Borchert leads red hot Titans by example

Cory Sparks, Editor in Chief

UW Oshkosh men’s basketball forward Levi Borchert is going on a tear in what has been a dominant season for himself and the team.

Borchert’s historic accumulation of accolades has helped set the tone for a Titans team that is currently ranked No. 3 in the country, according to

In April 2021, Borchert was named to the All-America Third Team, meaning he was ranked in the top 15 of all Division III basketball players in the country. He was also named the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) player of the week as recent as Jan. 25 after averaging 27.5 points and 12 rebounds in a two-game stretch against UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls.

Now averaging a collegiate career-high in points (18.4) and rebounds (10.7) per game, Borchert is leading the charge for a UWO team that’s attempting to defend its 2019 national championship run.

While Borchert is currently playing for one of the top D3 programs in the country, his roots in basketball extend back to simpler days.

He said his passion for basketball stemmed from playing with his grandpa in the driveway, and it all took off from there.

“I started playing basketball when I was young, like 5 or 6,” Borchert said. “I would always shoot hoops in the driveway with my grandpa and then that transitioned into being a regular at the YMCA.”

From the YMCA to organized basketball, Borchert worked his way up to playing for Kimberly High School.

Borchert said once he came over to UWO, he identified that his passion for the game rooted from building bonds with others and competing with guys who play and work as hard as he does.

“Playing college basketball is a lot about relationships and being able to compete at a high level in something that keeps me inspired and into it,” he said. “Every year getting to grow relationships with my team, become better as a group and compete at a high level with those guys is something special.”

When Borchert first arrived at UWO, the team was just a few months removed from winning the national championship.

Katie Pulvermacher / Advance-Titan
Borchert shoots a free throw in front of teammate Cole Booth.

Head Coach Matt Lewis, who was entering his second season at the helm at the time, said Borchert was someone who was quiet in dialogue, but impactful in play from the moment he joined the team.

“When Levi began at Oshkosh, he was a quiet kid that was trying to fit in with a talented group of upperclassmen,” Lewis said. “He battled every day in practice and tried to complement the older players in games.”

In Borchert’s first season, he put up 9.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. There was no tournament in his freshman season or his sophomore season, as the COVID-19 pandemic canceled NCAA tournament competition until just this year.

Borchert said even though the tournaments stopped, the team’s relentless desire to get better didn’t. He said the team was putting work in at all times, and they were constantly preparing for the opportunity to play for a national championship again.

“Losing last year to COVID has really made me appreciate a full season,” he said. “Last year, despite not having a full season, our team still practiced six days a week, invested in our game and got lifts in.”

Like the team, Borchert has improved certain aspects of his game in the last few years since competing nationally.

One category he has vastly improved in is rebounding, as he’s averaging 4.6 more rebounds per game this season (10.7 in total) compared to his freshman year (6.1).

Lewis said he refused to take credit for Borchert’s rebounding ability. He praised Borchert’s instincts and ability to time and track the ball after a missed shot.

“If you go back to his high school career, he has always been an elite rebounder,” he said. “His ability to read the ball off the rim is remarkable. Levi also has great hands and always seems to get a hand on the ball.”

Coming in at 6’5” tall and 210 pounds., Borchert typically plays the center position in a small-ball-style lineup that pushes the ball down the court quickly.

Borchert acknowledged that most centers are taller and weigh more, so putting on muscle became a huge priority for him. The junior also said he has worked on his shot more toward the perimeter and being able to spread the floor.

“Throughout the summer, I tried to put a lot of work in the weight room,” Borchert said. “Making sure I was physically strong to be able to compete with other players who are taller or weigh more than me was important. Also, I tried to improve my post game and my outside shooting ability.”

Lewis has taken notice of Borchert’s improvement over the years, and he said he commends the WIAC’s leading rebounder for knowing when to take a shot and when to pass the ball one more time.

“His performance this year has been huge for us,” Lewis said. “Levi’s teammates do a great job of getting the ball to [him] in spots where he can be successful, and Levi does a great job of knowing when to be aggressive and when to share the ball.”
While Borchert is having his best year yet, the man with 12 double-doubles even has his down days.

He said that when he does have a rough outing on the court, he learns from the experience and moves on to the next opportunity.

“I just try to flush it and have a better day the next day,” he said. “Everybody is going to have bad days, no matter who you are. Knowing that one bad day isn’t going to define me keeps me motivated.”

Lewis said he’s pleased with Borchert’s receptiveness to coaching. He also said he appreciates having a player who is both talented and willing to learn.

“Levi loves to be coached,” he said. “It’s awesome to get to work with a talented player like Levi that just wants to improve and help the team win.”

Borchert said his family, coaches and teammates are all responsible for helping him improve on and off the court, and have helped him become the player he is today.

“My family has been unbelievable in supporting me since I first joined basketball when I was little,” he said. “I’ve had amazing coaches at every level of basketball … who have pushed me to be my best. And I’ve also played alongside great teammates.”

Borchert and the Titans will play in the WIAC semi-finals as the one-seed following a double bye. Following the conference tournament, Borchert will look for his first deep postseason run in college.