University of Wisconsin: Pat Connaughton of NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks to speak at celebration for 2020 graduates

Deer District is expanding to Camp Randall, at least for a day.

Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Pat Connaughton will be the keynote speaker Sept. 18 for the UW–Madison 2020 graduate celebration at Camp Randall Stadium. The Bucks won the NBA championship July 20, thrilling the tens of thousands of fans who watched the clinching game in Deer District, the outdoor plaza of Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum.

As previously announced, UW–Madison will welcome graduates of spring, summer and winter 2020 back to Madison Sept. 17-19 for a celebration of their achievements. The weekend of events will allow the 2020 graduates to gather in person to mark the completion of their degrees — something they were not able to do last year because of the pandemic.

The Saturday celebration at Camp Randall will feature Connaughton, who helped the Bucks power past the Phoenix Suns four games to two in the NBA Finals. Connaughton averaged 9.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. The victory — the first title for the Bucks in 50 years — propelled Milwaukee into the national spotlight and set off an exuberant statewide celebration.

“For a lot of Bucks fans, the championship win was one of the best moments in an otherwise dark year,” says Kayla Huynh, who served as communications director for the class of 2020. “Having Pat as a speaker just feels fitting because he shows that success can come in even the hardest of times. It’s the perfect last hurrah, a way to celebrate all that we’ve accomplished in the past year and to finally close the chapter on our time at UW–Madison.”

Connaughton, of Arlington, Massachusetts, was a two-sport star — basketball and baseball — at the University of Notre Dame, graduating in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in business management. A second-round NBA draft pick, he played three seasons for the Portland Trail Blazers, then signed with the Bucks in 2018.

Off the court, Connaughton founded the With Us Foundation, which works to provide access to athletics for all kids through camps and clinics. He’s also helping to grow the city of Milwaukee through his real estate development company, Three Leaf Development. One recent project replaced a dilapidated duplex near Fiserv Forum with a four-story apartment building.

The Sept. 18 celebration at Camp Randall is being planned as an event that will be open to family members and friends. It will adhere to all COVID-19 campus health and safety guidelines in place at the time. It will not be a commencement ceremony. With the official conferral of degrees having taken place during the spring and winter virtual ceremonies of 2020, this event will celebrate the achievements and persistence of a class whose final year was interrupted.

Other events planned for the weekend:

Friday, Sept. 17: The Class of 2020 Grad Night at the Memorial Union Terrace will feature music, photo opportunities and food, including a complimentary scoop of Babcock ice cream.
Saturday, Sept. 18: In addition to the afternoon celebration at Camp Randall, an exclusive, free Class of 2020 Concert at The Sylvee in the evening will feature co-headliners Yung Gravy and Jesse McCartney. Rapper Yung Gravy is a 2017 UW–Madison alumnus whose music has been streamed more than 1 billion times and whose debut album landed in the Top 5 of Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. McCartney is a platinum-selling singer, songwriter and actor whose first three albums charted in the Top 15 of Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart.
Sunday, Sept. 19: The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association will welcome the Class of 2020 to a complimentary strolling brunch at Alumni Park.