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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Big Tex Completes UW's 2008 Class

There's truth to the saying that everything is bigger in Texas. Badger fans will get to see it first hand in the near future.

Wisconsin appears to have filled the final open scholarship in its 2008 recruiting class when San Antonio's Ian Markolf verbally committed on Monday.

Basketball fans who pay attention to such activity couldn't help but be concerned as UW was passed over by some red-hot properties on the high school scene over the last few months. Players that Bo Ryan and his staff were high on early seemed to cool on Wisconsin as a destination, and likewise, UW seemed to cool on them. Even in the last week or two, Wisconsin was spurned by another talented, yet lesser regarded player in Grant Gibbs. The apparent rejections were all from guards.

Well, what Wisconsin landed was actually one of the biggest fish left in the soon-to-be-seniors pond. Markolf is a legit 7-footer who by all accounts has plenty on his frame already. With a point guard, a wing player and a skinny big man already committing to UW, Markolf's decision puts another aircraft carrier in Bo's fleet.

Before you start complaining about another tall, white guy on the roster, take a moment to enjoy snagging a 84-inch tall player from as far south as the Lone Star State. With the exception of Wesley Matthews, Wisconsin has been able to snag the top talents from within its borders in addition to landing top-flight talent from Iowa, Minnesota, and now Texas.

To be honest, this class has the feel of an underrated one that could become the backbone of a future Big Ten champion. As we learn more about Markolf's game, I'm holding out hope that he has the skills to become a true back-to-the-basket post threat, a role neither Butch nor Stiemsma have been able to fill since Mike Wilkinson's departure.

Markolf is rated by as the 37th-best center prospect in his class and is unrated by Rivals. When you are poor and busy like me, your sources on these stories are limited to reports that look like this until the story blows up in the mainstream media.

In other news, I did update the 2009 recruiting targets earlier to reflect Wisconsin extending a scholarship offer to Diamond Taylor. Taylor, a 6'3" shooting guard, will be a junior this fall at St. Joseph's High School outside of Chicago, which has recently produced high-level recruits for both Ohio State and Illinois.

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If it makes you feel better (and it certainly does me), two of Sconnie's former '08 targets, AAU teammates Michael Dunigan and Matt Humphrey, both committed to Oregon on Monday, spurning all of Big Ten country. Dunigan was a very impressive prospect who might have been able to name his spot, but this "package deal" seems to have turned the Illini crew a bit sour when it comes to Humphrey, wouldn't you say?

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Flavien Davis, a reknowned young gun in this state, is starting to get more run nationwide, as evidenced by a few blurbs in Jody Demling's blog for The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky. Demling is very active in the world of basketball recruiting -- because he has to be! His beat covers not only Louisville and Kentucky, but Indiana's recruiting as well. It's sort of a nice compliment for the locals to show up on the radars of schools with such tradition so far away.

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And finally ... Alando Tucker and Kam Taylor ended their respective Summer League runs on opposite sides of the court. Largely forgettable, though I hope Kam at least has some good memories.

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