MADISON - Duje is free.
After being forced to sit out four competitions by the NCAA due to them granting him only a partial medical redshirt two seasons ago, Duje Dukan will make his season debut on Wednesday against Green Bay.
“Can’t wait,” the University of Wisconsin senior said on Monday. “I can’t even put into words how excited I am to put the jersey back on and get ready to get out with the guys on Wednesday.”
Dukan missed the closed scrimmage against DePaul, an exhibition game against UW-Parkside and UW’s first two wins of the year over Northern Kentucky and Chattanooga. That was because the NCAA determined that the mononucleosis he battled prior to the 2012-2013 season did not incapacitate him for the entire year, and that the 11 minutes he played in an exhibition game before deciding to redshirt disqualified him for a full medical redshirt.
UW coach Bo Ryan, his current teammates and a former teammate, Zach Bohannon, went to bat for him, even starting a #FreeDuje hashtag on social media sites.
But that is in the past and his teammates are happy he’s back.
“Yeah, it’s huge for us,” senior Josh Gasser said. “Duje is an incredible player. Just gives us another scoring option that we already have.
“He’s been waiting for his time so long in his career. Freshman, sophomore, his redshirt year, (junior year), so he was really excited about his senior year, and now I think he’s even more excited to get back at it after being forced to miss those two games.”
Dukan was back with the rotation players during practice on Monday after spending the past few weeks on the scout team following the NCAA’s ruling. At 6-foot-10, 218 pounds, Dukan adds to the Badgers already big lineup, and his ability to hit from 3-point range will put stress on defenses that had more than enough weapons to deal with before.
“If you guys have been here the past how many months, you guys can see what he can do,” junior Sam Dekker said. “Spread the floor, bring it inside with his size, and his skill that he has all over the floor, so we’re excited to get him back. Another weapon we have and something else other teams have to worry about.”
A year ago, Dukan played in all 38 games, averaging 2.8 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. But he finished the season on a strong note, scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds in the national semifinal against Kentucky.
“It’s good to add another dimension to the game,” senior Frank Kaminsky said. “Duje is a unique player and skill set for his size so he’s really going to help us on offense and the defensive end.”
Dukan has spent the first two games sitting on the bench in a suit, and when a reporter mentioned that it was a good look for him, he was appreciative but happy he wouldn’t be wearing it again.
“Thank you but I like the jersey outfit better.”
Happ to redshirt
Freshman Ethan Happ plans to redshirt.
It was first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The 6-foot-9, 230-pound, Happ was still unsure whether he would sit this season or not as late as last Wednesday. He was weighing whether it would be worth it to play a few minutes this season and potentially help a team that has Final Four aspirations, or redshirt and then play a lot more as a senior.
UW’s depth in the front court certainly played a role in his decision as seniors Frank Kaminsky and Duje Dukan, junior Sam Dekker and sophomores Nigel Hayes and Vitto Brown will dominate a majority of the minutes this year.
There is no deadline to redshirt, so if injuries hit, Happ is available for the Badgers.
Happ joins sophomore guard Jordan Hill and freshman guard T.J. Schlundt as players redshirting this year.