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Xavier Amos picks Wisconsin basketball: What does NIU transfer bring to Badgers?

Written by on April 29, 2024

Wisconsin basketball added its second transfer portal commitment in as many days when former Northern Illinois forward Xavier Amos pledged to the Badgers on Monday.

Amos, a Chicago native who is 6-foot-8 and will have two years of eligibility remaining, is part of a roster rebuild that began Sunday with the addition of Central Arkansas point guard Camren Hunter.

“I just think I’m a very versatile wing/forward,” Amos said. “I can play on the perimeter, I can play in the post, I can attack the rim, play in transition. And also defensively, I can guard 1 through 4 and I’m going to keep fine-tuning things, getting better. I just feel like I’m going to be a nightmare on both ends of the court.”

Amos appeared in eight games with one start as a freshman at Northern Illinois two seasons ago but said he suffered a high-ankle sprain before the season that limited him and eventually shut him down in early January. He had a breakout sophomore campaign when he started 25 games and averaged 13.8 points per game and a team-high 5.8 rebounds and ranked second on the team with 33 blocked shots. He missed six games due to a back injury but said he is now fully healthy.

What makes Amos an intriguing addition are the variety of ways in which he can help Wisconsin. He made 57 percent of his 2-point attempts and 38.5 percent of his 3-point tries (40 of 104). He scored a career-high 26 points last season against Northwestern when he made 11 of 15 shots from the field, which included 4 of 5 3-pointers.

Amos said some of the schools that contacted him once he entered the portal included Virginia, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and Xavier. He was initially supposed to visit Virginia last week but did not make the trip. Wisconsin represented his only campus visit.

Amos noted he was first contacted last Thursday by Badgers assistant coach Sharif Chambliss, spoke to head coach Greg Gard on Saturday and drove up with his parents Sunday for a five-hour visit. He toured the campus and facilities, ate lunch with the coaches, watched film of how his strengths could be utilized at Wisconsin and committed to the Badgers.

“I just feel like it was the place I’m going to develop at the most,” Amos said. “I’m very big on player development, preparing me as a man and as a player to reach the next level, be in the NBA. And I feel like this is the best situation for me. Talking to Coach Gard and the coaches, I just feel really at home here and very comfortable.”

What adding Amos means for Wisconsin

The first month of Wisconsin’s offseason featured four scholarship departures from the transfer portal, most notably starting point guard Chucky Hepburn and starting wing AJ Storr. Those moves, combined with forward Tyler Wahl using up his college eligibility, meant the Badgers had significant work to do in the portal.

In the last two days, Wisconsin appears to have shored up two of those areas, adding Hunter to replace Hepburn and Amos as a potential starting 4 alongside Steven Crowl in the frontcourt. Wisconsin still has one scholarship available for next season, and an option could be former Colorado State and Missouri guard John Tonje, though he still has to visit campus later this week.

“I’m very excited,” Amos said. “I talked to Camren yesterday, and we’re both just ready to get after it, get here in the summer, start getting some work in and work towards a national championship.”

Wisconsin is coming off a season in which it was once ranked sixth in the AP Top 25 but finished 22-14 and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to James Madison. As it stands, Wisconsin has a mixture of veterans and young players in its possible rotation for next season. Hunter, senior Kamari McGee and incoming freshman Daniel Freitag all can play point guard. Guard Max Klesmit is back after starting all 36 games, and sixth man John Blackwell also returns at guard. Other returning rotational pieces include Crowl and forwards Carter Gilmore and Markus Ilver.

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(Photo: Jeff Hanisch / USA Today)

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