MADISON, Wis. -

Bronson Koenig is a name Badgers head coach Bo Ryan has been hearing about for almost a decade.

"Every 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th grade tournament that was ever played in Platteville, La Crosse, Madison, Stevens Point, Eau Claire. Every tournament that that young man went to people would say, 'Hey, hope I'm the first to tell you. There's this little guard. There's this guard out of La Crosse that is just killing people.'

"So Bronson, it wasn't like he's someone who all of a sudden appeared on the state scene. People knew about his ball handling skills and his ability to see the floor, and a competitor."

That "little guard" has turned into a big contributor for one of the top teams in the country. And earning minutes as a freshman under Coach Ryan is no easy task.

"It's been a really big learning experience for me, trying to learn his concepts on offense and defense," said Koenig. "Defense mostly I'd say."

"If you want to play and you've got some ability then you've got a chance," said Ryan. "So he's picked up in every area."

Koenig was a healthy scratch for the second game of this season. Then top reserve guard George Marshall went down with a concussion. The very next game versus UW-Green Bay Koenig scored seven points in 23 minutes of action. Then he helped Wisconsin a couple games later with a career high 10 points against Bowling Green.

"He knows now that he can compete and he's ready to get more," said Ryan.

"I feel we can run, we can slow it down. And what wins championships is defense and rebounding and I feel like we've been doing a pretty good job of both of those," said Koenig.