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Friday, September 10, 2010

Closing Up Shop

As I alluded to yesterday, change is in the air. So I am taking my talents to South Beach.

Errr, I mean, to a different Web site. From now on, you can find my thoughts, rants and commentary on Wisconsin Badger basketball over at the fantastic Bucky's 5th Quarter community.

Please update your bookmarks and news feeds appropriately. I highly encourage every reader to become a member of the growing Badger community over at B5Q. And if you find the all-sports approach isn't for you, don't worry -- the irrepressible Hoops Marinara tweets will still alert you to newly published basketball articles at the new site. Sign up!

So whether you followed Hoops Marinara via a feed subscription, the Twitter account or just by occasionally Googling a hoops recruit's name, I hope you check out the great things we will be doing over on the SBNation platform (which hopefully will include a preview magazine for the 2011-12 season). All the recruiting information from this site will be transitioned over to a visible spot at B5Q very soon. I cannot promise kindness, but we will be killing 'em with content.

Lastly, a quick thanks to everyone who has supported me and read my stuff here over the past three and a half years of independent blogging. It was a blast.

P.S. -- If I ever again have a coherent thought about the Milwaukee Bucks or WIAA basketball that is not Badger-related, it may wind up here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

End of Summer Status

Just one week into September and football season, it already feels like the previous basketball season ended years ago.

Luckily a lull in groundbreaking Wisconsin basketball news came at a perfect time. It was a busy summer for me personally and changes are in the works regarding this blog as well. But when I rehash what people might have missed during the lazy summer, it turns out that a lot went down and most of it was good.

While the Big Ten collectively celebrated the return of many of its top players from the brink of the NBA Draft pool, other key pieces like Kevin Coble evaporated unexpectedly. Or in Chris Allen's case, not-so-unexpectedly. Meanwhile, UW said goodbye to two seniors and one non-contributor without any teeth-gnashing. That is especially great when you consider what was going on last year at this time.

Rather than the program kicking a couple kids off the team, recovering from a dramatic decommitment and sending Bo Ryan to coach Team USA, Wisconsin flew under the radar (except for this). A flurry of recruiting activity in June wrapped up nicely with Jarrod Uthoff's semi-surprising commitment in mid-July. What followed was a month of relative silence.

Though student-athletes typically get a couple of short breaks from class and teammates, an incredible amount of hard work is going on behind the scenes to prepare for the next season. Just ask the new freshmen. Or ask sophomore Ryan Evans if the hard work pays off. He was selected by Global Sports Academy for a team that toured Europe in August. Evans played well, even if it barely registered at all in the media.

However, one fellow who is no longer inconspicuous in any sense is Jon Leuer. A lot of praise was heaped on the 6'10" forward this summer as he impressed during his Team USA internship. That'll get you hyped as one of the top three players in your conference, although some draftniks over at Draft Express might be eating some crow based on how low they placed Leuer on their list of Big Ten draft prospects.

Leuer leads a six-man senior class heading into the fall semester as the program adjusts to one new assistant coach in light of Howard Moore's departure. But people forget that number could have doubled if Greg Gard had gotten the UW-Green Bay job in the spring (Ed. note: could have tripled really). Again, disaster averted.

So it's a good time to be optimistic about an even more enjoyable basketball season lurking behind the changing colors of the trees. We can even take a deep, relaxing breath knowing that the divisional realignment scare has passed ... I think.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Decision On New Assistant Expected Soon

Rob Schultz reported last night that Bo Ryan is interviewing four candidates for Wisconsin's vacant assistant coaching position this week. Applications for the opening were due by today, while an official announcement would likely be made closer to the expected start date of Tuesday, Sep. 7.

Three of the candidates appear to be former UW guard Freddie Owens (Montana), Pat Baldwin (Loyola) and Ben Johnson (Northern Iowa). All three men played collegiately in the Big Ten. Possibilities for the fourth candidate include Paris Parham (Illinois State), Sharif Chambliss (UW-Platteville), Rodell Davis (Providence) and Kareem Richardson (Drake) -- several of whom are noted forces in the Chicagoland recruiting game.

The early whispers said that Owens had an edge, but there is no clear leader at this time.

: : :

Many Badger fans will keep an eye on Illinois-Chicago this year because of the man Bo is trying to replace. I know it will be easy for me to root for a guy like Howard Moore to re-energize the UIC program in the near future. Moore hit the turf running by adding two new assistants already, including one sage hire from the Chicago Public League. Assistants from Indiana State and Providence have been rumored for Moore's third opening.

Under Moore's guidance, UIC has extended a slew of scholarship offers to Chicago prepsters already, as well as a familiar name in Wisconsin. It will be interesting to see whether Moore makes acquiring prevelant junior college talent a part of his strategy.

The guys from Illinois Prep Bulls Eye had this to say about whom the Flames might go after next:

"We would also not be the least bit surprised to see UIC end up on the radar of several other 2011 prospects before it is said and done, including 6'7 forward Devon Hodges from Bolingbrook High School in Bolingbrook, IL; 6'4 forward Quintin Chievous from Notre Dame High School in Niles, IL; 6'5 wing Jacob Williams from St. Patrick High School in Chicago and possibly 6'3 shooting guard Will Sullivan from York Township High School in Elmhurst, IL just to name a few."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Big Ten Releases Conference Schedule

With today's release of the Big Ten Conference men's basketball slate, Wisconsin's 2010-11 regular season schedule has been finalized.

We knew several of the big dates when ESPN announced its TV schedule yesterday.

