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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Markolf Says Adios To Basketball

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel broke the story earlier today that Ian Markolf has left the Wisconsin men's basketball team, reducing the number of scholarship players on next year's roster to 12.

Markolf, an academic all-Big Ten honoree, will stay at UW as a student according to the program's official statement. At the very least, that seems like a compliment to the university and the relationships Markolf has already formed in his two years in Madison. I must admit that I'm little saddened that we will never get to see Markolf play somewhere where he was a better fit. Best of luck to him.

With Eau Claire's Evan Anderson set to join rising senior J.P. Gavinski on the team this year, the Badgers still have more than their share of aircraft carriers for the scout team and will be fine.

Calling Markolf's recruitment a surprise and his subsequent career an disappointment might be an understatement. The 7-foot Texan was a Howard Moore recruit that was apparently brought to the staff's attention by former Badger great Michael Finley when he played for the San Antonio Spurs. I cannot confirm, nor deny, rumors that no one on the staff ever saw Markolf play in person prior to his arrival on campus.

The timing of the announcement puts Wisconsin in an interesting position. It is tempting for Bo Ryan to use Markolf's vacated scholarship to fill an immediate need. Next season the team will have a great need for an experienced guard. That specific need (experience) would not be met by simply grabbing another incoming freshman however. Besides, with the exception of Vander Blue and then Cameron Wright, the Badgers basically got the guards they wanted from the 2010 class in Gasser and Dukan.

A junior college player would be more likely, though the right fit is even harder to find from that student-athlete pool. And only in rare circumstances would a transfer be eligible next season when the need for guard depth is greatest. So saving the scholarship for 2011 might make the most sense. Someone like W'quinton Smith would then be in line for a one-year scholarship in 2010-11, a la Tanner Bronson.

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