Appleton Xavier senior Matt Ferris has accepted a preferred walk-on position for Bo Ryan and Wisconsin next season, per the Post Crescent.
Ferris is listed at 6'5 and was a three-year starter at Xavier, where he was named the Eastern Valley Conference Player of the Year this past season as well as an honorable mention all-state pick in Division 2. Known as an outside shooter, he shot 43 percent from behind the arc on the way to 14.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as a senior. According to his AAU coach with the Wisconsin Blizzard, Craig Hawley, Ferris' release is exceptionally quick.
"He can shoot the three as quick and as deep as anybody I've watched at any level. And I think because he's such a great shooter, his passing ability gets overlooked. He's an excellent passer with great vision."
Ferris is a multi-sport standout. As quarterback of the football team, he was named AP Player of the Year in Wisconsin in 2013 and set state single-season records in passing yards (3,949) and touchdowns (50), including an eight-touchdown game against Ripon. Although he was gaining some interest to play college football, Ferris opted to go with his first love, basketball, at the next level.
Per the Post Crescent, Ferris was somewhat surprised by UW's offer.
When Xavier fell to West De Pere 64-51 in a WIAA Division 2 tournament opener on March 1, Ferris was unaware that University of Wisconsin assistant basketball coach Greg Gard was in attendance that night, along with former Xavier player Jeremy Davis, now a student manger with the UW basketball team.
"I'm not sure how word even got to coach Gard that I was interested in walking on," said Ferris, who suspects it was Davis, who coaches the returning Xavier players in summer leagues.
It wasn't until after the game that Ferris became aware Gard was in the stands.
"Coach (Matt) Klarner decided not to tell me until after the game," said Ferris, who had four three-pointers as part of a team-high 17 points for the Hawks that night. "(Gard) didn't speak to me after the game. After coach Klarner told me, I e-mailed him and he told me to give him a call."
Playing time for the Badgers will be tight next year. Only Ben Brust will be gone from the regular rotation, and Riley Dearring, Zak Showalter, Jordan Smith and Aaron Moesch will all be off redshirt years. However, the Badgers still have two open scholarships next year and Bo Ryan has a strong history of rewarding walk-on players that buy in and commit to the program. At the very least, 6'5 multi-sport athletes that can shoot over 40 percent from three-point range are always worth a look.