La Crosse native and former Wisconsin Badgers standout Bronson Koenig has had a standout high school and college basketball career in his home state, and it will be continuing – now at the professional level – as he has signed with the Milwaukee Bucks as an undrafted free agent.
The team announced the deal on Thursday, and Koenig posted a photo on Instagram of him signing the two-way contract, the terms for which allow a G League player to spend time during the regular season with his affiliated parent team and gain NBA experience. Financial details for the contract was not disclosed, as per team policy.
Koenig played four years at the University of Wisconsin, appearing in 148 games, including 94 starts, while making the Final Four twice (2014, 2015) and the National Championship game in 2015. In 2016-17, the 6-foot-4 guard played in 36 games and led the Badgers in scoring (14.5 points per game), while making a single-season, school-record 103 3-pointers. He finished his college career with the most 3-pointers made in program history, with 270, and was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team and the Big Ten All-Tournament Team following his senior season.
NBA rules permit teams to have two Two-Way players on their roster at any given time, in addition to their 15-man regular-season roster. A two-way player for the Bucks would provide services primarily for the team’s G-League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, but could also spend up to 45 days in Milwaukee – not including any time prior to the start of the Herd’s training camp and at the conclusion of his season.
Koenig will spend most of his time in Oshkosh with the Herd, but there are basketball-related and financial incentives to getting a call-up to the Big Show. A player on a two-way contract makes his G-League salary while playing for an affiliate team, and a prorated NBA salary while playing with the parent club. Two-way players make a minimum of $75,000, but can earn as much as $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend on an NBA roster.
Before going off to play for the Badgers, Koenig led La Crosse’s Aquinas High School to two WIAA Division 3 state championships. A proud member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Koenig has embraced becoming a role model for Native Americans and been an outspoken critic of Indian names as mascots. Last December, he wrote an article for The Players’ Tribune about his experience at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in Standing Rock, North Dakota.
The P.R.-savvy and ever brand-conscious Bucks perhaps saw not only a good basketball player, but also a potential fan favorite and statewide ambassador for the newly formed Herd.
In other news Thursday, the Bucks announced they’d also signed undrafted rookie JeQuan Lewis from Virginia Commonwealth University to a free-agent contract. Lewis averaged 15.2 points, 4.5 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 35 games (all starts) as a senior at VCU, earning All-Atlantic 10 First Team and All-Atlantic 10 Tournament Team honors. A 6-0 guard, he is the only player in VCU program history to record 1,400 points, 500 assists and 200 steals during his career. He ranks fifth all-time at the school in steals (203) and sixth in assists (503).
Both Koenig and Lewis are set to compete on the Bucks’ NBA Summer League team in Las Vegas, starting Friday.
Earlier Thursday, Milwaukee officially finalized its draft-night trade with the Philadelphia 76ers to acquire the rights to second-round pick Sterling Brown, and also announced the signing of first-rounder D.J. to a rookie-scale contract.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.