Hoop Insights: The Rise of Micah Potter
Madison didn’t know what to expect from their beloved Badgers this season after losing Ethan Happ. The Badger legend started all 139 games of his Wisconsin career and ended atop the record books as Wisconsin’s leader in rebounds, blocks, double-doubles, and triple-doubles. Happ was also one of just six players in NCAA history to record at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 400 assists.
Enter Micah Potter. Potter transferred to Wisconsin during the 2018 spring semester. He applied for a special waiver in the preseason and later filed for an appeal, both of which were denied by the NCAA prior to the season opener against St. Mary’s earlier back on November 5th.
As a result, the Badgers struggled to a 5-5 start. Potter was finally granted eligibility before the Milwaukee game on December 21st. Since then, Wisconsin is 14-5, including winning seven out of their last eight contests. This is no coincidence.
Potter is crushing it while he is on the court, although doing so in relatively limited minutes (he averages 17.2 minutes currently). While on the floor, Potter is averaging 9.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and shooting 52.7% from the field (including leading the Big Ten in three-point percentage at 46.7% in conference play).
Playing key reserve minutes, Potter has been the X-Factor off the bench that Wisconsin needed, especially with the departure of Happ and the mid-season transfer of the team’s second-leading scorer Kobe King to Nebraska. Need evidence of Potter’s impact? The Badgers are 4-0 in games this season when Potter has played over 22 minutes, with three of those victories coming over Top 25 opponents.
With Potter on the floor, the Badgers are good for 1.032 points/possession in conference. But it’s been the defensive side of the ball where the Badgers have felt Potter’s presence the most, as they are giving up just 0.919 points per possession in comparison to allowing 1.078 pts/possession with him off the court
As you can see, Potter has given the Badgers a new option to run their offense through and has made them a better defensive team in conference play, as the Badgers sit just a half-game out of first at 12-6. He’s currently fourth in the Big Ten in overall-usage percentage (29.6%), just ahead of Michigan State’s Cassius Winston (29.3%), and first in the conference in effective field goal percentage (60.9% EFG), just in front of Minnesota star Daniel Oturu (59.5 eFG%).
It’s easy to see that Potter is far more than a guy off the bench for Greg Gard’s squad and has been an absolute game-changer when he sees 20+ minutes. If his role and playing time increase, Potter could be the secret weapon that unleashes a Badger run deep into March.
Written by Patrick Schmitt with the help of Aaron Hanshaw.
Aaron Hanshaw is a former Division I men’s basketball staffer and a national account manager for Just Play. He studies film and analytics in-season to identify trends and interesting topics in college basketball, while also finding better ways to help staffs teach their players. You can contact Aaron at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CoachAaronH. To learn more about Just Play, click here.