Wisconsin is not your stereotypical basketball-producing state. Right, it makes sense that the “Dairy State” would produce a higher number of football players than basketball players. And that is right, but I think that it is often understated how strong of a basketball tradition is in the state.
In the history of the league, 72 NBA players could claim that they were born in Wisconsin. Of those 72 players, 11 of them have played at least one minute this season. In this article, we’ll go over the careers of active NBA players who were born in Wisconsin.
This list of Wisconsin-born NBA players is in no important order, as the players are ordered alphabetically by last name.
Every Current NBA Player Born in Wisconsin
Ochai Agbaji – Utah Jazz
The first player to grace this list goes to one Ochai Agbaji. I know that you are thinking, “What? Agbaji was born in Wisconsin? That can’t be right.” Well, I thought the same thing too, but read that he was born in Milwaukee. In his childhood though, he grew up in the Kansas City area, giving a better reason as to why he chose to go to school at the University of Kansas.
Obviously, Agbaji is known for his time winning the NCAA Championship as the best player on an awesome Kansas team in 2022. His dominance has yet to translate, as the rookie is averaging just 4.6 points per game in Utah. Since the Jazz are currently in the bottom half of the Western Conference, they may start to tank and continue to rebuild. I would imagine that Agbaji is a part of that rebuild, as he has shot the ball very well in his short NBA career— just under 50% from the field and under 40% from three-point range.
Deonte Burton – Sacramento Kings
Born in Milwaukee and playing high school basketball at Harold S. Vincent High School, the same high school that produced Carl Landry and Rodney Buford, Deonte Burton committed to playing his college ball at Marquette. This choice came in part to wanting to stay close to home after his mother was diagnosed with cancer. At Marquette, Burton was struggling to find consistent playing time, but in the minutes that he was on the court, there was obvious potential. After his sophomore year, Burton transferred to Iowa State.
At Iowa State, Burton started seven games in his junior season, averaging nine points and four rebounds. He did show defensive skills too, racking up a handful of steals and blocks throughout the season. Due to his play on the court, Burton was awarded Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. Burton entered his name in the NBA Draft, but later withdrew it. In his senior season at Iowa State, Burton averaged 15 points per game and six rebounds, leading to a selection of second-team All-Big 12.
After not being selected in the 2017 NBA Draft, Burton bounced around from the Timberwolves’ Summer League team to the South Korean League, before signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He spent two years in OKC, averaging 2.6 points per game in 8.4 minutes of play a night. Burton eventually left OKC for the Maine Celtics of the NBA G-League. Sacramento claimed him in late 2022 for its G-League affiliate, the Stockton Kings, where he currently is.
Johnny Davis – Washington Wizards
Johnny Davis was somewhat of an unexpected commodity at the University of Wisconsin last year. Born in La Crosse, Davis was a standout player at La Crosse Central in High School. Go back and watch the highlights of La Crosse Central vs. Minnehaha High School in 2020. In that game, Davis’ La Crosse Central faced Jalen Suggs’ and Chet Holmgren’s Minnehaha team. What people don’t know though is out of the three NBA players on the court, Davis was the best player, proved by his 42 points. What made it so interesting is that Davis was a stand-out on a team that included Kobe King and Davis’ twin brother Jordan. Now, after seeing his career at Wisconsin, it is clear that he is much better than both his brother and King.
As a freshman at Wisconsin, Davis spent most of his time coming off of the bench, averaging seven points and four rebounds. While those numbers are not very high, much like Burton, Davis’ defensive skills were very evident. In Wisconsin’s major win over Houston in 2021, Davis led the way with 30 points.
In his sophomore season, Davis upped his scoring numbers to 19.7 points per game and was named Big Ten Player of the Year, as he led Wisconsin to a Big Ten title share.
Davis was drafted 10th overall by the Washington Wizards in the 2022 NBA Draft. While Davis has yet to make a major impact in the NBA, he figures to be a nice, young piece for Washington as they head towards a rebuild.
