The entire Wisconsin coaching staff hit the ground running at multiple sites last week as the first of two recruiting "quiet periods" this month started July 6. The 10-day period continues through Saturday, July 16 and is highlighted this week by the NY2LA Sports Summer Jam in Mequon, Wis.
Coaches cannot talk face-to-face with recruits (or recruits' parents) outside of their college campuses during this time, but they can call or write them. Nevertheless, it is great to hear that Bo Ryan continues to be very visible at AAU events. The explosion of Twitter has made it even easier to disseminate info on who's watching whom and showing up at what events.
Ryan spent last Thursday in Indianapolis at the adidas Invitational, where his first priority was watching Sam Dekker, Bronson Koenig and the Wisconsin Playground Warriors. The superlatives continued to flood in for Dekker as the Badger commit proved he is one of the nation's finest talents, maybe even worthy of McDonald's All-American status.
As usual Ryan was joined by dozens of other big-name coaches monitoring Koenig. We even found out that Duke is prepared to go after Koenig. Not to be out-done, Ryan was front and center for Koenig's games on all three days to extend his amazing attendance record with the La Crosse Aquinas junior guard.
The next order of business for UW's head coach was watching the Ohio Basketball Club (OBC) take on the Atlanta Celtics. Among the numerous D-1 prospects on the OBC 16U team is 6'2" combo guard Kevin Johnson, who picked up a scholarship offer from Wisconsin this weekend. Johnson is more shooter than distributor at this juncture, but has good length and athleticism -- an emerging theme with Wisconsin's 2013 offers.
Johnson's is the fourth confirmed scholarship offer in the class, as Garfield Heights head coach Sonny Johnson confirmed to me that Tony Farmer does not yet have an official tender from the Badgers.
The surprise of the adidas event was the rise of Lawrence (IN) North guard Eron Harris. A big-time shooter, Harris ran with the Indiana Elite over the weekend and is reportedly on the verge of a Badger offer. The burst of interest is significant for two reasons. One is that Harris is the second player in as many weeks -- after Iowa center Adam Woodbury -- to garner a Wisconsin offer for the 2012 class, so it appears Ryan doesn't want to roll that opening over to 2013. Secondly, the Badgers are trying to pilfer from a state (and AAU program) that they have very little history with, yet plenty of competition. Indiana Elite has practically been a Hoosier feeder program for a couple years now. Harris, however, loves Wisconsin so an offer means Bo and lead recruiter Greg Gard like Harris' potential as much as Woodbury's.
Meanwhile, Lamont Paris began his first full summer with the Badgers by holding court in Mequon at the Next Level Invitational. Paris, who snuck in a recruiting trip down to St. Louis as well, was joined by fellow assistant Gary Close in the Milwaukee area. They were primarily evaluating SG Matt Thomas ('13) of the Wisconsin Playmakers and F Kevon Looney ('14) of the Milwaukee Running Rebels.
Thomas started out hot and only kept burning. The Onalaskan shooting guard wound up with a 42-point finale and his first Big Ten offer from Minnesota. But due to UW's sudden infatuation with Harris, Thomas may not receive a Badger offer right now even as his stock rises.
Looney, on the other hand, is one of the elite rising sophomores in the region. Thanks in part to his team's strong performance, Looney was named the 17U MVP of the Next Level Invitational. You would think that barring any academic barriers, the Milwaukee Hamilton forward will become the staff's top 2014 target in-state.
Rather than scout the Wisconsin Swing 17U squad in Mequon, Bo traveled from Indianapolis to Louisville to look seriously at Germantown big Luke Fischer, who has been offered by Marquette and Indiana already. Ryan watched the improving 6'8" power forward both Saturday, Sunday and Monday at Kentucky Hoopfest. Fischer was often overlooked on his Germantown team last season by Zak Showalter ('12) among others, but impressed onlookers with his passing and movement. His AAU teammates with the Swing include Showalter and Sun Prairie's Nick Fuller ('13). Wake Forest is also showing interest in Fischer.
Two other teams of note that the staff may or may not have caught at adidas or Next Level include Howard Pulley (Kyle Washington, Zach Stahl & Tyus Jones) and Meanstreets (Jaylon Tate) out of Chicago. Ryan was already watching Meanstreets play at the Nike Peach Jam today against all-world forward Jabari Parker ('13) and the Mac Irvin Fire.
Simultaneous events across the country also included players connected with Wisconsin at one point or another, though the summer evaluation time is helping to shake out which prospects are becoming a true priority. For instance, Terry Rozier ('12) attended the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Geno Thorpe ('13) took part in the Hoop Group Elite in Pennsylvania, and Malcolm Hill ('13) slipped out to the Reebok Breakout Challenge in Philly rather than come to Mequon with the SW Illinois Jets. Minnesota big man Carson Shanks ('13) ran with MN Select White at the Hoosier Shootout as well.
AAU events this week
* Next up is the Summer Jam, where teams like the Illinois Wolves (Nate Taphorn & Peyton Allen), Spiece Mo-Kan Elite (Semi Ojeleye), WI Swing, WI Playmakers and Milw. Running Rebels will be in UW's backyard. It should be easy for Bo & Co. to keep tabs on Thomas if he continues to light it up.
* The EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam features a select group of teams that UW will keep an eye on: Woodbury and Mike Gesell play for All-Iowa Attack; Washington will be playing with Pulley; Rozier and his crazy wingspan will be with All-Ohio Red. This event is the crown jewel of the summer circuit.
* Keep an eye on Indiana Elite and Harris for a possible offer during Minnesota Pump n Run's Best Buy Summer Classic.
* Kentucky Hoopfest concludes with the WI Playground Warriors and WI Swing both attending, fully stocked with Dairyland talent. Ryan continues to stay close to Koenig and Dekker.
* The OBC 16s will play in the West Virginia JamFest later this week. Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers have already offered Farmer and sure to be heavily involved with several of the same 2013 recruits as Wisconsin, including Johnson.
Recap of recent offers
Possible upcoming offers
* 2012: SG Eron Harris
* 2013: PF Luke Fischer
Stay tuned on Twitter @hoopsmarinara for your most important Badger recruiting updates!