaminsky. But it does mean Hedstrom values being a versatile big man. He has worked to hone his mid-range jump shot so he can be a pick-and-pop player in Wisconsin’s offense while also banging down low in the post.
“A lot of times when you get kids that big, they’re kind of plodding,” Novak told me. “He’s not a plodder. He runs very well. He’s a kid that is improving every day. In the last couple years he’s made good strides. He’s got good overall strength. He’s going to have to get a lot stronger to be playing in the Big Ten.”
Here’s how Hedstrom’s father, Peter, described Joe’s game to me:
“He’s pretty fast north and south,” Peter said. “He has to work on his side movement. But he runs the floor, he’s aggressive, he sticks his nose into a fracas. He’s not afraid to bump people, to smash into people. There’s some guys that are tall and they want to be Dirk Nowitzki and just stand outside and shoot. Joe is developing a nice shoot outside. He has a pretty good stroke. But he’s not afraid to go inside. He doesn’t back down. I don’t say he has a temper, but he is very competitive.”
Hedstrom’s game appears to possess a lot of upside as he continues to grow into his body and become more comfortable on the floor. He should have an opportunity to earn minutes in 2019-20 after Ethan Happ, Alex Illikainen and Charlie Thomas use up their eligibility.
If Wyatt Walker comes to Wisconsin what role do you think he plays? Does he come in a start down low with Happ to add some beef down low? Or does he come off the bench to spell Happ?
— Mike Mageles (@MichaelMageles) April 15, 2018
Answer: Wyatt Walker is a 6-foot-9, 240-pound graduate-transfer forward from Samford. Walker reportedly is taking visits this month to three programs: North Carolina State (April 13), Wisconsin (April 20) and Oklahoma State (April 27). Walker played in only two games last season because of a leg injury, so he will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Walker’s potential role at Wisconsin would be interesting. He is not a big man who has shown the skill set to step outside and shoot 3-pointers, which is what the Badgers need. In his college career, Walker has attempted only 10 3-pointers and made two of them. But Walker did start 63 college games in his first two seasons. During his sophomore campaign in 2016-17, he averaged 12.9 points and 9.7 rebounds.
Perhaps Walker could start at the center position, with Nate Reuvers coming off the bench. Or Walker could be a bench player who spells Reuvers and Ethan Happ. It would depend on whether Walker is better than Reuvers, as well as which matchup coach Greg Gard wants in a given game. Either way, Walker would add much-needed depth in the front court. Plus, he’s a career 58-percent shooter from the field and can score inside.
What is the scholarship impact if UWbball gets a transfer with 2 or more seasons of eligibility?
— Shane Munyon (@money1443) April 15, 2018
Answer: Wisconsin has one scholarship available for the 2018-19 season given that forward Andy Van Vliet opted to transfer. If Wisconsin is able to land graduate transfer Wyatt Walker, the Badgers would be filled up on their 13 scholarships for next season. Walker would also be on scholarship in 2019-20. The good news for Wisconsin is that there would still be three scholarships available for that season.
Ethan Happ, Charlie Thomas, Alex Illikainen and Khalil Iverson will use up their eligibility after the 2018-19 season. Center Joe Hedstrom will earn one of those open scholarships the following season. But that leaves three spots so the Badgers can find quality high school prospects and distribute the scholarships evenly throughout classes.
Walker and Brevin Pritzl would be seniors in 2019-20, leaving two scholarships open after that season (assuming nobody else transferred).
I have heard a lot of people raving about Aron Cruickshank, specifically his speed. Will he redshirt? If he doesn't, could he take on a Curtis Samuel type role? Thanks Jesse.
— Wisconsin (0-0) (@UWiscFootball) April 15, 2018
Answer: The more Aron Cruickshank practices, the more he shows the coaching staff that he deserves to be on the field in some capacity this season. Cruickshank is listed at 152 pounds, which is 18 pounds lighter than any other player on the roster. But, as you noted, his speed presents a different dynamic for the Badgers.
Cruickshank could be sneaky good as a slot receiver for Wisconsin, and he’s also spent the past week working on the outside. He is a viable candidate as a kick return man this season. During a scrimmage last Friday, he took a jet sweep for a gain of more than 20 yards. On Tuesday, he caught two long touchdown passes from backup quarterback Jack Coan.
Wisconsin obviously has four talented receivers coming back with Quintez Cephus, Danny Davis, A.J. Taylor and Kendric Pryor. But there has to be a place for someone as talented as Cruickshank. I don’t quite see a Curtis Samuel role for Cruickshank. Samuel weighed 197 pounds at Ohio State and could take the impact of frequent carries.
During Samuel’s senior season in 2016, he carried 97 times for 771 yards. Wisconsin has too many good running backs for Cruickshank to see more than a handful of jet sweeps. But in terms of versatility, Wisconsin certainly has options with him.
Badgers coach Paul Chryst was asked Friday if Cruickshank warranted playing time consideration next season.
“Our whole thought process going into spring ball is give yourself a chance to get reps for fall camp,” Chryst said. “I think Aron’s done some things that have been good and have earned him certainly the right for reps in the fall.”
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