Men's Basketball

Wisconsin announces departure of forward Alex Illikainen, leaving Badgers with thin frontcourt

Forward Alex Illikainen announced his departure from the program Monday, leaving Wisconsin with just three healthy players 6'6" or taller.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger and Cameron Lane-Flehinger

The Wisconsin basketball team’s frontcourt got a little thinner Monday, as the team announced senior forward Alex Illikainen has left the program.

The 6'9" Illikainen, a Grand Rapids, Minnesota native, appeared in 85 games over the course of three seasons, averaging 1.5 points and 1.3 rebounds. He slowly lost minutes each year: in the 2017-2018 campaign, he played under eight minutes a game after contributing 9.8 his freshman year and 8.3 his sophomore year. He did not make an appearance in the Badgers’ season-opening win over Coppin State Tuesday, and didn't check in until late in the exhibition against UW-Oshkosh.

Though he would be eligible to transfer and play one season for another school, Illikainen will remain enrolled at UW-Madison and finish his degree.

“We wish Alex luck as he continues to pursue earning his degree from the University of Wisconsin in May,” head coach Greg Gard said in a statement. “We also want to thank him for his efforts during his three-plus years with our program.”

If Wisconsin continues to elect to redshirt freshmen Taylor Currie and Joe Hedstrom, it will leave the team with just three active players 6'6" or taller — seniors Ethan Happ and Charlie Thomas and sophomore Nate Reuvers — until sophomore forward Aleem Ford is able to return from knee surgery.

The Badgers, now a man down, face a major early-season road test Tuesday against Xavier in Cincinnati.

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