June welcomed incoming freshman Ethan Happ to Madison along with the rest of the student athletes on the basketball team returning for summer session. There may have been a few more future Badgers in town this past week as well.
Wisconsin concluded its elite individual camp last week and its annual summer team camp over the weekend, which gave the staff an up-close look at players like Khalil Iverson, Reed Nikko and Kaj Days. Seems like every year a new scholarship offer is extended to one of the week's stars and this year was no exception. This time it was Hopkins (MN) star Amir Coffey from the 2016 class.
Though a few recruits, like Payton Pritchard, made additional stops on campus, recruiting won't heat up again until July. There are essentially three weeklong live evaluation periods for coaches beginning July 9. Not coincidentally, that is around the time major shoe company tournaments pick back up. These are the leagues that most of Wisconsin's top recruiting targets participate in. One benefit of the leagues is the organized bookkeeping, which helps recruitniks follow how well the players are performing.
Class of 2016
Amir Coffey, SG (Minneapolis, MN)
Though he is the son of a former Minnesota Golden Gopher and Timberwolf, Amir Coffey was too good to ignore at Wisconsin's team camp last week. Coffey scored 29 points in the tournament semifinals en route to the title. Perhaps most famous for his game-winning, half-court shot for powerhouse Hopkins in the state semis as a sophomore, Coffey has been the top prospect in Minnesota for 2016 for a long time and has no shortage of suitors. He tallied 14.5 ppg this past season before being named Second Team All-State. Coffey's father had some strong words about how he sees his son being utilized at the next level (read: combo guard, not a forward). That hasn't seemed to turn off Wisconsin yet, though the Badgers haven't had much height at shooting guard since Kirk Penney.
Coffey plays with Howard Pulley in Nike's EYBL:
Payton Pritchard, PG (West Linn, OR)
Pritchard's stock continued to rise as he impressed at the NBPA Top 100 camp last week and is drawing comparisons to Arizona's TJ McConnell. He has picked up offers from Virginia, Xavier and UNLV over the last few weeks, but for Badger fans the most important development was Pritchard stopping by UW on Monday and Tuesday for another unofficial visit. Wisconsin has made an impression on the West Coast youngster, which is nothing to sneeze at considering Bo Ryan's rep for developing floor leaders. I'm guessing the team's slightly more uptempo look this past season helps in this recruitment. Pritchard has all the intangibles you want and even outsiders see him as a nice fit for the Badgers.
Pritchard plays with Team Fast in the adidas Gauntlet:
Class of 2015
Diamond Stone, C (Milwaukee, WI)
Stone was recently upgraded to the top-ranked prospect in 2015 by Scout. He continues to play along with Malik Newman concerning their desire to be a package deal commitment. However, Wisconsin has deep ties here (specifically between Bo Ryan and Stone's father, Bob) that could make things interesting if the package deal falls through. In fact, ol' Papa Stone pumped the brakes on the package deal talk in a recent interview with InsideMDSports. Certainly not a bad sign for Wisconsin.
Stone plays with Young Legends in the Under Armour Association:
Henry Ellenson, PF (Rice Lake, WI)
The Ellenson hype machine is picking up steam. Henry vaulted into the top 10 in both the Scout and ESPN rankings after putting up big scoring numbers in the Nike league last month. He continues to show off his perimeter-oriented game with great handles for his size. Still a match made in heaven for Wisconsin's offense, but Ellenson can literally have his pick of school at this point.
Ellenson plays for Playground Elite in Nike's EYBL:
Josh Sharma, C (Lexington, MA)
With a lull in the AAU action, nearly half of the Northfield Mount Hermon roster took a gigantic midwest tour as a group, which included introducing Sharma to campuses like Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Indiana. And each one blogged about it, though Sharma's teammate Aaron Falzon got the nod when describing the visit to Wisconsin instead of Sharma. Sharma's stats are not super impressive this summer, but take it with a grain of salt. Summer ball isn't often about feeding the post, not to mention Sharma's minutes have stayed low. He is still a raw prospect with great potential, which reminds me a bit of how hard Wisconsin went after Nnanna Egwu a few years back.
Sharma plays for Mass Rivals in the adidas Gauntlet:
Jimmy Whitt, PG (Columbia, MO)
Seen by some as a combo guard, Wisconsin has always been looking at Whitt as a point guard with Brevin Pritzl already in the fold. To his credit, Whitt also recognizes lead guard as his future. He starred at the NBPA Top 100 camp as well, and is getting plenty of attention from nearby Illinois.
Whitt plays for KC Run GMC in the Under Armour Association:
Jarvis Johnson, PG (Minneapolis, MN)
Transitioning from the running partner of 2014's top point guard into the lead man for his AAU team has been an adjustment for Johnson. As the statistics from AAU attest, Johnson is still learning. It's a necessary step for the explosive, 6'1" guard. Johnson has been UW's top PG target for some time.
Johnson plays for Howard Pulley in Nike's EYBL:
Nike's Peach Jam is the culmination of the EYBL summer circuit and it tips off Thursday, July 17. The Under Armour equivalent, the "Association" finals begins the same day also, featuring teams such as Stone's Young Legends out of Milwaukee. The Super64 adidas tournament finale is the next weekend, July 23-27. Adidas is also holding an elite skills camp (adidas UNRIVALED) during the second week of July by invitation only. Possible Badger target Billy Wampler has been invited.
Some of the lesser tournaments will be played closer to home and still feature great competition of interest to Badger fans. NY2LA Sports is putting on their annual Next Level Invitational and Summer Jam tournaments on back-to-back weekends in July. Teams like the Wisconsin Playground Warriors (Pritzl), Milwaukee Spartans (Matt Heldt), Wisconsin United (Marshawn Wilson, Levi Bradley), Team NLP (Evan Boudreaux), Illinois Stars, Net Gain Sports, Illinois Irish, WI Swing, Wisconsin Academy (Sam Hauser, Trevor Anderson), Quad City Elite, WI Blizzard (Cody Schwartz), Wisconsin Playmakers, and ACB Bank Hoops (Seth Dugan) could be in the mix.
Local standouts in 2015
In May, Brevin Pritzl averaged 23 points at the NY2LA Invitational. The two-guard attended the NBPA Top 100 camp too and received the type of praise you'd expect of a Wisconsin commit. Sounds like he turned it on later in the week after a slow start.
Neenah's Heldt is an interesting case. He was a standout against pretty good competition this spring at events like the NY2LA Swish N' Dish and NY2LA Invitational, but is obviously not a priority with the targets ahead of him in his class. Like fellow in-staters Wampler and Schwartz who are also working for Badger offers, Heldt played in an a WBY Tournament in Kaukana with his high school teammates from Neenah in lieu of an appearance at UW's team camp. My gut tells me these guys will start narrowing their choices soon rather than keep waiting on UW.
For the record, Wampler averaged 16.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game for D1 Minnesota during the first three sessions of the adidas Gauntlet.
Potential transfer pledges to New Mexico
Chicago native Tim Williams was looking to transfer recently after completing his sophomore season at Samford. The 6'7" forward averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds last season and rumor had it he was planning to visit Wisconsin. However, Williams never made it to Madison and instead chose New Mexico over Iowa and others. Go figure. He will sit out next season.
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