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Wisconsin officially signs Tai Strickland, Joe Hedstrom for class of 2018

Get to know the two newest Badgers

Wisconsin welcomed two new members to its men’s basketball team on Wednesday, as head coach Greg Gard announced that guard Tai Strickland and center Joe Hedstrom officially signed their National Letters of Intent for the class of 2018.

Listed by Wisconsin as 6’2, 180 pounds, Strickland verbally committed late last month after averaging 17 points, seven rebounds, and three assists per game as a senior at St. Petersburg High School in Tampa, Fla. Strickland was named the Green Devils’ team defensive player of the year along with claiming first-team All-Pinellas County honors.

The son of NBA veteran Rod Strickland, Tai told B5Q last month that he believes there are several ways he can contribute at Wisconsin.

“I can definitely do everything. I can rebound, I can make passes, make plays for other people, and also, I can defend,” Strickland said. “There are some great point guards in the Big Ten, Carson Edwards, guys like that, and for me to be able to pick him up for 94 feet, and play him the entire time, that’s pretty big.”

Gard on Strickland:

“We are very excited to add Tai to our program,” Gard said. “His commitment to hard work, academics, and achievement at the highest level will be a welcome addition to Wisconsin. Tai’s background and pedigree will give him the tools and the foundation to thrive and succeed at all levels at the University of Wisconsin.

“As a transfer student at St. Petersburg High School, Tai had to fit into a program that was already well-established and set to compete for a state title. His ability to blend in smoothly with the already established talent and to continue to finish strong speaks volumes about Tai’s leadership and personality. Those character traits are what make him the perfect fit for our program. He has already bought into the totality of team and trying to figure out what he can do to help Wisconsin. Our staff was blown away by the high regard his coach, teachers and peers had for him at his high school.

“We are very excited about Tai’s future with us. He is just starting to scratch the surface of his basketball ability and the system we have will allow him to realize his full potential as a collegiate point guard.”

The 7’0, 225-pound Hedstrom verbally committed to be a Badger in mid-October, with Wisconsin confirming on Wednesday that the Hopkins, Minn., native will walk-on for the 2018–19 season.

As noted by UW, Hedstrom’s contributions led Hopkins High School to become a nationally recognized program (No. 38 in the country) and to a 26–2 record. He also claimed Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association all-star honors during his high school prep career. He played for the Minnesota Comets in AAU.

Gard on Hedstrom:

“Joe’s progress as a player has been trending in the right direction since we first saw him several years ago,” Gard said. “The improvements in his game, combined with how successful he has been in the classroom and community told us he was a great fit for what we are all about as a program. Joe impressed us with his understanding of the process of how to have success as a Badger.

“His natural size and strength, combined with a hungry attitude to improve, gives him an excellent chance to really develop and excel in our program. We are thrilled to add such a quality student-athlete to our program and look forward to helping him develop to his full potential.”

Strickland and Hedstrom join Michigan forward Taylor Currie as the three incoming freshman in Wisconsin’s class of 2018.