No. 35 — Sam Dekker, Men’s Basketball
This one is hard, as we’re all just months off of the high of reaching the national championship game in the NCAA tournament. However, it is nearly impossible to realize the talent, production and importance of Sam Dekker to recent and all-time Badgers basketball history.
Just how big of a deal is Dekker to recent history at UW? He joins Devin Harris as the only player to leave early for the NBA Draft under head coach Bo Ryan.
Dekker didn’t get there by accident, having one of the best NCAA tournament performances of any player in Wisconsin Badgers basketball history. He averaged 19.1 points per game, shot 58.2 percent from the field and averaged 5.5 rebounds per game in the run to the national title game.
This past season was his best in a Badgers uniform, shooting a career-high 52.5 percent from the field and averaging 13.9 points per game.
All of that ended with Dekker being named second team All-Big Ten, a finalist for the Julius Erving Award (given to best small forward in the country) and being name named the 2015 NCAA West Regional MVP.
In three years, Dekker racked up 1,363 points and ranks 15th on the all-time scoring list. He Had 78 career double-digit scoring games; nine 20-plus point games and was one of four UW freshmen to start a game under Bo Ryan (Devin Harris, Alando Tucker, Josh Gasser).
He also was named second team All-Big Ten in 2014 and honorable mention in 2013, while also being named to the 2013 All-Freshman team in the Big Ten during his first year in Madison.
While it’s hard to not be in the moment when thinking about Dekker, it’s also hard not to deny the talent level he possessed and showed on the court. However, he also struggled with defense and wasn’t the go-to guy for the Badgers often leading up to the 2015 NCAA tournament.
After all, his name doesn’t appear in any top 10 list on the UW record books for a career or single season. That, more than anything else keeps him from being much higher on this list.
Full 50 Greatest Badgers List:
No. 50 – Randy Jablonic
No. 49 – Alex Rigsby
No. 48 — Michael Lihrman
No. 47 — Howard “Cub” Buck
No. 46 — Don Davey
No. 45 — Pat O’Dea
No. 44 — Curtis Joseph
No. 43 — Dean Anderson
No. 42 — Ivy Martin
No. 41 — Ron Vander Kelen
No. 40 — Carly Piper
No. 39 — J.J. Watt
No. 38 — Joe Pavelski
No. 37 — Barb Franke
No. 36 — Dick Cable