Standout forward Sam Dekker will be in the lineup for No. 3 Wisconsin on Friday for the Badgers’ nonconference opener against Northern Kentucky.
With all but one significant contributor back from last season’s Final Four team, the only question for Wisconsin was whether Dekker’s ailing ankle would be well enough for him to play.
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He says he is good to go.
Dekker, 6-foot-9 junior and first-team preseason all-Big Ten pick, sprained his left ankle in practice in late October. He didn’t play in the Badgers 77-40 exhibition victory over UW-Parkside last week.
”It’s feeling good now,” Dekker said Wednesday. ”It took a little longer than I thought it was going to.
”Nothing else really needs to be said about that.”
Dekker was third on the team last season with 12.4 points per game and second in rebounds at 6.1. Seven-foot senior center Frank Kaminsky, the preseason pick as the Big Ten player of the year, led the team in both categories with 13.9 points and 6.3 rebounds.
The Badgers lost only three-point specialist Ben Brust from the team that lost to Kentucky 74-73 in the national semifinals.
Against Northern Kentucky, the Badgers will be without 6-foot-10 senior forward Duje Dukan, a key reserve who must sit out the first two regular-season games because he played limited minutes in a closed preseason scrimmage and an exhibition game before the 2012-13 season.
He then opted to miss the rest of that season to recover from mononucleosis.
Nigel Hayes, a 6-foot-8 sophomore who averaged 7.7 points last season in a sixth-man role, is 10 pounds lighter and has added a three-point shot after an offseason regime that he said involved about 700 shots per day.
In late October, Hayes was added as a plaintiff to a lawsuit against the NCAA and the five major conferences, seeking a free market for paying college athletes.
Also on Wednesday, Badgers coach Bo Ryan announced the signing of three high school seniors, Alex Illikainen, a 6-foot-9 forward from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, playing at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire; Brevin Pritzl, a 6-foot-3 guard from De Pere, Wisconsin, and Charlie Thomas, a 6-foot-8 forward from Clarksville, Maryland.