MADISON – After several seasons of being shorthanded, the University of Wisconsin finally has a full roster to work with.
After using its two remaining scholarships on Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy athletes Aleem Ford (forward from Lawrenceville, Georgia) and D’Mitrik Trice (point guard Dayton, Ohio), head coach Greg Gard announced Wednesday that freshman Michael Ballard (Oak Park, Ill.) has been accepted by UW admissions and will walk on to the team in the fall.
“We are really excited to welcome Michael to the team,” Gard said in a statement. “He is everything we are looking for in a walk-on: hard worker, team player, great student and can hold his own on the court as well. He comes from a winning program at Fenwick and should be a great addition.”
Leading Fenwick High School to a mark of 28-3 and the Chicago Catholic League title in 2015-16, the 6-5, 200-pound Ballard ranked second on the Friars averaging 10.3 points per game, while grabbing 4.2 rebounds per game and shooting 39 percent from 3-point range.
Despite being plagued by an ankle injury for much of his senior season, Ballard still managed to lead Fenwick with 17 points in the Class 3A Westinghouse Sectional semifinal win over Farragut. As a junior, Ballard averaged 15.9 points and 6.4 rebounds while connecting on 46 percent of his 3-point attempts (69-151).
The completion of the roster means freshman Jackson Bax and junior Will Decorah will not rejoin the team. According to a UW spokesman, both players were brought on with the intention of having them for only one year while the roster was undermanned.
Decorah led Waunakee (WI) High to three consecutive conference titles and served as a team manager for two seasons before being elevated to the roster. Bax won his walk-on spot via an open tryout in October.
Decorah played in four games and Bax played in three. Neither registered a point.