Michael Foster Jr. – Philadelphia 76ers
Born in Milwaukee, Michael Foster Jr. made his name known during his time at Washington High School of Information and Technology. As a freshman and a sophomore, Foster led his team to two straight state runner-up finishes. Foster then transferred out of state to Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix, AZ. As a senior, Foster put up just north of 32 points per game and 18 rebounds. Instead of going to college, Foster went to the NBA G-League, playing for G-League Ignite.
Foster went undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft, before signing an Exhibit 10 contract with the Philadelphia 76ers. After the 76ers had signed Saben Lee, Foster was released to free agency, but he made his way back to Philadelphia’s G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats.
Tyrese Haliburton – Indiana Pacers
You could argue that Tyrese Haliburton is the best current NBA player born in Wisconsin. Haliburton was a stand-out guard at Oshkosh North, where he led the school to its first state championship victory in his senior season. During that season, Haliburton averaged just south of 23 points per game. One of the best games in his high school career saw Haliburton’s Oshkosh North team matched up with Jordan McCabe’s Kaukauna team. In a win, Haliburton scored 42 points.
Haliburton elected to spend his college career at the University of Iowa State. As a freshman, Haliburton averaged 6.8 points per game and three assists. As is the case with many players from Wisconsin, even though the scoring was low, the defense was evident. That was proved by Haliburton being one of two true freshmen with 50+ steals and 30+ blocks. The other? Zion Williamson. In his sophomore season, Haliburton was named to the second-team All-Big 12. He averaged 15.2 points per game and 6.5 assists. A wrist injury forced Haliburton to miss a portion of the season. Also in the season, Haliburton recorded the first Iowa State triple-double since Monte Morris in 2016.
Finally, Tyrese Haliburton was drafted 12th overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2020. He immediately showed that he can contribute in the NBA. During the season, his high point came as he scored 38 points in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. In his second season, Haliburton was at the forefront of one of the biggest trades of the year when he, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson were traded to Indiana for Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday and Jeremy Lamb.
While in Indiana, Haliburton was awarded with an Eastern Conference Player of the Week. The very next week, Haliburton became the first player in NBA history to record 40+ assists and 0 turnovers in a three-game stretch. On Dec. 23, 2022, Haliburton had his best NBA game in his career, scoring 43 points on 10 made threes, including the game-winning shot against the Miami Heat. Haliburton was selected as an All-Star in the 2022-23 season.
Sam Hauser – Boston Celtics
If you remember those awesome Stevens Point High School teams that were ranked nationally, Sam Hauser was the best player. He did share Wisconsin Mr. Basketball with teammate Trevor Anderson, but really, Sam Hauser was the best player on that team. In his junior season at SPASH, Hauser averaged 18 points per game and led the state in three-point percentage, at 50.6 percent. Hauser scored 25 points in the state championship against a Juwan McCloud-led Germantown team. In his senior season, he averaged 18.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game en route to another state championship.
Hauser committed to Marquette to play college basketball. In his freshman season, Hauser averaged 8.8 points per game, 5 rebounds and 1.3 assists, while shooting 45.3 percent from three. Early in his sophomore season, Hauser recorded 30 points against Eastern Illinois. He matched that total almost a month in a half later in a loss to Butler. Coming into his junior season, there were high expectations for Marquette, as Hauser was joined by his younger brother Joey. During the season, Hauser topped those 30-point scoring performances when he dropped 31 on Georgetown. Hauser was eventually named to the All-Big East second team after averaging 14.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists. In an effort to find a better fit for his game, Hauser joined Tony Bennett and the Virginia Cavaliers for his senior season. As a senior, Hauser averaged 16 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists, electing to declare for the draft.
Hauser went undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft but signed a two-way deal with the Boston Celtics. His two-way deal was eventually turned into a standard NBA contract and Hauser joined the Celtics roster for the 2022 NBA Finals. After signing a three-year deal, Hauser’s biggest moment of his NBA career came when he hit a deep, game-tying three against his hometown team, the Milwaukee Bucks.
Tyler Herro – Miami Heat
So, I said that Tyrese Haliburton was probably the best current NBA player from Wisconsin. Tyler Herro would be another contender. Playing at Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Herro put together one of the best high school basketball careers in the state. He is currently tied for 41st on the Wisconsin All-Time scoring list. Herro was awarded a First-Team All-State selection in his senior year after averaging 32.9 points and 7.4 assists per game. While playing in high school, Herro committed to Wisconsin before his junior season. After decommitting, Herro ended up at the University of Kentucky, playing for John Calipari.
