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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Recruit Review: Feb '09

Today is the last day of February, which means the high school basketball regular season is over in Wisconsin. State tournament seeding is set in Wisconsin and Illinois and soon to follow in Minnesota.

A lot has happened in the last six weeks, so catching up on the action for all the Badger recruits is a daunting task. I did a bit of research and humbly offer some quick recaps below.


:: Though senior Diamond Taylor scored only eight points back on Jan. 17 when Bolingbrook (IL) lost to St. Ignatius and another potential Badger recruit Nnanna Egwu, 66-63, he bounced back with 19 points in an overtime loss to Homewood-Flossmoor. Since then, the Raiders have not lost, starting their streak by blowing out Andrew, 84-50. Yet Taylor has struggled somewhat in that time. After fighting off an illness earlier this month, Taylor's missed front end of a bonus free throw situation nearly cost his team a victory in one game.

More recently, the 6'3" guard scored a game-high 14 points and 11 points, respectively, as Bolingbrook clinched the SouthWest Suburban Blue Conference title last weekend. A #3 seed in the Oswego (East) Sectional was the team's reward. Bolingbrook (18-6, 7-1) beat Stagg by 24 on Saturday, when Taylor chipped in nine points.

:: Henry Sibley (MN) forward Mike Bruesewitz is chugging along since his team dropped two games to a pair of elite Midwestern squads (Hopkins and Memorial). Bruiser hit the game-winner for his mates versus Kaukauna in the 2009 Wisconsin vs. Minnesota Border Battle. He averaged over 18 ppg for the month of January. The Warriors have rarely been challenged at all in conference and they recently clinched their second-straight league crown. Behind Bruiser's 19 points, they destroyed Hill-Murray to start February and Bruesewitz was soon named to the final 15 for Minnesota's Mr. Basketball.

Opposing coaches appear to be throwing junk defenses at Sibley to prevent Bruiser and his front line teammates from getting revved up. This trend has limited Bruesewitz's scoring. He averaged nine ppg in a recent three-game stretch, but bounced back with 16 points in Sibley's win on Tuesday to end a nice stretch of home games (7 of 8). The Warriors (22-2, 14-0) dominated South St. Paul, 77-27, and have two remaining road games before tournament play begins in Minnesota, where Hopkins is the heavy favorite in Sibley's division.


:: The sight of Vander Blue attending Marquette games and rumors of him wavering in his verbal commitment to the Badgers seem like distant memories now. Though Blue had a relatively quiet night, Madison Memorial (19-1, 17-1) wrapped up another Big Eight Conference title by beating Madison East, 56-45, Thursday night in the biggest city basketball game in years.

After slipping against East back in January, the Spartans reeled off nine straight wins -- only one of which was by less than 20 points. A month ago Blue exploded in the second half against Verona to lead the team with 22 points in 57-34 win. That has been the lucky number for Blue, as he scored 22 points against crosstown rival LaFollette and another 22 when Memorial pinned 98 points on Madison West. The Spartans then came from behind to beat Beloit, 66-58, with Blue scoring 13 points. He followed that up with another 21-point performance the next game out. Blue's season-long streak of double-digit scoring games came to an end last Tuesday when the bench was emptied early in a rout over Janesville Parker. Memorial is currently ranked #20 and #24 by a few national polls and earned the top seed in its sectional.

:: Big man Evan Anderson returned from injury to Eau Claire North's lineup with a bang against Rice Lake the last week of January. Anderson scored 14 points -- including two important free throws -- in nearly 30 minutes of the 55-48 win. The Huskies next blasted New Richmond, though Anderson made little more than a whimper (2 pts). Anderson was then limited to three field goal attempts as North was officially unseated as conference champs by Hudson. So it's no surprise that as a #5 seed, North's road to State would have to go through top-seeded Hudson squad in a regional final.

Opposing defenses tend to collapse on North's huge front line, which seems to have been effective. The best case scenario for Anderson in a Wisconsin uniform is looking more and more like a Stiemsma-like impact. Not bad in the end, but also a few years of not much as his college game develops. The Huskies (13-7, 9-4) have won three games in a row, starting with wins last Thursday and on Monday, to run their record to 5-2 since Anderson's return. Last night, North defeated River Falls as Anderson scored 11 in the second half.


:: From the tone of the article, it sounds like Devon Hodges fouled out of a game earlier this year that featured a preposterous 87 free throw attempts. Romeoville made 22 of 37, while surrendering 37 points from the stripe to Plainfield North. Like Taylor, Hodges also missed a game recently when he sat out with the flu. However, the lanky sophomore was a terror on defense while leading the Spartans with 17 points in a 76-74 overtime loss to Plainfield South.

It's unclear whether Hodges was one of the Spartans who missed last Tuesday's game for missing a practice. More likely, Hodges just had an off night and was not mentioned in the article. Either way, Hodges was back in time to grab 12 rebounds in Romeoville's latest set back to Plainfield Central. Romeoville (11-14, 7-7) grabbed a #12 seed in the middle of the Frankfort (Lincoln-Way North) Sectional for the upcoming state tournament before its seniors carried the team to victory in the regular season finale versus Minooka.

: : :

- The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel just did a nice story on the progress of Wisconsin's two 2009 recruits.
- For the second time ever, not a single McDonald's High School All-American is headed to a Big Ten school this fall. The last time the Big Ten got shut out was 2005.

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