Wisconsin Badgers Leuer and Taylor Among Top 20 For John R. Wooden Award

On Monday, Wisconsin learned that their dynamic duo of Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor are among the top 20 candidates on the national ballot for the John R. Wooden Award.

The Wooden Award is given out to the nation’s best player and is considered the most prestigious individual honor in all of college basketball.

Wisconsin joins Duke (Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith) and Purdue (JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore) as one of only three schools with two players on the national ballot.

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Wisconsin Basketball All-Decade Team

By: David Kay

Up until the late 1990’s, the Wisconsin basketball program was mired in mediocrity and lucky to finish at or above the .500 mark.  However, the beginning of a new century marked a new era for the Badgers.

In 2000, the school made their first ever trip to the Final Four, making a magical run as an eight seed.  Since then, the Badgers have experienced continued and steady success.  It is no surprise that Bo Ryan’s arrival in Madison in 2001 helped cement Wisconsin’s status as a serious player in the college basketball scene.

Ryan has raised expectations, helping lead the Badgers to ten straight trips to the NCAA Tournament.  The 2000’s saw UW claim a share of three Big Ten titles and two Big Ten Tournament championships.  Here is a look at Wisconsin’s All-Decade Team:
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My Day with Devin Harris (part 1)


by: David Kay

In an era in which professional athletes are too often egotistical and appropriately labeled as “divas” or “pre-madonnas,” it is refreshing to come across a player like Devin Harris.  Despite his newfound stardom in the NBA, the Wauwatosa East product and former Badger has stayed humble and not forgotten his roots.

I recently had the opportunity to follow the New Jersey Net All-Star point guard behind the scenes at one of his free basketball camps for his “34 Ways to Assist Foundation” which teaches under-privileged kids in the Milwaukee and Madison areas not only fundamentals of the game, but also life lessons.

“We didn’t have much,” Harris told me of his childhood in an exclusive sit-down interview.  “We were kind of a lower-middle class family. My parents did a great job of making me understand that remember where I came from and always try to help people in need.”

nets-harris1And that is exactly what Harris is doing through his charity which benefits youth in Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and other similar groups.

What I found most interesting about following Harris during a camp in Stoughton, Wisconsin, was his involvement in the drills and interaction with the kids.  “I’m here every day,” Harris told me.  “Some guys just show up to the camp for an hour and speak to the kids.  I like to get involved, play a little bit.  It’s easy to write a check sometimes and leave it at that, but I have a kick out of it.”

You could certainly tell he was getting a kick out of it; stepping in during 3-on-3 games, rebounding, passing, and dribbling drills, even challenging kids to a game of knock-out (or lightning as some people call it.)  He was constantly smiling, laughing, and joking around with the camp goers who intently followed his every word.

During a Q&A session with the kids, he was asked what his favorite kind of pancakes are, what is favorite song is, and who is better LeBron or Kobe.  (For the record, his answer was Kobe.)  He handed out autographed basketballs to selected kids who had reached certain achievements in the classroom, and gave away a signed pair of his new Adidas kicks.

“Kids especially, they want to be us, they see us in powerful positions so even if we don’t want to be role models, we’re still looked upon in that light.  Obviously to come back and do the things that I’m doing, means more to the kids than anybody.”

devin-layup1And in a time when the media is often looked at as the greater evil by pro athletes, Harris was very friendly with me (maybe because he knew I would be reporting on his interactions throughout the day.)  But there definitely was a genuineness to him that further proves he is one of the good guys who has not let his fame and fortune get to his head.

In Wednesday’s part two of my day with Devin, Harris talks about his new role as the focal point of the Nets offense, the Vince Carter trade, and the much-anticipated 2010 off-season in which New Jersey figures to be major players.