The next few weeks will be pivotal for the men's basketball team off the court as a couple of prospects to whom Wisconsin has offered scholarships will be visiting Madison.
During the second July evaluation period, the coaching staff did not dole out scores of new offers, but concentrated on showing existing recruits the quan. In particular, associate head coach Greg Gard was tireless on the recruiting trail. In August and September, the coaches now hope to close on a few recruits while allowing the beautiful late summer campus to do a lot of the convincing for them.
First up is 2012 shooting guard Eron Harris at the end of the month. All the evidence points toward Harris really wanting to become a Badger as soon as he visits the campus on Wednesday, Aug. 31, a standard prerequisite for a Bo Ryan recruit. That feeling was only strengthened in my mind after Harris' tweeted this following his Aug. 7 visit to Dayton:
Calling a visit to one of your top two schools "nice" tells me the kid was not blown away by anything the Flyers had to offer. However, word just this morning from the Indianapolis Star says Harris has scheduled an official visit with Dayton for Sept. 9. He is also reportedly visiting Georgia State on Sept. 2.
Iowa center Adam Woodbury wants to pick his college sometime around the start of the high school season and I'd bet the Badger scholarship will be spoken for by that point. Considering many scouts believe Harris is merely a mid-major level recruit, I still believe he snatches up UW's offer soon after his visits are complete.
The other familiar name that will visit is big man Kyle Washington from the wide open 2013 class. The slender lefty is pushing 6'9" now and has the chance to be a big-time shot blocker. Washington, who shot up in priority for a number of schools since the Badgers extended an offer back in June, will be in town at the end of the August according to 24/7's Evan Flood. He will play his junior season out east, but luckily Wisconsin has a good relationship with the Howard Pulley AAU program that Washington plays with.
Originally there was at least one more visit planned from this class -- for Pittsburgh point guard Geno Thorpe. Thorpe had pushed back his visit date previously and as of last week, planned to be on campus the night of Sept. 1 for Wisconsin's Thursday football opener against UNLV. Not a bad way to make an impression on the young fella. Alas, personal reasons have led Thorpe to cancel the trip. It's tough to predict whether he will follow through on plans to reschedule.
Does Thorpe have his heart set on the Pittsburgh despite the recent 2012 commitment from Top 50 PG James Robinson? Is Wisconsin getting vibes leading it in another direction?
Despite UW going all in for Bronson Koenig, the staff would not hesitate to take both Koenig and Thorpe in this class if it had the room. You need only to look at this year's incoming crop to see that Bo Ryan is willing to take two potential point guard-types (Marshall and Jackson) in the same year. Lamont Paris made evaluating Thorpe a priority. The Shaler Area High School junior is an athletic talent that has been described as having great vision and point guard skills.
However, the Badgers need help at forward in the 2013 class and there are only three openings. But that hasn't stopped the program from offering Cincinnati's Josh Davenport, another guard. This latest offer may be more to hedge Wisconsin's bet on the wing with Semi Ojeleye.
It's possible Wisconsin has renewed optimism regarding Koenig and thinks that getting a commitment from Harris boosts the need to go big in 2013. No one knows for sure yet, but as players make their visits, certainty looms right around the corner.
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