As a senior in high school, Sam Dekker put Sheboygan Lutheran on his back in the state championship game, scoring 12 of his 40 points in the last 50 seconds, including the game winning three, leading the Crusaders to their first title on the hardwood
"Yeah in the timeout before I said that I'm not going to tie this game I'm just going to hit it and they said Ok! And I came down and I did it," Dekker said in 2012
Dekker's first taste of success on the Kohl Center floor, was just a glimpse of what was to come. He went to Madison and started contributing immediately, averaging 22.3 minutes a game last year as a freshman for Wisconsin.
"I'm still young and I'm still learning but I feel much much comfortable this year, much more relaxed and feeling like I know I belong out there. Last year there were times where you're a little hesitant at times and stuff so you grow up every game you gain more experience, learn more things that you can and can't do and you just gotta go home and reflect on some of the things you did and hope to get better the next day."
Dekker's high school coach was his father. He explains the most important charateristic he learned from his dad was discipline. Now in college, when Sam makes a miscue he gets pulled. It's a different dynamic Dekker knows he must conform too.
"It's just his coaching style and I gotta get used to it. He expects a lot out of me and I take that as a compliment because he sees me as a player that can help this team. You know at times I do some things that I shouldn't, make a turnover, stupid shot or something and he takes me out and lets me collect myself and puts me right back in."
One of just four Wisconsin natives on the Badgers roster, Dekker says he wears the jersey of his home-state school with pride.
"We kinda have a joke with the guys from Wisconsin on the team always team up Wisconsin boys. We think we're the coolest ones on the team cause we're from here and growing up watching the Badgers all the time then putting Wisconsin on your chest is really important.
In high school it's a reward to get to play championship games on Wisconsin's court... Dekker treats every day at the Kohl Center with that same mentality.