Wilkinson receives his due

Badger forward preseason All-Big Ten selection

MADISON—During Wisconsin's men's basketball media day last week, head coach Bo Ryan lamented how far the limelight is from his best player, senior forward Mike Wilkinson.

"I just think he's the most under-publicized player in the country," Ryan said.

Ryan was referring in particular to the August announcement of the preseason top 50 candidates for the Wooden Award, which goes to the nation's best player.

"Devin [Harris] wasn't on that and Mike's not on it this year," Ryan said. "You know, those kinds of things do not surprise us here at Wisconsin….[Wilkinson] might not be that explosive, wiry guy that jumps out of the gym or does anything that electrifies a crowd. He just gets things done."

Wilkinson's workmanlike approach does get noticed in Big Ten country, though, and Wednesday he was acknowledged as a member of the preseason all-conference team, as voted on by conference media.

"It's nice to get recognized but we haven't done anything yet," Wilkinson said. "You never know who's going to come out and play well, what teams are going to play well. My main goal has always been team success. I just want to win games."

Wilkinson, Ryan said, has had no problem earning respect around the conference.

"Regionally I think he does [get publicity] and that's a start," Ryan said. "As far as catching somebody's eye outside of this region, no, he doesn't get the respect that I think he deserves. It doesn't bother Mike any.

"Mike also knows that if the team does well all the rest of it comes along with it."

Wilkinson averaged 13.1 points per game last season, second on the team, and led the Badgers in rebounding for the third consecutive year. He could finish his Wisconsin career in the top five in school history in scoring, rebounding and steals and may end up the school's all-time leader in minutes played, offensive rebounds and blocked shots.

"Mike has earned that [preseason honor] by being so consistent with his play, what he brings, night in, night out, with his effort and the fact that he's been honored to that extent is fantastic," Ryan said.

"It doesn't matter so much what my stats are as long as we win," Wilkinson said. "I'm just going to continue to go out and do whatever it takes to help the team win. If that gets me on [an all-conference team], that gets me on there. If it doesn't, you know, it doesn't. I just want to win games."

Wilkinson is the only senior on the preseason All-Big Ten team, joining a quartet of juniors: Illinois guards Dee Brown and Deron Williams (the preseason player of the year), Michigan State center Paul Davis and Indiana guard Bracey Wright.

"It's just nice to get a little notoriety here but my goals and focuses still stay the same," Wilkinson said. "Try and improve myself and do whatever I can to help the team win."

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