MADISON - Sam Dekker's University of Wisconsin teammates know all about it.
"If I hit a big shot in practice, they'll say, 'state tournament,'" said Dekker, a freshman on the Badgers basketball team.
The ribbing is the result of an off-balance, last-second, game-winning three point shot Dekker his as a high school senior last year for Sheboygan Lutheran. In the state championship game. Played at the Kohl Center.
"That stuff's over with. Hopefully I can make those types of plays here," said Dekker.
He's off to a good start on making some new memories in Madison. He's fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 9.2 points per game. The Sheboygan native hit the second most three-pointers on the team, converting 42 percent of his attempts from long distance. He's also dishing out a good amount of assists and reeling in his share of rebounds.
"Being a high-energy player and giving our team a lot of positive things," said Dekker. "Scoring or contributing, opening shots for other guys, getting a big rebound or something. That's something I feel like I've been able to carry over to the college level."
Dekker was even named Big Ten Freshman of the Week in mid-January after Wisconsin's win over Illinois.
Dekker's had to do this all in something of a new role. He's appeared in every game for the Badgers this season, but started just three. He said this is the first time he's regularly come off the bench since playing AAU basketball his freshman year of high school, but it's a transition he has embraced.
"Playing all over the country the past four years of high school, I wasn't always ‘that guy,'" said Dekker. "I would cut without the ball, move, find shots and stuff like that. That's part of my game, and any good player has to have that element in their game."
Dekker's play has even impressed his teammates. For the freshman, he says that manifests itself at practice, where the older players go right at him.
"They expect a lot out of me, I expect a lot out of myself," said Dekker. "They don't see me as a freshman; they see me as somebody who should go out there and be a leader."
Those veterans say they expect Dekker to continue to integrate himself in the Badgers offense.
"Offensively he's very skilled," said senior forward Mike Bruesewitz. "He's good obviously. As he shoots the ball more confidently, too, he's definitely a big part of our offense."
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