Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
If you haven't already heard, previously committed Wisconsin recruit Brock Boeser has decided to re-open his recruitment. Bucky's 5th Quarter reported that news Nov. 16, although it had already been in the works in the weeks leading up to that.
All is not lost for the Badgers, however, as Boeser will still take his official recruiting visit to Madison Dec. 6th during the series vs. Penn State. Hopefully, for Wisconsin's sake, it'll have a win by then.
The Badgers still believe they have a good shot to land Boeser, who is tearing up the USHL in his first full season. Boeser is second in the league in goals (11) and points (22) through 16 games.
After committing to play for the Badgers in May of 2013, Boeser said Wisconsin was his dream school.
"The feeling is great, I'm really honored," Boeser told Bucky's 5th Quarter after making his decision. "(Wisconsin) has been my dream school ever since I was a little kid."
So why the sudden change of heart? Why is Boeser re-opening the recruiting process? There's no easy answer.
Boeser has remained quiet about the situation, and that's the smart play. There's really no advantage to opening that can of worms while still going through the process.
This situation came to light because of the NCAA early signing period, which runs Nov. 12 through Nov. 19. Once a player signs on the dotted line, it's official. They are locked into that school for at least one year, and that school is locked into a scholarship agreement with the player.
While I can't speak for the player, it's rather obvious to see that he was not ready to make an official decision on where he wants to go to school next season. With the NCAA early signing period approaching, it appears as if the player took a step back and made it clear that he'd like to make sure he's making the right decision for his future.
And that's something you have to respect. If he's not 100 percent sure of his decision, why sign and lock yourself in?
Some people have asked why Boeser would decommit from Wisconsin but keep the Badgers as a potential option. Again, I can't speak for the player and I don't know his thoughts. What I can say is that in the interest of being up front and honest, this is the correct move in my opinion.
If Boeser wants to talk to other coaches and schools to make sure he's finding the best spot for himself as a student-athlete next season, it makes a lot more sense to me to officially open up the recruiting process again than to stay partially committed to the Badgers and do this behind their back. It takes guts to make that call.
So, who is in play for Boeser going forward? Obviously Wisconsin is going to put the full-court press back on. With the recruits they already have lined up for this season and next, things are going to turn around rather quickly. Boeser can accelerate that timeline with his offensive capabilities.
Boeser's cousin, Dan, played at Wisconsin from 2000-04. After Brock made his commitment in May of 2013, Dan told Bucky's 5th Quarter about how much he was looking forward to seeing Brock play for his alma mater.
"Thrilled that he has a scholarship to a Division I school, icing on the cake for me that he chose Wisconsin," Dan said. "I obviously played there, his mom is from Madison, and a lot of his mom's family still lives there. Couldn't be happier for him."
Minnesota is also going to be in the discussion. Boeser grew up a Wisconsin fan, but the lure of playing close to home has to be appealing. I'm sure Boeser is also getting a lot of pressure from his linemates in Waterloo -- Tommy Novak and Tyler Sheehy -- who are both committed to playing for the Gophers next season. Can you blame them? I'd want Boeser on my side the next few years if I were them too.
Fellow Minnesota recruits Rem Pitlick and Sam Rossini also skate for the Black Hawks, and Sheehy and Rossini hail from Boeser's hometown in Burnsville, Minnesota.
The other big name being thrown around consistently in the rumors is North Dakota. Boeser is very skilled, but also plays a very tough game. He's hard to knock off the puck and he'll also go into the dirty areas to get pucks for himself. He's a Dave Hakstol type of player. It makes sense that the two parties would have mutual interest in each other.
Notre Dame and Boston College have come up in rumors as well, but certainly not as strong as the other three that I've listed. We'll see. I don't know where he's going to end up and I'm not going to pretend to know either. At the end of the day, someone's getting one hell of a hockey player.
What happens if Boeser doesn't pick the Badgers?
If you take a look at this nifty little recruiting chart that I've provided below, you can see that the Badgers have three other forwards lined up for next season. USHL forwards Seamus Malone (Dubuque Fighting Saints) and Matthew Freytag (Tri-City Storm) have already signed National Letters of Intent. Luke Kunin (U.S. NTDP U-18) is in the process of accelerating high school to be ready to join the Badgers next season, but isn't far enough along in his coursework to officially sign at this point.
There are a few recent players who have altered their college plans that could be intriguing to the Wisconsin staff, should Boeser decide to go another way. Green Bay Gamblers' forward Brent Gates Jr. recently decommitted from Notre Dame and is considering his options. It appears as if Minnesota is the favorite in that race, however, as his father played baseball for the Gophers and he visited the campus last weekend.
Another player who may be an option is Matthew Tkachuk, who has some ties to the Badgers. Tkachuk, who is the son of former NHL'er, Keith, currently skates in Ann Arbor for the NTDP U18 squad. A native of St. Louis, Tkachuk grew up with UW recruits Luke Kunin and Luke Opilka, and moved with them to the US program last season.
Tkachuk was originally committed to Notre Dame, but it was recently revealed that he wasn't going to qualify academically to play for the Irish. He's not a dumb kid, by any means. Quite the contrary, actually. Like Kunin, he's trying to accelerate his studies to graduate high school a year early. It sounds as if he couldn't match up his coursework with Notre Dame's requirements to play next season. So he's going to look at other schools.
There is also an option to leave the spot open. The Badgers could bank the scholarship as they'll have 14 forwards on the roster, plus swing player Cullen Hurley who is playing defense right now but was recruited as a forward. The Badgers are planning on bringing in two defensemen for next season (Peter Tischke and Matthew Berkovitz), and graduate only Chase Drake. Taking Hurley out of the equation, that gives UW eight defensemen, which is a solid number. Hurley could potentially move back up front and be a role player on the offensive end if they aren't comfortable with the available forward options.
The following season, Wisconsin brings in center Trent Frederic out of the U.S. NTDP and is also still in the running for Tyson Jost, a Canadian who skates for the Penticton Vees in the BCHL. Jost is risky, given the fact he's a first-round WHL Draft selection, but the potential talent acquisition makes the gamble worthwhile.
I think in a perfect world the Badgers would like to take 15 forwards into next season (not including Hurley), and add two more in 2016. With no senior forwards on the roster next season, any additional players will put Wisconsin over the traditional 15-forward mark that seems to be the nice, neat number that most college coaches prefer. With the significant lack of balance in UW's recruiting cycles, however, the Badgers must go outside of the box to make an attempt to bring this thing back closer to normal.
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