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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More Coverage On UW's Final Piece

The Markolf story hit the pages today, with a lengthy write-up on The Capital Times website. It's good to see Howard Moore land his first recruit -- especially one that was on track to sign with recruiting hound Billy Gillispie -- whether the kid is from Chicago or not. You can tell he's more than relieved to get the monkey off his back. I wonder if he's read all the hissing on message boards ...

The best part about the commitment is that Wisconsin can now commit 100% of its recruiting effort toward the magical 2009 class. The fact that the '08 class now has two big men leaves plenty of PT available down the road for Bo, Moore, Greg Gard and Gary Close to dangle in front of the great swingmen looking to sign for '09.

Now, let's hope no one de-commits and runs away with Indiana before November's official signing period.

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Royce White, an '09 target from the vaunted Howard Pulley AAU program, is one of 40 players invited to the prestigious Nike Global Challenge at the end of the month. The same news page includes a summary of how a few other future Badgers from the Minnesota-based program have fared lately on the summer circuit.

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.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Moving On and Moving Up

While ESPN's Andy Katz had a nice article last week on Brian Butch's progress rehabbing from his gruesome elbow injury, word came out today that Butch missed the cut for Team USA's Pan Am Games roster. Although I thought a month ago that his outside shooting and rebounding might have been an asset to the squad, maybe the fact that Butch may not be 100% recovered yet played into his performance at the tryouts.

Regardless, there were five big men chosen among the 14 finalists, with the roster to be trimmed down to 12 in the coming days. Beloit's very own Kyle Weaver made the cut, along with Washington State teammate Derrick Low, so it looks like the committee was putting value in team chemistry. Drew Neitzel was an obvious choice, but Tennessee's Chris Lofton was a surprising omission. I love that they stuck Eric Maynor on the team as well.

While Butch will be moving on in his rehab instead of playing ball in Brazil this month, Alando Tucker has managed to shine occasionally in NBA summer league action. With one game left to play today, Tucker is the leading scorer on the Suns, averaging over 18 ppg in four games. Unfortunately, the Suns only won once. I was able to catch the first Phoenix game live on, but joined late and didn't see much of Tucker. You can actually watch the entire Phoenix-Philly game in which Tuck poured in 29 points on NBA TV. From the highlights, his shooting looks more fluid and he appears comfortable as an NBA 2-guard. But it's only summer league, right? I can't wait to see him lace'm up for real this fall.

Monday, July 2, 2007

On the Stove Top: More Recruiting

Sounds like Wisconsin is one of the first schools going hard after Chicago Marshall's Darius Smith, a 2009 point guard prospect:

"Right now, I'm hearing from Louisville and Wisconsin," Smith said. "Actually I'm hearing from Wisconsin a lot. My list has a lot of schools on it, though. Illinois has come by the school, too."

Lots of recruiting info has been simply simmering, but now that we have entered July, the AAU circuit should spice the place up a bit.

UW's favorite 2008 duo (Jordan Taylor and Jared Berggren) should be toiling again for Howard Pulley, after playing well for their high school squads at the Badger Team Camp here in Madison late last month. Royce White and Rodney Williams, Jr. helped the remainder of the Howard Pulley roster win the camp's Gold Division championship with a 6-1 record.

Berggren continues to prove me wrong as he piles up accolades and kudos this summer. Along with White, Williams and Taylor, Berggren has been invited to participate in Nike's LeBron James Top 100 Camp this weekend in Cleveland. How funny is it to rank these high schoolers so early? In the case of Berggren, Wisconsin first latched on to him when he was raw and literally a pale bean pole. Now after some seasoning and growing into his frame, some already consider the kid the cream of UW's 2008 recruiting class. (You should be able to access a short video on Berggren on the right-hand side of Wisconsin's basketball page at

And speaking of those young Minnesotans and somewhat meaningless rankings, I should also mention that White and Williams highlight a number of potential Badgers on the newly released 2009 Top 75 rankings at Both players impressed at the Nike Hoop Jamboree as well.

One thing we do know now more than ever is that all of these guys are for real. White has shot up to #18 on the list, while Racine's Jamil Wilson can be found at #29. Now that is depth. The 2009 class should be a gem for Wisconsin.

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Whether or not it was a good move remains to be seen, Yahoo agreed purchase the sports recruiting powerhouse for a reported $100 million. [official press release]

What does it all mean? By moving from a partnership with Yahoo into an actual member of the family, Rivals should have more resources at their disposal to pump even more traffic their direction. If Yahoo ventures further into the social networking game, rumor has it user-generated content may become a staple of the high school sports information network. As troubling a thought as that is, Yahoo's presence lends itself to an explosion of content, which could definitely benefit a guy like me, who is too cheap to purchase an actual subscription to Rivals. Alas, the good stuff is always going to cost ya ...

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The Badgers have benefited from being an early bird with certain basketball recruits like Taylor and Berggren, but Wisconsin's competitors can also profit in the same fashion at times. In the case of Oak Park's highly-touted '08 SG Iman Shumpert, UW's offer in early May was too little too late. That spells the end of Shumpert's tenure on the 2008 target list, joining Chicago PF Josh Crittle in exile. According to Illinois Prep Bulls-eye, our Jesuit neighbors to the east have the inside track among the five schools on Crittle's short list. C'mon Duck, I remain nervous about the ripe Chicagoland area ...

A pair of prep ballers from Chicago's Mean Streets AAU team, Michael Dunigan and Matthew Humphrey, have both trimmed their lists to exclude the Badgers. I think Wisconsin could really use a banger like Dunigan, but Humphrey was already known to be a bad fit for Bo Ryan's program.

Lastly, Jody Demling blogs that 2008 big man Ian Markolf, a legit center prospect, visited Kentucky last week. Supposedly Wisconsin is still in the running. I'd rather get an athletic forward, but you can't teach height. And from what I hear ...

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