Only spending one year in Lexington, Herro averaged 14 points per game. He was the only player to start all 37 games for Kentucky, shooting the ball at a 46.2% clip. Herro was awarded the SEC Rookie of the Year award and was named to the SEC All-Second team.
Drafted by the Miami Heat at the 13th overall pick, Herro scored 29 points in his fourth game. He was eventually selected for the Rising Stars game. After the Miami Heat beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, Herro became the first player in NBA history born in the 2000s to appear in a conference finals game. In the Eastern Conference Finals, Herro recorded 37 points in Game 4, becoming the fourth player in NBA history to score 30+ in a playoff game before turning 21. Only Magic Johnson scored more. After the Celtics beat the Heat, Herro once again became the first NBA player born in the 2000s to appear in the NBA Finals. In these playoffs, Herro set the record for most consecutive playoff games scoring in double figures by a rookie. That was a 44-year-old record held by Alvin Adams.
During the 2021-22 season, Herro moved to a sixth-man spot and was awarded the Sixth Man of the Year award— the first Heat player to do so. In late 2022, Herro signed a four-year, $130M contract.
Jalen Johnson – Atlanta Hawks
Born in Wausau, Jalen Johnson became one of the best high school prospects in the country, going to school at Sun Prairie High School, Nicolet High School and IMG Academy. He scored 15.2 points per game during his freshman year at Sun Prairie, then he led Sun Prairie to a regional final, where they were upset by a Keshawn Justice-led Madison East team. Johnson was then able to lead Sun Prairie to a D1 state semi-finals appearance. That was the first appearance in school history. Johnson then transferred to Nicolet High School, where he helped to lead Nicolet to a State Championship in his junior year. Johnson transferred to IMG Academy in Florida for his senior season, but he transferred back to Nicolet without appearing in a single game for IMG. As a senior, Johnson averaged 24.6 points per game and 10.9 rebounds in nine games.
Ranked 13th on ESPN’s recruiting site, Johnson committed to play basketball for Coach K at the University of Duke. In his first college basketball game against Coppin State, Johnson recorded 19 points and 19 rebounds. In February 2021, Johnson made the decision to forgo the rest of the season and prepare for the NBA Draft. At Duke, Johnson averaged 11.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in 13 games.
Johnson was selected with the 20th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. He was eventually assigned to the Hawks’ G-League affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks.
Kevon Looney – Golden State Warriors
Out of the 11 current NBA players that were born in Wisconsin, Looney absolutely has had the most success. Born in Milwaukee, Looney flat-out dominated the high school basketball circuit at Alexander Hamilton High School. As a freshman, Looney received college offers from both Wisconsin and Marquette. In his sophomore season, Looney was named Milwaukee City Conference Player of the Year, averaging 20.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Looney upped those numbers in this junior year, scoring 26.1, grabbing 12.4 rebounds and recording 7 (!) blocks per game. He then recorded close to a quadruple-double in his senior season in high school, averaging 27.9 points, 12.7 rebounds, 7 assists and 8 (!!) blocks per game. Being the only good player on Hamilton, Looney was able to develop strong dribbling and passing skills, greatly improving his college offers. For his accomplishments, Looney was recognized as a McDonald’s All-American, just the sixth-ever player from Wisconsin to be honored with this distinction.
In a move that no one saw coming, Looney committed to play college basketball at UCLA. In the first game of the 2014-15 season, Looney recorded 20 points and nine rebounds against Montana State, leading many to say that this was one of the best freshman debuts in Bruins history. Looney became the first UCLA freshman with four double-doubles in his first five games. In a double overtime win against Stanford, Looney recorded 27 points and 19 rebounds. In the Pac-12 semi-finals, Looney was forced to wear a mask after being elbowed in the face the game before. This greatly hampered his game, as he recorded just five points and four rebounds. In his only college basketball season, Looney averaged 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, recording 15 double-doubles. He was awarded a Pac-12 All-Second Team honor.
