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Monday, January 5, 2009

Thoughts On The Devon Hodges Commitment

Things are suddenly looking a bit brighter in the land of Badger basketball. On the heels of Wisconsin's 2-0 start in Big Ten play, Bo Ryan's program received their first pledge in the 2011 class from Romeoville, Illinois sophomore Devon Hodges.

From what I have read, Hodges does all of his damage from inside the three-point line. He played a little center for Romeoville last year as a freshman and at age 15, could still grow a few more inches. Hodges has 31 blocked shots this year in 10 games.

Corralling Hodges continues one of the recruiting trends of the Bo Ryan-era: pouncing on virtual unknowns quietly before their recruitment heats up. Many fans probably are hearing about Hodges for the first time today, or maybe last week when the scholarship offer was reported. The exact same thing happened with Ryan Evans late in the Class of 2008. While it is way too early to tell what kind of returns Evans and Ian Markolf will bring, Jon Leuer was another player that Bo's staff went after vigorously before most other major programs. Others that did not sign with Wisconsin include Florida's Chandler Parsons. The staff has a good track record for evaluating talent.

Wisconsin's Class of 2011 still has three scholarships unaccounted for to replace an outgoing class of Jon Leuer, Keaton Nankivil, Tim Jarmusz and J.P. Gavinski. Getting a player of Hodges' size and athleticism in this particular four-player class was a must. Finding a point guard in this class is also key. The state of Illinois is deep at this position in the current crop of high schoolers.

Hodges' verbal gives Howard Moore his second verbal commitment from the Land of Lincoln in the past 10 months (Diamond Taylor '09). Moore has obviously built up nice visibility and a good rapport with the Illinois Wolves AAU club that both Hodges and Taylor have played for. This signing bodes well for UW's chances with a couple of other Wolves to whom Wisconsin recently offered scholarships.

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