With Wisconsin Basketball right around the corner, I’m previewing the season of every scholarship player on the roster. Up first was Bronson Koenig. Now, a look at the energizer bunny, Zak Showalter.
Last Season Recap
In his first year as a starter, Showalter was a fantastic glue guy. He was a constant bundle of overflowing energy for every second he was on the court. He was always hustling, and as a result he averaged 4 rebounds and 1 steal per game.
He was also Wisconsin’s best perimeter defender and was a master at taking charges. And when I say a master at taking charges, I literally mean a master. If there was a stat kept for charges, there is no doubt he would be at the top of the leaderboard. Charges are to Showy what touchdowns are to Melvin Gordon.
On the offensive end, Showy’s presence was a bit more subdued. He took the fewest shots out of all the starters, and as a result, he averaged only 7.5 points in 31 minutes of action. When he did shoot, he was reliable, knocking down 58% of his 2’s, 35% of his 3’s, and 80% of his free throws.
Showalter also earned the reputation as a spark plug. He constantly came through with big buckets, whether it was driving down the lane and finishing with a reverse, taking a steal to the house, or hitting a crucial three.
Burning Questions for 2016
1. Will he lose minutes due to the number of talented young guards below him?
With newcomers Brevin Pritzl and D’Mitrick Trice joining Jordan Hill and Khalil Iverson as Wisconsin’s back court depth, it’s fair to think that Showalter will see a major dip in playing time this season. His defense, tenacity, and energy are important to the team, but the coaches may want some more offense. When Pritzl gets more comfortable, he’s going to emerge as one of the best shooters on the team, and it’s going to be hard to keep him off the floor.
Showalter’s days of seeing 30 or more minutes per game are likely over. With the talented guards emerging below him, he may see closer to 22-25 minutes.
2. Will he be more assertive offensively?
It seemed like whenever Showalter drove to the hoop, good things happened. He has a quick first step and can finish in traffic. He also was accurate from three and demonstrated good touch from mid-range. The problem was he didn’t really assert himself that often. He doesn’t need to go overboard, but he has the ability to be more involved in the offense. If he becomes a threat to pull the trigger more often, it will give defenses one more thing to worry about.
3. Will we see any spectacular slams from him?
Anybody that’s watched Wisconsin basketball the last two years can tell you that Showy can fly. He has thrown down some highlight reel dunks as a Badger, and his senior year wouldn’t be complete without a few more. Nothing gets the Kohl Center rocking quite like a Showalter put back jam.
2016 Season Preview
There are two certainties when it comes to Showalter. First, he will take a lot of charges. Second, he will go all out, all the time. Every great team needs someone like him to bring the energy and defensive intensity. Showalter will be one of the best glue guys (AKA “Josh Gassers”) in college basketball.
He will also be charged with guarding the other team’s best player. Wisconsin plays a lot of really talented guards this season, including Maryland’s Melo Trimble, Creighton’s Mo Watson, Michigan State’s Eron Harris, UNC’s Joel Berry, Oregon’s Tyler Dorsey, and Oklahoma’s Jordan Woodard. Wisconsin’s top seed hopes will have a lot to do with how well Showalter can slow down those players.
On the offensive end, not much will change. Despite his minutes dipping slightly, Showy’s scoring will hold constant. As a second year starter, he will be more confident with the ball. Opposing defenses will also neglect him due to Wisconsin’s surrounding talent, and he will make them pay.
25 minutes, 7.3 points, 1 assist, 3.5 rebounds, 38% 3-pointers, 1.5 steals, 1,000,000 charges.
- Sports Illustrated’s All-Glue Team
- Big Ten All Defensive Team.