MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker has been named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week, the conference announced Monday morning, becoming the first Badgers player to earn the honor in the award’s three-year history.
Dekker, a 6-foot-7 forward from Sheboygan, Wis., registered 13 points and four rebounds during Wisconsin’s 71-54 victory against No. 12 Illinois on Saturday. He made 5 of 9 shots from the field, including a career-best 3 of 7 3-pointers. His performance helped Wisconsin start Big Ten play 3-0 for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
He has scored in double figures in six of Wisconsin’s last nine games and is fifth among all Big Ten freshmen in scoring. He also ranks sixth in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage (41.8 percent).
Dekker’s natural scoring and playmaking ability has allowed him to mesh well in Wisconsin’s offense in his first season. Despite playing the sixth-most minutes on the team (22.3 minutes per game), he ranks fourth in scoring (9.3 points) and third in total assists (28).
“With Sam, obviously he knocks down a couple 3s, gets loose in transition, he can do those things,” Badgers assistant coach Greg Gard said following Sunday’s practice. “He knows where the offensive end is. The thing is building more consistency and attention to detail on things defensively. He’s getting better. But it’s going to be a growing process.
“There’s going to be some growing pains that are associated with it, and as you continue to go through the league more and more film will go out. He’ll get defended a little differently at times. Every time somebody matches him, he’s got to continue to raise the bar on his own game. He’s hungry. He’s young. He’s full of energy. He wants to be good. So he’s on the right track.”
Wisconsin (12-4, 3-0) plays at Indiana (15-1, 3-0) on Tuesday night, with the winner taking over sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.