In the age of Wi-Fi, Twitter and smartphones, it's still amazing how connected we are and how fast news travels. I can be on vacation in Florida and still follow how well a random high school basketball player is performing in a basketball camp up north.
The downside of constant access to information is I couldn't escape a nagging feeling of "What's going on with Wisconsin's recruiting?"
If you're scoring at home, current and former Top 100 recruits have spurned the Badgers for Iowa State and Iowa in the last week or so. With Wisconsin's Advanced Instruction camp Wednesday and Thursday, plus team camp Friday and Saturday, plenty of prospects have been around Madison. But unfortunately, not as many as there could have been. Every time I checked in, another piece of recruiting news had me shaking my head.
Among the big-name players scheduled to attend leading up to advanced camp were:
2013 - Maverick Morgan, Nathan Taphorn, Jalen Norman
2014 - Peyton Allen, Ethan Happ, Max Rothschild, Seth Bonifas, Malek Harris, Keita Bates-Diop, Reid Travis
2015 - Alex Illikainen
Only the names in bold wound up attending. Maybe showing recruits old photos of the coach would've worked better?
Morgan very well might have been offered a 2013 scholarship following UW's camp this week. However, after a visit to Champaign, the center quickly snapped up Illinois' offer from Tuesday. Obviously, Matt Thomas didn't need to come after he narrowed his choices to Iowa State and Virginia on Monday. Thomas officially chose Fred Hoiberg's Cyclones yesterday.
Several players from the Illinois Wolves program were expected to attend. Amanze Egezeke pulled out due to injury ahead of time; the rising junior may be more of a priority after Semi Ojeleye makes a decision this fall. Egezeke's travel teammate, Keita Bates-Diop, did not make it to camp either and yet another 2014 Wolves standout, Malek Harris, opted to prioritize next week's Iowa and Marquette visits apparently. Egezeke, Bates-Diop, and Peyton Allen all visited Michigan last weekend, while Harris and '15 guard Jordan Ash of St. Joseph's were part of a big hosting weekend at Indiana. Bates-Diop got his Michigan offer this week, which may curtail future interest from UW's staff.
On the positive side, a sampling of players who attended but were not publicized includes '13 forward Alec Peters and '14 point guard Tevin King.
A scan of the twitterverse today showed no reports of Wisconsin bombarding any prospects with text messaging on the first day of new contact rules. Per usual, the Badgers appear to be taking a more subtle approach to the process. And the subtlety seems like a slight disadvantage to me. (UPDATE: Wisconsin placed calls to at least Jalen Norman, Harris and Egezeke.)
Against competition that oversigns and jettisons unwanted "baggage" down the road, Wisconsin is actually giving scholarships to players who were willing to play for free! Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel referred to it as having "character" and I think the description is apt. On Tuesday, Bo Ryan gave Jarrod Uthoff's old scholarship to incoming freshman Zak Showalter of Germantown. Ben Worgull's sources inside the athletic department claim the schollie is a one-year deal at this point. However, there's no reason to believe Ryan would pull the offer out from under Showalter if he upholds his end of the bargain. Bo's track record shows he treats scholarships as 4-5 year commitments.
While Showalter's reward was not totally unexpected -- in addition to Uthoff's scholarship, there was an extra 2012 already being banked -- the extension of another 2014 offer to Ethan Happ, an up-and-coming shooter from the Quad Cities area, was a surprise. Though just a rising junior, Happ sounds similar to Duje Dukan at 6'7" and barely 200 lbs. After a great camp, Happ picked up another offer during his Green Bay visit today and will visit Iowa and Wisconsin again in the coming weeks. If Happ values character, we might be looking at the first UW commitment for the 2014 class.
So not all recent news has been discouraging. In fact, though 2013 power forward Nigel Hayes said he was not planning a Wisconsin visit and would make his choice in the next month, he recently backpedaled off that statement and listed the Badgers in his top two alongside local powerhouse Xavier, saying he just didn't have anything planned to UW right now and he may push back his decision. However, in my opinion, it still feels like he favors staying home with the Musketeers right now.
The bottom line is to enjoy following Badger recruiting, you must revel in "character" more so than being the "belle of the ball." The amount of recruiting noise -- down to by-the-minute accounts of who calls or texts whom -- is growing larger and more ridiculous. With all the flashier programs out there, you'd have to be a super sleuth to dig through their noise to what's really going on with the Badgers.
NBPA Top 100 Camp
Bronson Koenig garnered plenty of kudos during Day 1 of the Top 100 camp on the University of Virginia campus, with '13 big man Kyle Washington displaying a well-rounded game as well. The only reason Koenig may never rise again to his previous lofty rankings is that scouts harp on his inability to break his defender down 1-on-1. But Koenig does everything else so well that everyone loves him. He fit right in on a stellar first day roster that included HS No. 1 Jabari Parker.
Jabari Parker with the deflection ahead to Keonig for the 2 handed flush...#bounce— Top 100 Camp (@Top100Camp) June 14, 2012
Bronson Koenig showing off impressive court vision...representing Wisconsin— Top 100 Camp (@Top100Camp) June 14, 2012
Bronson Keonig impressive early...does a bit of everything for his team...#doitallguard— Top 100 Camp (@Top100Camp) June 14, 2012
#top100campBronson Koenig @bkoenig_24 Bo Ryan will use him immediately. College ready winner. A master at using screens. #sotough— Tim McCormick (@TMcCormickESPN) June 15, 2012
Love how engaged Nigel Williams-Goss and Bronson Koenig are in stations. Watching them push eachother to get better is what it's all about!— Top 100 Camp (@Top100Camp) June 14, 2012
Bronson Koenig continuing to play well early in session 2. He's got the intangibles that makes players successful. #definitionofabadger— Top 100 Camp (@Top100Camp) June 14, 2012
Can't wait to watch @samdek1 and Bronson Koenig team up in the future at #Wisconsin for Bo Ryan . Watch out @bigtenconf@JeffRabjohns— Paul Biancardi (@PaulBiancardi) June 15, 2012
Felt Bronson Koenig had his moments this am here, when I was looking at him. Smooth PG with swagger who can handle, shoot and distribute.— Clint Jackson (@clintjackson1) June 14, 2012
Besides Koenig and Washington, many other recruits UW is after are participating. Akoy Agau and Peter Jok are rooming with Koenig. Kevon Looney, Ojeleye, Devin Williams, Rashad Vaughn and Cliff Alexander have all impressed, though Wisconsin doesn't have much of a chance with either of the latter two players.
Washington may come around to the Badgers eventually, and would provide a much-needed defensive presence. He said he plans on taking a visit to Louisville this month, but Wisconsin was the first name out of his mouth when listing schools that will probably make his final list. For awhile now, I've liked UW's chances with Washington better than those with Thomas or Ojeleye.
Ojeleye is all over the map when talking to reporters. Just after he mentioned Wisconsin in glowing terms last week, his dad tells one source that Duke is his top choice, while another says he refused to name the Blue Devils No. 1 personally. He also gives much love to Indiana when speaking to an IU hoops reporter. Ojeleye has plenty to think about -- and about 10 schools to cut from his list -- before his decision this winter.
U18 USA Basketball
Finally, Sam Dekker is still battling a bum ankle as he practices with Team USA in Brazil for the FIBA Americas U18 Championships. Tournament play beings Saturday after three days of practice. He and Showalter will be roommates once they both make it to campus. Showalter is playing in the WBCA All-Star game on Saturday.
Go even further in depth with recruiting by checking out B5Q's Wisconsin basketball recruiting hub.
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