You may not have noticed an exchange between former Wisconsin Badgers guard Zak Showalter and current Miami Heat sharp-shooter Tyler Herro on Wednesday night, but it was probably the most interesting thing to come out of the “Kobe King leaving the Badgers” saga.
This all started when Showalter tweeted this after King announced his decision to leave the Wisconsin basketball program:
Some play for the name on the back of the jersey, some play for the name on the front. ♂️— Zak Showalter (@ZShowbball333) January 30, 2020
We have the rest of the conversation screen-shotted below so you can see the back and forth.
Clearly @raf_tyler isn’t an avid reader of the site because we’ve already discussed this ad nauseam: in-state recruiting doesn’t matter as much in basketball! pic.twitter.com/ttng93NgRP— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) January 30, 2020
Before we continue lets take a quick tour down memory lane! Tyler Herro was the No. 37 prospect in the nation in the class of 2018, according to the 247 Composite, and he happened to attend high school at Whitnall near Milwaukee! What a fortuitous turn of events for the home state Badgers! Herro committed to the Badgers on Sept. 12, 2016 and it was a great recruiting victory for Wisconsin and Greg Gard.
As Herro’s star continued to rise, and after he switched AAU teams natch, he ended up decommitting from Wisconsin and signing a national letter of intent with the powerhouse Kentucky Wildcats. Many in Wisconsin were upset with the decision including...Wisconsin native and basketball player, Zak Showalter!
What are you doing!?— Zak Showalter (@ZShowbball333) October 18, 2017
Herro’s decommittment submarined the 2018 recruiting class as Gard had, foolishly, put most of his eggs in Herro’s basket. I believe that Gard learned a valuable lesson here and has improved greatly on this front moving forward, but that’s another story for another blog post. Anyways, the 2018 class ended up with three members:
- Center, Taylor Currie, 3-stars, No. 205 nationally by 247 Composite
- Guard, Tai Strickland, 3-stars, No. 303 nationally by 247 Composite
- Center, Joe Hedstrom, 3-stars, No. 386 nationally by 247 Composite
Currie is currently playing for Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan and will eventually transfer to Akron, Strickland transferred to Temple and Hedstrom, the only player still on Wisconsin’s team, is out for the season with an injury.
What’s done in the dark always come to light— Tai Strickland (@taistrickland13) January 29, 2020
So, uh, that class is basically an entire missed cycle for a Badgers team that will be going into this Saturday’s game against Michigan State with seven scholarship players.
With all of that background information out of the way, let’s dive into what Herro thinks about his home state’s flagship institution and their basketball program. Showalter apologizes to Herro and tells him that he just really wanted him to come to Wisconsin and Herro responds “appreciate you, but I’d still be at Wisconsin.”
I’d imagine the implication here is that Herro may have had to redshirt like a lot of other Wisconsin freshman, although that probably wouldn’t have happened, or that he wouldn’t have been featured in Wisconsin’s offense enough where his stats would allow him to be drafted in the first round, like at Kentucky.
Showy answers “Possibly, but idk. You different ::snorting/smoke blowing emoji::” and Herro ends the convo with this burn. “the states top talent would love to play for Wisconsin but not in that system. I think you can agree ?”
All of this is tough to hear from a Wisconsin native, who left the state to play college ball, became a first round pick after one year and is now an integral part of one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
But, is Herro correct?
This hews back to the age-old argument of “do you need in-state kids to stay home to be successful?” In football, I think we’ve proven that the answer for Wisconsin is yes. In basketball, it is much, much different. Is it a bummer when a kid from Wisconsin leaves and goes to Kentucky or Duke? Yes, it very much is. But it is not some sort of program killer.
In the 2019 class, the Badgers took one player, Tyler Wahl. He is not from Wisconsin, he is from Lakeville, Minnesota (where Nate Reuvers is from as well). He was rated a 3-star player coming out of high school with a .8926 rating. The top player from Wisconsin, Deontay Long, was also a 3-star player with a .8819 rating. He also was in legal trouble in high school and ended up taking a preferred walk-on spot at Grambling State.
So in this scenario, getting the top talent from Wisconsin was not a good thing. The other ranked prospects from Wisconsin went to Northern Michigan, Southern Illinois, Tulane and Buffalo. Not exactly the type of schools you want the Badgers to be competing with on the recruiting trail.
Johnny and Jordan Davis' father Mark tells me via text that Kobe's decision to leave Wisconsin has no effect on the twins' status. They're still all-in on the Badgers.— Scott Emerich (@ScottEmerich19) January 29, 2020
In the 2020 class, which is the best one in school history, the Badgers did land the top in-state prospect, 3-star Johnny Davis (and his twin brother 3-star Jordan Davis), but he’s only the second highest rated player in the class. Ben Carlson, of Saint Paul, Minnesota, is a 4-star recruit that also is coming to Wisconsin.
The 2021 class is currently rated as the best class in the whole country, and while it doesn’t include an in-state player (and probably won’t) and definitely won’t stay at No. 1 when all is said and done, the Badgers have commitments from three 4-star players, with the possibility of more to join them. Here is what 2021 4-star PG Chucky Hepburn thinks about the situation in Madison.
Patience.. Wisconsin basketball is going to be very tuff these next 5-6 #InGardwetrust— Chucky Hepburn (@ChuckyHepburn) January 30, 2020
I think it’s possible for the Badgers to have a different path to success that Kentucky. And to counter Herro’s argument, the Badgers and Greg Gard have recruited a lot of fast-tempo players in these next to classes. Lorne Bowman and Johnny Davis are not going to be kept in the stables. You gotta let your thoroughbreds run, baby. Chucky Hepburn and Matthew Mors neither. These are all kids with bounce who want to get out in the open floor.
It sucks that King didn’t feel like Wisconsin was a fit for him anymore but speaking of “fits” this year’s Wisconsin basketball team does not have the players to run a fast-paced uptempo offense. They tried at the beginning of the year and it did not go well. Unfortunately this is a team that is going to have to win ugly and drag more talented teams down into the muck with them.
Herro probably wouldn’t have been happy at Wisconsin. I believe all of the Wisconsin recruiting analysts said as much when he verbally committed to the Badgers. His style of play was a much better fit at UK and the proof is in the pudding. He had a great freshman year and now he’s having a great rookie season for the Miami Heat.
Let’s see what Gard can do with these next two recruiting classes which are, again, the two best ever at Wisconsin, before we go making any sweeping changes because one dude from the state of Wisconsin left and then had some snide things to say.