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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Evaluating Wisconsin's Future Guard Depth

The announcement by Vander Blue yesterday that he is officially back on the market was the culmination of a tumultuous week for Badger fans. Though Blue's final destination will not be known for another six months probably, he disputed the implication that he was a poor student and that the Badger offense was undesirable to him. He simply felt like he rushed his verbal commitment a year ago.

As misinformation and clarifications circulated about the Blue situation, other announcements trickled in regarding that impact how Wisconsin's roster looks over the next few years. Late last week Wisconsin added two walk-ons for 2009 and offered a 2010 scholarship to Cameron Wright, a former Ohio State recruit.

Wright, a 6'5" guard from Cleveland, is considered Plan B with Blue looking elsewhere, but is planning on taking some official visits to different schools in August. Now that another another BCS school like Wisconsin has re-offered, I would expect the stigma of Wright's split from the Buckeyes to fade away. A few big-time programs (like Miami, VT and Notre Dame) are already sniffing around again, meaning Wright is in no way signed, sealed and delivered to Wisconsin.

Of the players not on scholarship, Jeremy Glover arrives as a preferred walk-on from the talent-rich Washington, D.C. area (Oakton, VA). As a preferred walk-on, Glover (6'3") will have the opportunity to earn a scholarship down the road, a la Kevin Gullikson. However, nothing is officially promised to a preferred walk-on.

With Glover, Mike Bruesewitz and Diamond Taylor filling the spots vacated by Gullikson, Joe Krabbenhoft and Marcus Landry, another 6'3" guard, Dan Fahey, will replace Morris Cain. Fahey hails from Chicago's prestigious St. Ignatius College Prep, where 2011 prospect Nnana Egwu also attends. Wisconsin also reportedly looked at New Berlin native Taylor Hall (6'7") of Bemidji State to fill that slot.

So Wisconsin is replacing three forwards from their rotation with one forward and two guards next year. The onus is on the sophomore and junior classes to really step up in the paint. A lot will be expected of Jon Leuer, Keaton Nankivil and Jared Berggren this season. The back court is in good hands with a solid four-man rotation, giving Diamond Taylor room to grow. The 2009-10 season will be the first one in five years that won't be missing a guard from any of the original recruiting classes.

Looking ahead to 2010, Bo Ryan appears to be going with a shotgun approach with his back court depth. Blue appeared to be that ace-in-the-hole type recruit who could have developed into the next great Badger guard. Many have referred to Bo's track record to suggest he will not wait around to court Blue -- even if Howard Moore is going to recruit him "harder than ever."

Until Blue signs a national LOI at Wisconsin or more likely, elsewhere, Wisconsin is at least amassing some depth at positions 1-3 for 2010:

Seniors - Tim Jarmusz (3)
Juniors - Jordan Taylor (1), Rob Wilson (2)
Sophomores - Ryan Evans (2-3), Diamond Taylor (2), Jeremy Glover (2), Mike Bruesewitz (3-4)
Freshman - ???

Wright would be another '2' if he signed. Depending on Diamond's ability to play a little point guard, another pure floor leader would be a great fit for the final 2010 scholarship. Blue was being recruited as a combo guard that could fill either role. Adding Wright would ensure some serious wing depth and odds are that the next great Badger guard can emerge from that group. Waiting on a point guard, however, puts a lot of pressure on the staff to find a player in the 2011 class who can start for Bo Ryan as a sophomore.

The assistants will be working hard to find the right fit for that last scholarship since Bo will be busy in June and July coaching Team USA for the World University Games in Serbia. For those wondering about the Swing offense's place in international competition, it sounds like Bo will be installing 'Swing Lite' into the players.

: : :

- Just in case you were wondering, yes, Ohio State immediately offered J.D. Weatherspoon and no, he has not accepted it yet.
- Speaking of the Buckeyes, OSU will lose two scholarships next season due to its APR shortcomings.

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