Zak Showalter, a sophomore guard on the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team, has decided to redshirt this season.
Showalter, who averaged 6.7 minutes in 22 games as a true freshman, looked at the logjam of bodies in the Badgers’ backcourt and wondered how much he’d see the floor this season. He made the decision to redshirt after a meeting with UW coach Bo Ryan before Monday’s practice.
“When we looked at everything, the numbers (at guard), it made sense,” Showalter said.
UW’s likely starting lineup includes three guards with significant experience: senior Ben Brust, and juniors Josh Gasser and Traevon Jackson. Sophomore George Marshall was the first guard off the bench during Monday’s practice, followed by freshman Bronson Koenig.
Showalter joined freshmen guards Riley Dearring and Jordan Hill, who also could be redshirt candidates, on the scout team as the Badgers began preparations for Wednesday night’s exhibition game against UW-Platteville.
“In two years, it’ll be me, Bronson, Jordan and Riley in the backcourt, and I’ll have two years with those guys,” Showalter said. “So I think I can contribute a lot more than this year with Josh playing 30 minutes, Trae playing 30 minutes, Ben playing 30 minutes.”
Showalter knows it won’t be easy to sit and watch this season, especially after the discussions he’s had with his best friend from high school, Josh Mongan, who redshirted last season at Winona State.
Showalter and Mongan helped lead Germantown to the first of back-to-back WIAA Division 1 state titles as seniors in 2012.
“He said it’s miserable,” Showalter said. “He says it’s so hard knowing you can’t help, especially when they’re losing games and knowing you could have maybe contributed a little bit. But I think it will be better in the long run to do this.”
The 6-foot-2 Showalter came to UW with a reputation as a tough-nosed competitor who needed work on his offensive game. He spent much of the offseason trying to develop a more consistent shot after shooting 37.9 percent last season, including 2 of 10 from 3-point range, while averaging 1.7 points.
Showalter said he was much more confident in his shot when practice began last month, and it has showed during practice and during Saturday’s Red/White Scrimmage at the Kohl Center, where he made both of his 3-point attempts and was 4 of 5 overall from the floor.
“Coach has always respected guys that play hard and do the little things,” Showalter said. “But I also want to be more reliable at the skilled part of basketball, so that’s what I’m working on.”
Showalter also knows he can play a valuable role on UW’s scout team even without appearing in games.
“Now my main goal is to get (Brust) ready to play his (butt) off every day in practice, because that’s probably who I’ll be matched up with the most,” said Showalter, who will be a walk-on this season after spending last season on scholarship. “Just get those guys better and ready to play every night.”