The Glue Factor
In July forward Frank Kaminsky wrote a post on his personal blog headlined, If the Badgers Were a Baseball Team ... (With Player Comparisons). Although he anointed himself the pitcher—with a comparison to fireballer Randy Johnson—Kaminsky reserved the most lavish praise for his shortstop, calling fourth-year starter Josh Gasser Wisconsin's version of Derek Jeter. "Josh is our glue guy and our captain," Kaminsky says. "He doesn't do anything that's flashy or exceptional, he just does everything well."
The 6'4" Gasser attempted just 5.1 shots per game last season and is not athletically imposing; he played in a bulky left-knee brace after sitting out 2012--13 with a torn left ACL. But as sophomore forward Nigel Hayes says, "Josh takes on the load of guarding the best player, and when we're on offense, he always makes the right play." Gasser was named to the Big Ten all-defensive team in '13--14 and was Wisconsin's most efficient scorer, making 43.1% of his threes while committing just 0.8 turnovers per game. While Kaminsky is the preseason Wooden Award favorite and wing Sam Dekker is a projected first-round NBA draft pick, Gasser is so valuable for his crucial stops and timely shots that his teammates gave him a simple, Jeterian nickname: Clutch Josh.
With 2014--15 Projected Stats
ROUND OF 64
TELLING NUMBER 2
Wisconsin's national rank in turnover percentage last season; the Badgers gave up the ball on just 12.7% of their possessions. (Georgia State surrendered it on 11.9%.) Wisconsin also ranked seventh in the country in offensive steal percentage (6.7).
GREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Gasser is Jeter-like when it matters most.