Showing his Moxy

Tying a 2007-08 Wisconsin scoring high with 25 points at Michigan, freshman Jon Leuer showed the Big Ten what he's all about. He also showed his coaches, who weren't expecting a performance like that from an 18-year-old freshman this soon.

MADISON – There's plenty of things Badger fans knew about Jon Leuer before he even stepped on campus.

He was a Minnesota State All-Star selection and second team all-state selection after he averaged 23.2 points and 12 rebounds in his senior season at Orono High School.

At 6-foot-10 and 210-plus pounds, Leuer is a hard player for Wisconsin fans to miss when he's on the floor.

After the Michigan game on Jan.2, it's highly unlikely a Badger opponent will ever miss seeking off Leuer again.

In one of the best performances by a Badger freshman in a conference opener, Leuer simply could do no wrong in Ann Arbor. Going 8-for-9 from the floor, including a perfect 5-for-5 from three-point range, Leuer scored 25 points to lead the Badgers to a 70-54 win in the conference opener.

Leuer's 25 points matched sophomore guard Trevon Hughes for the highest single-game point total for a UW player this season.

"I went out there and I was open for whatever reason," Leuer said. "I was able to knock down my first couple and after that, I had some confidence and things just rolled on from there."

The Michigan game was not the first time Badger fans, however, saw the potential Leuer brought to the table.

Although Wisconsin got annihilated in its first trip to Durham, Leuer provided the only bright spot from the 24-point loss.

Playing in the first extended minutes of his career, Leuer scored 12 points in front of, according to him, the most hostile crowd he's ever played in front of.

"The whole atmosphere was crazy," Leuer said. "That was my first road game and it was a fun place to play."

With the Badgers returning a contingent of upperclassmen talent this season, Wisconsin knew that it would seldom rely on the wealth of talent in its freshman class. But, according to assistant coach Greg Gard, Leuer is anything but a typical freshman.

"He's brought a maturity that is beyond your typical freshman," Gard said. "His basketball IQ, moxy, his calmness on the floor have all really helped him develop. As he goes through his career, gets stronger and adds more weight, he'll be more and more effective. But just his understanding of the game in general is beyond the typical freshman."

"We knew that he would be a good player in time," Gard added. "But we did not think it would happen this fast."

Unlike past years when freshmen have taken their first year on campus to redshirt to become acclimated with the college environment and the rigors of the college schedule, the coaching staff, along with Leuer, felt that the Long Lake, Minnesota native possessed above all other traits, the ability to listen and understand.

"He does not get rattled, you don't have to repeat coaching points to him, picks things up real quick and when he makes a mistake, you usually don't see it repeated," Gard said about the prized pupil. "He's been a lot of fun to coach over the past three months."

Breaking down the Michigan game through Gard's eyes, the most impressive things about the young player's shooting performance was not the shots he made, but the shots he took. Calling Leuer very opportunistic and a players that ‘takes what is given to him,' Gard was impressed about how Leuer did not force any of his nine shots against Michigan and, as it turned out, eight found the bottom of the net.

"If he went one-for-eight, nobody is talking about it," Gard said. "He took what was presented to him but he made shots. He stayed consistent with his shots throughout the game."

Looking back over his first 16 games, Leuer says that getting his feet wet at Duke or his breakout game at Michigan have been nice, but the games he has played very little in or played poorly in have been just as instrumental to him in his growing process.

Trying to grow from every game, learn from his mistakes and institute confidence in his game, Leuer is developing faster than Badger coaches expected and opponents would have wanted.

"I treat every game equally because you can't get too high when you're up or too low when you're down," Leuer said. "Every game is the same and you have to look forward to the next one to see what you can do better."

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