We are sharing Wisconsin State Journal staffers' favorite work from 2019. From sports reporter Jim Polzin: I’d written a lot of stories about Ethan Happ during his five seasons at UW, but I was always curious about his roots as a small-town kid who grew up near the Quad Cities. When UW played at Indiana late in the season, I made a detour along the way to Milan, Illinois — excuse me, South Milan — and spent a day learning more about one of the most productive players in program history.
During my brief time as the UW football beat writer between Jason Galloway’s departure and Colten Bartholomew’s arrival, I’d heard about some of the Badgers using mindfulness to relieve stress and improve focus. I didn’t know much about it, so I explored the topic and was fascinated by what I found.
I’ve written multiple stories on the Howard Moore family tragedy, starting with the news story the day of the accident. I picked this one because Alando Tucker is so close to the Moore family and his decision to fill Howard’s role, while difficult, was exactly what the program needed in a time of healing.
It was no secret that Kobe King’s father played in the NBA — it’s listed in the bio of the UW sophomore wing. I’d spoken with King about it in passing but hadn’t done a story on it. When I chose King as the cover story for our 2019-20 preview section — mainly because I thought he was ready for a breakout campaign — I decided I wanted to explore the relationship between Kobe and Chris King and see if that would be part of the story. It turns out, they don’t have much of a relationship at all. This was a delicate subject, obviously, but both Kobe and his mother, Julie Platten, were open to discussing it. After interviewing each of them separately, I felt it was only fair to try to get in touch with Chris King and give him a chance to explain why he wasn’t a bigger part of his son’s life. To Chris’ credit, he answered every single one of my questions during a conversation over the phone.
Greg Gard and his staff busted out of a recruiting slump by landing five scholarship players in the 2020 class. Putting together a class that large was a challenge in and of itself, but doing it while coping with the Howard Moore family tragedy made the story even more remarkable.
The headquarters of the unofficial Ethan Happ Fan Club is a red pole barn and its owner, Kelly Stevens, is the self-proclaimed mayor of South Milan. The way he describes it, it’s more state of mind than location.
Tucker steps in for Howard Moore, who was seriously injured in a car crash in May that took the life of his wife and daughter.
It’s not a stretch to say Kobe King has the highest ceiling of any player on the UW roster, and a breakthrough season for him would go a long way in helping the Badgers return to the NCAA tournament despite losing Ethan Happ and Khalil Iverson.
Coaching staff assembles program's highest-rated class while reeling from the devastating loss endured by the Moore family.