Wisconsin demonstrated its confidence in Chucky HEPBURN months before by making him the Badgers’ first true freshman in over two decades to open a season.
Since then, Hepburn has been rewarding this faith.
The 6-foot-2 point guard made one of the most spectacular shots in program history Tuesday to help the 10-ranked Badgers defeat No. 8 Purdue defeated 67 to win a share in the Big Ten title. Wisconsin (25-54, 15-4 ) can win the title by defeating Nebraska (9-21, 3-16).
Hepburn stated, “It would be everything.”
Hepburn explained that a Big Ten title would be of greater importance than what it would do to Wisconsin’s program. Hepburn is using this season as a way to remember Vincent Burns (20 years old), who died in January.
Hepburn said, “I want do everything I can for him,” and was so close to Burns he calls him a brother. It’s always on my mind. He’s never left my head.”
Burns was shot to death Jan. 22 at a Omaha bar. Hepburn returned home less than a week after the shooting and scored 13 points in a victory over Nebraska. He then went to his friend’s funeral.
Hepburn has probably played his best basketball over the six weeks since.
Assistant coach Dean Oliver stated that “Honestly, we didn’t know if it would be possible to continue playing for a couple of weeks.” It’s impossible to predict how long it will take to deal with such a situation. He is an unbelieveably tough kid.
The Badgers were already aware of Hepburn’s toughness long before that.
Greg Gard, the head coach, cites Hepburn’s maturity, court vision, and feel for the game as reasons why he was chosen to be the first true freshman to open a Wisconsin season since 2001. Devin Harris, was the last freshman to attempt it. He went on to play 15 NBA seasons.
Gard stated, “I told him that in July.” I said, “Are you ready to this?” Because I’m going give you the keys if I keep going and doing the same thing. That’s because I see every day how important this position is to us.
These traits have also attracted the attention of Big Ten rivals.
Matt Painter, Purdue’s coach, said that he is a confident child. He’s a solid, strong guard. He plays hard. He is a scrapper. He has a lot of balls in his possession.
Hepburn scored 17 points against Purdue on Tuesday. Hepburn also capped the performance of banking with a tiebreaking 3-pointer at the Wisconsin bench, which took 1.5 seconds.
Doug Woodard, the coach at Bellevue West High School in Nebraska, said that Hepburn’s winning basket was very familiar. Woodard said that Hepburn’s 3-pointer against Creighton Prep was also a highlight of his high school career, which included three state championship games and one title.
Woodard stated, “It was almost at the same angle but on the opposite.”
Woodard was struck by the similarities and sent a text message to Hepburn in which he mentioned it. Woodard claimed that Hepburn replied by sending back a series smiley faces.
Woodard stated that Chucky may not have meant for it to be banked in but that he was willing to take the shot. He finds a way to make things happen in big moments.”
Hepburn’s shot was a big success, but it was his willingness to work hard that earned him respect from his coaches and teammates.
His numbers aren’t too impressive. He averages 8.3 points, 2.2 assists, and 2 rebounds.
Hepburn stated that she felt like she had played fairly, but not as well as I could.
He avoids turning the ball over – he only had four turnovers during Wisconsin’s five game winning streak. And he plays hard defense.
Tyler Wahl, junior forward, said that Tyler guarded him from the very beginning of practice or the first open gym. He was always up in my shorts and kept me safe. “I was like, ‘This kid wants it. He’s going be great.
His offense is now catching up with his defense. This was evident against Purdue when he captured a boisterous home crowd that couldn’t wait for him to thank them.
Hepburn stated, “I’m walking through campus and people take pictures with me, telling my, ‘Good shot.'” “That’s why I chose Wisconsin. It’s the kind of support that I love. Wisconsin has the best fan base.
Hepburn hopes to delight them for the next month.