Recruiting: Bo Ryan going big in 2015

Henry Ellenson is one of the most skilled young big men the state has ever seen. - Shane Opatz/Leader-Telegram

The youngest son of former Badger John Ellenson is getting the full court press on the recruiting trail. He's one of several big-name -- and big-bodied -- recruits Wisconsin is trying to reel in for the 2015 class.

You may have heard his name before, or maybe just his last name, but Henry Ellenson is kind of a big deal.

Henry Ellenson's oldest brother, Wally, is on scholarship at Minnesota (for basketball or track & field, who knows anymore). A third Ellenson boy, Ellwood, committed this spring to play college hoops at Bemidji State. Young Henry, who will be a junior in high school this fall, is better at basketball than both of them.

The kicker is music to Bo Ryan's ears: Ryan would like Henry Ellenson to become a Badger legacy recruit. His father, John Ellenson, was recruited to Marquette by the late Rick Majerus in 1986, only to transfer to Wisconsin for his final two seasons, where he was a team captain his senior year.

Even at 6-foot-9, Henry has inherited his father's shooting touch. John ranked third in the Big Ten as a senior by shooting .379 from long distance and his youngest son has been terrorizing Rice Lake opponents in since he was a freshman. Henry hasn't lost a Big Rivers Conference game yet (24-0).

Two months ago, the Badgers finally made Ellenson's scholarship offer official. The gesture was a mere formality after months of talking with him and his family while monitoring his game.

It is also one of several early offers out to the high school class of 2015. The state class looks very nice in Wisconsin, and Ryan is hoping to make a big splash in a number of ways. With consensus top-three national prospect Diamond Stone grabbing a lot of attention from every major school early in his career, Ellenson might be the most skilled, overlooked recruit anyone can remember. He would be the giant prize in-state if it weren't for Stone.

While Ellenson received his first offer from Georgetown, he says Wisconsin and Creighton are recruiting him the hardest right now. Ellenson just missed the cut this past week for Team USA's U16 squad (which Stone made) after averaging a double-double last season, with 21 points and 11 rebounds per game for Rice Lake as a sophomore. After going through U16 training camp together, Ellenson and Stone will square off with their respective high school teams in December at the WBY Shootout in Milwaukee.

Ryan has a few other big offers out to date, including those to Chicago guard Charles Matthews and Ohio big man Carlton Bragg. Playing for St. Rita High School, Matthews is the top-rated point guard in the 2015 class.

Now that schools like Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan State are involved, standing out to Matthews becomes a tough task.

Bragg, at 6-foot-8, is one of the top power forwards in the class nationally. Assistant coach Lamont Paris continues to prove he's not afraid to attack top targets in his old stomping grounds.

Going after four such highly-touted players with fervor this early in the game is a silver lining afforded to the UW coaching staff for only having had one full ride available in the previous class up to this point. Rockridge, Illinois' Ethan Happ has accepted the lone official scholarship in 2014.

But this isn't the first time UW's coaching staff has put itself out there to top national recruits. In fact, you could argue it's becoming a trend. Wisconsin was one of the first programs to extend an offer to Anthony Davis when he exploded three years ago, even though most viewed him as a long shot. The Badgers did not shy away from the Midwest's loaded 2014 class, offering top-shelf prospects in Cliff Alexander and Rashad Vaughn. In addition, UW reportedly already offered top 2016 prospect VJ King from Akron, Ohio.

* * *

Today marks the start of Wisconsin's advanced instruction camp, which runs through Sunday, June 9. Here are a few of the confirmed attendees:

2014

Malik Clements, G, Madison (WI) West

2015

Levi Bradley, F, Milwaukee (WI) Pius XI
Matt Heldt, F/C, Neenah (WI)
Cody Schwartz, F, West DePere (WI)
Aaron Jordan, G, Plainfield (IL) East
Nick McGlynn, F, Stoughton (WI)

2016

Jack Popp, F, Mequon (WI) Homestead
Trevor Anderson, G, Stevens Point (WI) *Update: no WIAA baseball conflict
Sam Hauser, G/F, Stevens Point (WI)

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For more Wisconsin basketball coverage, follow Phil on Twitter @hoopsmarinara.

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