The Wisconsin Athletic Department is known for its high performance and its successful teams. While playing a Division 1 sport is a big accomplishment, there’s nothing like making it to the big leagues. The Badger basketball team has sent more than 25 players to the NBA, including five current professionals.
Sam Dekker, small forward for the Los Angeles Clippers, played at Wisconsin from 2013-15. He was drafted in the first round by Houston in 2015, where he played for two seasons. At Wisconsin, he led his team to the National Championship versus Duke, the first time the Badgers played for a title in over 70 years.
Now, Dekker averages 12.1 minutes and 4.2 points per game. The Clippers have a young team for this upcoming season, giving Dekker the opportunity to show his skill at the forefront.
Dekker’s 2015 National Championship teammate and leader, Frank Kaminsky, played at Wisconsin from 2012-15. He was drafted in the first round by the Charlotte Hornets, and has been the 7′ forward on the team ever since.
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Kaminsky is averaging 23.2 minutes and 11.1 points per game, making him essential to the Hornets dynamic. After Dwight Howard’s departure from Charlotte, the forward will play a larger role in assisting the team to wins.
Nigel Hayes, the most recent Badger in the NBA, went undrafted after graduating in 2017, however, was picked up by the New York Knicks to play for their Summer League team shortly after. He spent some time in the NBA’s G League, in between signing 10-day contracts with both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Toronto Raptors. While neither of the teams resigned him, he was picked up by the Sacramento Kings in March of the 2017-18 season.
This past week, unfortunately, Hayes was waived by the Kings to make room for Zach LaVine in the team’s budget. While with the Kings, he averaged 3.6 points a game, for the five games he played. If Hayes continues to work hard and prove his talents at Summer League, he could spark a team’s interest.
Devin Harris, a Wisconsin point guard from 2002-04, was drafted in the first round after leading the Badgers in scoring during his time in Madison. In his last season as a Badger, he was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, averaging 19.5 points and 4.4 assists a game.
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Harris spent most of his professional career playing for the Dallas Mavericks, however, made the move to Denver to play for the Nuggets this past season. As he approaches his 15th season as a professional athlete, Harris will be looking to improve the Nuggets’ record.
Jon Leuer, a Badger from 2008-11, was drafted in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks. He bounced around teams quite a bit after his first season with the Bucks but has been with the Detroit Pistons since 2016.
With the Pistons, Leuer averaged 17 minutes and 5.4 points a game, assisting Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond to rebuild the Detroit franchise. Coming off an ankle injury from January, he is expected to be healthy for the upcoming season.
The Badgers are consistently pumping out talent, as five new players join the team in the fall. With Ethan Happ returning for his senior season and the fresh faces on the court, the Wisconsin team is looking up for next year. To keep up with all of our alumni in the NBA, stay tuned for games starting in late October.