MADISON - Most players wouldn't give up a potential starting spot on a division 1 roster to ride the bench at another division 1 institution. Then again most people don't have the mindset of Zach Bohannon.
Bohannon has been sparsely used during his tenure at Wisconsin, playing in 27 career games and has scored a total of 27 points. He's seen action in only 10 games this season, playing no more than three minutes, but don't think the senior from Marion, Iowa, has walked around with a frown on his face.
"Any time you are part of success it's going to be enjoyable," said Bohannon. "That's the biggest thing. Whenever the team is winning and you aren't playing as much as you could be, that's the thing that gets you though, just the success of the whole and the success of the team. That's really what it's all about, the success of your team."
Purdue (15-14, 5-11) on Wednesday when he is honored along with fellow seniors Evan Anderson and Ben Brust.
"It's been so special that it's hard to really describe," said Bohannon.
Bohannon, like his older brother Jason Bohannon, choose Wisconsin because of the program's reputation, success that will continue this season with the Badgers finishing in the top four of the Big Ten for the 13th straight season under Bo Ryan and are just weeks away from the school's 16-straight NCAA tournament appearance.
Wisconsin also has a shot at winning the Big Ten title, but would need to win out and have Michigan lose its final two games. That's why Bohannon has had zero regrets about his decision to transfer from Air Force to Wisconsin prior to the start of the 2011-12 season.
"I am one of those people who weigh the pros and cons of every decision that I have made, and that's one of those big decisions at the end of my sophomore year at Air Force," said Bohannon, who was in position to compete for a starting spot as a junior. "I knew it was something that was going to affect me not only in the short term, but in the long term for the trajectory of my life.
"At that time I made the best decision to transfer and I knew if I was going to go to a bigger school I probably wasn't going to play much at all. Anything that I would play would be icing on the cake."
Bohannon downplays his leadership role on the team, saying his limited minutes limit his voice, but his positive influence in the locker room, staying upbeat when UW lost five of six (he reminded players that his older brother's team lost six in a row and still finished top four in the Big Ten in ‘09), and his dogged work on the scout team haven't gone unnoticed.
"I think he's a real good leader," said UW assistant coach Gary Close, a close friend of the Bohannon family. "You just watch him on the bench during the game and he's a great teammate. He works hard in practice. He's been around a little bit, so he can help you out with some stability on the scout team. You always appreciate guys who come and work hard every day and don't get a whole lot out of it in terms of playing."
Bohannon's role has been limited, but doesn't deny that he's enjoyed the opportunities when they've come. When Wisconsin was in foul trouble at Minnesota, Bohannon was summoned in the first half to pick up critical minutes in the low post.
"It helps when you get a chance to be a contributor for a success team," said Bohannon. "Whenever I do get a chance, I try to make the most of it. Sometimes I am thrown into a situation where I might not be an advantage in those situations, like at Minnesota guarding their five man.
"It's one of those situations that whatever I'm thrown in I'm going to do the best I can to the best of my abilities and whatever I am capable of. I know sometimes I am not able to contribute as much as I can, but I just have to keep my head up and know the next opportunity I get might be my last one and the only one I get, so I have to make the most of it."
Bohannon talks proudly of his growth as a basketball player since high school. A defender who once simply guarded players underneath the basket, Bohannon credits Ryan's system, as well as the defensive-minded system at Air Force, for allowing him to improve his perimeter skills to be able to guard players at the 3-point line.
"In the past three years I've substantially improved my footwork," said Bohannon. "I know I am still behind some of the other people at my size on the perimeter. I just know how far I have come in that regard, and that's something I pride myself on the most."
Currently working on his MBA in the UW School of Business, Bohannon is hoping to transition into politics. But before possibly making a presidential run in the future, Bohannon wants to be a part of a team that makes a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
"Obviously he's not getting the minutes that everybody wants to get, but that shows you the type of man that he is," said Ryan. "He's getting ready for a the lot of other things for the next 60 years that are pretty important in his life, and we're certainly glad he did it with us as far as finishing his education and his basketball. He's pretty special."