Wisconsin's men's basketball program will welcome six players as part of its 2020 class. AllBadgers.com will begin a series where we hope to discuss and break down these new Badgers, with the help of their coaches.
Josh Peltier may have coached forward Ben Carlson for just one year at East Ridge High School in Woodbury, Minn. However, he saw growth during the senior's final prep season before heading to Wisconsin as a member of the program's 2020 class.
Along with emerging more as a leader, especially via example, Peltier saw Carlson also improve his shooting both from the perimeter and free throw line. He believes his former player also became more versatile, a skill that he believes will continue to develop further even after a standout high school career.
"This year, he played positions one through five for us," Peltier said on Thursday afternoon, "so there was a good amount of time where he was bringing the ball up the court, as well as there were times where he was on the block with his back to the basket, and we tried to move him all around the court this year.
"So I think his versatility is something that I still think he has a long ways to go with, but he's also made some huge strides with that, and that's kind of an exciting thing for him that he's able to be where he's at today."
Answers have been edited lightly for clarity and length.
What are some of the strengths that you see currently or at the end of his senior season that will translate over to Wisconsin?
"I think he's a perfect fit for Wisconsin. He's got that versatility where he like I said, he can play inside, he can play outside. I think for a while, he's kind of thought of as a 'back to the basket' kid, but he's really developed that perimeter game where he can play multiple positions. His strengths overall, he can shoot it well. He can handle it well for his size. He's very agile, and he moves really well and he's got a great bounce.
"I'd say his biggest strength probably is his rebounding right now. I mean he had over 1,000 rebounds in his career here. He finished as a 2,000-point scorer, 1,000-point rebounder, which is just absurd and just a huge credit to his work that he put in with all that. But I would say the rebounding, shot blocking, as well as his shooting is really, really improved. It's something that he does really well. I think that'll translate really well at the next level."
In terms of areas of growth, areas of improvement, what are the next steps for him once he gets to Madison?
"I think it's continuing to build all that skillset. Like I said, He's very, very skilled right now, but I think at that next level, he'll see the need to probably tighten up that handle a little bit, be more consistent with the shot, even though like I said, it's in a great spot right now. That's stuff that he's working on right now. I know that he knows everything he needs to improve with that. I think defensively ... shot blocking is great right now. Guarding on the perimeter probably is an area that he can, if we're really into finding areas to improve, he can step that up, but he does a great job with that right now. So I really say, just keep continuing to build out that skillset with the handle, with the shooting, and I think he'll be in good shape."
Is there a play or two from your time coaching Carlson that stands out to you the most about him?
"There's so many good ones, and when he has so many of them, they kind of all blur together. ... I'm going to kind of cop out, I might not see a play, but I'll just say a game that he had. In our second game of the year we went up, we played the No. 1 team in the state at that point in Park Center, who has Dane Dainja who's going to Baylor. You could just see Ben and the look in his eyes going into that game, and he went out and scored 40 points and we won that game that night. That was another school record that he set for an individual game.
"He didn't force anything. He took what they gave him, but we talked a lot about Ben being the best player on the floor, and having that confidence and belief in him -- because we believed in him and we know how talented he was -- and we just kind of challenged him that night. He went out and just was spectacular. Like I said, he didn't force anything. When they put things away, he found his teammates.
"That's one area of growth that I would say that Ben really showed this year was he trusted his teammates like no one else. He obviously was the focal point of our team, and teams were loading up on stopping him. Instead of forcing things, Ben always just made the right play, whether that was him attacking, whether that was him finding teammates for open shots in the perimeter, finding cutters. He was just so selfless this year that I think will fit in really well at Wisconsin, and it really showed in that game early on in the season where I mean it was just a spectacular game. It was a close game, so I didn't notice how many points he had until the end of it, but that can also just show that how much he just wasn't forcing it. He was just letting the game come to him and was just spectacular, especially against a top-75 player in the country in Dane Dainja."