Wisconsin announced Wednesday that all three high school seniors committed to join the team next year have signed their national letters of intent (NLI) to play basketball for the Badgers.
This three-man group, consisting of Alex Illikainen, Brevin Pritzl and Charlie Thomas (easily dubbed the 'ABCs' for future reference), runs the gamut from highly-ranked to under-scouted, from sharpshooter to bruiser. Here are the highlights of Bo Ryan's first public comments on his latest recruits.
Alex Illikainen, 6-9 forward, 225-lb forward
"Alex is an individual we’ve had our eyes on for a long time and have enjoyed watching him mature into a very good player and fit for our program," Ryan commented. "Wisconsin fans will love watching Alex play. He brings a 'lunch pail and hard hat mentality' with him every time."
If Dekker should go pro after the season, Illikainen would be squarely in the mix ready to compete as a freshman for minutes off the bench. He showed off a sweet shooting stroke from three-point land at this summer's NBPA Top 100 camp and is an established post scorer and rebounder. He will have to adapt to the size and speed at the next level after being one of the biggest kids on the court his entire life. Moving out to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire for his senior season will accelerate that adjustment.
Comparison: a poor man's Mike Wilkinson ... or maybe not so poor.
Brevin Pritzl, 6-3, 185-lb guard
"The willingness to find the basket offensively will not be a problem for Brevin and I’m looking forward to helping him become even a more complete player in the future. It’s been neat to watch one of the nation’s best high school shooters grow up right here in Wisconsin."
Some view Pritzl as the prize of 2015 class due to his elite talent shooting the ball. He is the highest-ranked recruit Wisconsin has signed since Sam Dekker, believe it or not, rated as a Top-50 prospect by some services and the consensus No. 85 recruit in the country according to the 247 Sports Composite. The staff slow-played Pritzl a bit, but luckily they struck at just the right time to grab their first commitment in the class. Pritzl is another player who could step in on day one and compete for a starting spot next to Bronson Koenig in a year.
Comparison: Ben Brust
Charlie Thomas, 6-8, 245-lb forward
"We think we’ve found a diamond in the rough with Charlie," Ryan explained. "Being a year young for his actual grade, we believe he’s got a tremendous future as he continues to grow and develop his game. He’s part of a wonderful family that understands the entire collegiate experience. His pedigree, with his Dad being a former player at Wake Forest, gives him a head start into a more complete comprehension of what it takes to being a successful student-athlete."
Bo Ryan's comments say it all. Wisconsin is hoping it stole one from out east with Thomas, who brings great length and athleticism to the front court. We've touched on his overlooked scoring ability before, but his all-around game has the coaches excited. Thomas is already familiar with the Badger system, as his high school already runs a Swing-like offense. The young forward will not turn 18 years old until November of next year.
Comparison: A taller, more athletic Mike Bruesewitz
The early signing period for basketball runs through November 19. The elephant in the room is the status of super-recruit Diamond Stone. The Milwaukee-area center is down to four finalists and nearing a decision, though he may not sign a NLI at all. A regular spring (aka "late") signing period runs from April 15 to May 20 next spring.