Looney was drafted 30th overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 2015 NBA Draft. After bouncing back and forth between the Warriors and their G-League affiliate Santa Cruz Warriors, Looney scored two points in his debut game against Dallas. Being a part of the 73-9 Warriors, Looney was forced to get surgery on his hip after aggravating a hip injury from college. Looney finally became a rotational player for Golden State in the 2017-18 season. With centers Zaza Pachulia, David West, JaVale McGee, Jordan Bell and Damian Jones on the roster, Looney had his work cut out to get minutes. Due to his ability to switch onto smaller defenders, Steve Kerr gave Looney the opportunity that he was looking for, eventually helping Golden State to a title.
Looney re-signed with the Warriors in 2018-19 and started the season as a reserve center. After Jones sustained an injury, Looney was inserted into the starting lineup, but he was again replaced when DeMarcus Cousins returned from injury. In 2019, Looney once again re-signed with the Warriors but was forced to miss time due to a nerve injury in his hamstring. In the 2020-21 season, James Wiseman assumed the starting center spot but was replaced by Looney after injury. One of Looney’s best games in the NBA came in 2023 when he scored the game-winning tip-in in a double-overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks. He finished this game with 14 points and 20 rebounds.
In total, Looney is a three-time champion with the Golden State Warriors, with Kerr calling him a major franchise piece.
Jordan Poole – Golden State Warriors
Our second Golden State Warriors player born in Wisconsin, Jordan Poole, played his high school ball at Rufus King High School in Milwaukee before transferring to La Lumiere High School in La Porte, Indiana. In 2015, Poole committed to playing college basketball at the University of Michigan. When he committed, he was ranked as the second-overall prospect and the first shooting guard. Poole transferred to La Lumiere for his senior season. While there, Poole was a member of the 2017 Dick’s High School Championship team. In the game, Poole recorded 13 points, beating an R.J. Barrett-led Montverde Academy.
At Michigan, Poole scored 19 points in the team’s opening conference game against Indiana. To finish the regular season of his freshman year, Poole made nine threes against #8 Ohio State. During the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Poole hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning three to beat Rob Gray’s Houston team. In the Final Four against Loyola-Chicago, Poole scored seven points, including the go-ahead free throws late in the game. Michigan eventually lost in the championship to Villanova. During his sophomore season at Michigan, Poole scored a career-high 22 points against George Washington. Poole eventually scored his career-high in college with 26 points in a win over South Carolina.
Poole was drafted by the Golden State Warriors 28th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. Like Looney, Poole bounced around in the G-League with the Santa Cruz Warriors before becoming a rotational piece. In early 2020, Poole returned to the Warriors, where he scored 21 points in a win over the Orlando Magic. With Klay Thompson missing the entire 2020-21 season, minutes opened for Poole. On May 14, 2021, Poole scored 38 points in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
To open the 2021-22 season, Poole beat out Otto Porter Jr. and Damion Lee for the starting SG spot. As Thompson returned back to the lineup, Poole was pushed to the bench, where he broke out. Stephen Curry was sidelined late in the season, giving Poole point guard duties. Poole scored 20+ points in 18 of the final 20 games. Poole edged out Curry in the highest free throw percentage in the NBA that year. In his first playoff game, Poole recorded 30 points against the Denver Nuggets. The Warriors eventually took down the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.
Due to his combo-guard skills and incredible shooting ability, Poole is often cited as the third splash brother.
Alondes Williams – Brooklyn Nets
Born in Milwaukee, Alondes Williams played his high school basketball at Riverside University High School in Milwaukee. As a senior, Williams averaged 12.3 points per game.
Williams started his college career at Triton College in River Grove, IL. While there, he averaged 13.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, leading Triton to the National Junior College Athletic Association Championship. In his sophomore season, Williams upped his production to 17 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. For his junior season, Williams transferred to Oklahoma, averaging 6 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. Williams upped that his senior year to 6.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
Williams used his last year of eligibility to transfer to Wake Forest. As a Demon Deacon, he posted the school’s second-ever triple-double, then he scored a career-high 36 points the following game. He averaged 18.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, taking home the ACC Player of the Year award. Williams went undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft, before signing a two-way contract with the Brooklyn Nets.