The rivalries renew immediately on Dec. 28 when Minnesota makes its first trip to Madison since the Gophers' shocking comeback at the Kohl Center two seasons ago. Unfortunately, Wisconsin plays Minnesota and Iowa just once during the regular season. With the Hawkeyes expected to be dreadful in year one of Fran McCaffery's tenure, that could be a slight disadvantage for the Badgers when comparing unbalanced league schedules.

Other marquee revelations are Wisconsin's trip to Illinois on Jan. 2 and the Illini's return trip to Madison less than two weeks later, on Jan. 15. Bo Ryan and Co. also welcome Purdue (Feb. 1) and Michigan State (Feb. 6) to the Kohl Center for back-to-back tilts. Wisconsin then heads to West Lafayette, Ind. on Feb. 16. Luckily there are no back-breaking road stretches for Badgers.

The previously released non-conference schedule, which tips off Nov. 14 after two exhibitions, includes true road tests against UNLV (11/20) and Marquette (12/11) in addition to three games in the Old Spice Classic. The Badgers drew the North Carolina State Wolfpack at home on Dec. 1 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Wisconsin will begin the eight-team Old Spice Classic with a game against Manhattan on Nov. 25. Potential opponents in later rounds include Boston College, Texas A&M, California and Notre Dame. [View bracket]

2010-11 Wisconsin Big Ten Schedule
Date - Opponent, Time (TV)
Dec. 28 - Minnesota, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Jan. 2 - @ Illinois, 6 p.m. (BTN)
Jan. 5 - Michigan, 8:30 p.m. (BTN)
Jan. 11 - @ Michigan State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Jan. 15 - Illinois, 3 p.m. (BTN)
Jan. 20 - Indiana, 9 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2)

Jan. 23 - @ Northwestern, 1 p.m. (BTN)
Jan. 29 - @ Penn State, 4 p.m. (BTN)
Feb. 1 - Purdue, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Feb. 6 - Michigan State, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Feb. 9 - @ Iowa, 8:30 p.m. (BTN)
Feb. 12 - Ohio State, 2 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2)
Feb. 16 - @ Purdue, 6:30 p.m. (BTN)
Feb. 20 - Penn State, 6 p.m. (BTN)
Feb. 23 - @ Michigan, 6:30 p.m. (BTN)
Feb. 27 - Northwestern, 6 p.m. (BTN)
Mar. 2/3 - @ Indiana, 8:30/9 p.m. (BTN/ESPN/ESPN2)
Mar. 6 - @ Ohio State, TBD (CBS/ESPN/BTN)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Howard Moore Will Be UIC's Next Head Coach

According to a source cited by the Daily Herald's Lindsey Willhite, Howard Moore will be named the new head coach at the University of Illinois-Chicago as early as Monday. Previous UIC head coach Jimmy Collins announced his retirement last month, effective at the end of August. Some are already hoping the Flames pick up the swing offense.


Let the speculation on Moore's replacement begin. It should be quite a scramble, as Andy Katz speculated earlier this week. Teaching-wise, Bo needs to find someone capable of working with his post players.

Recruiting-wise, Illinois is thought to have a weak crop of 2012 ahead of a loaded (or at least top-heavy) 2013 class. Wisconsin's new assistant who inherits that turf from Moore would have the luxury of a full 2011 class and half of the 2012 class in tow. That means little urgency to land recruits at the start. There's plenty of time to worry about 2013.

Think Mike Finley has an interest in coaching?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Moore Among Six Finalists For UIC Job

The head coaching vacancy is still unfilled at the University of Illinois-Chicago, but the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Wisconsin assistant and Chitown native Howard Moore is one of six finalists for the position. (Ed. note: The Tribune has edited the linked story, stating Tony Barone is no longer a candidate.)

Moore appeared to be one of the top candidates for the position ever since Jimmy Collins announced his retirement last month, but there has been no word on an interview until now. Minnesota assistant Vince Taylor could be one of the front-runners after interviewing this weekend, but apparently all six candidates met with the UIC brass today.

The other four finalists are Mark Montgomery (Michigan State), Willis Wilson (Memphis), Joe Pasternak (New Orleans), and Tony Barone (Memphis Grizzlies' director of player personnel). I think Moore, Taylor and Montgomery are on the short list. Illinois' recruiting savant Jerrance Howard already expressed his desire to stay with the Illini.

Moore's qualifications look good. The natural connection to the loaded talent base is there. Besides the obviously exciting opportunity to get his first head coaching job, though, there are a few reasons why Moore might want to continue solidifying his coaching resume with Bo Ryan and wait for something else down the line.

For starters, it's now the middle of August and the interview process appears to have just kicked off. For comparison, when Rob Jeter left Bo's staff five years ago, he was hired by UW-Milwaukee in April, with plenty of time to build his staff, hit the recruiting path and develop the program's culture. Is it too late in the offseason for UIC's new head coach to be effective in year one?

Not to mention that Tracy Webster, one of the guys who might have been on the short list of replacements for Moore, took a job on the Nebraska bench earlier this month. Don't you think these two former Badger teammates might have discussed whether a position might open up at Wisconsin?

If Moore were to accept a job offer to lead the Flames, his replacement would probably need to possess several characteristics that he and Webster share. Webster and Moore are both 30-something African-American coaches with Chicago roots and a wide range of coaching experience. In addition to his interim head coaching experience at DePaul, Webster has had short stints at some major programs (Purdue, Illinois, Kentucky) after rising quickly from D-III through Ball State at the mid-major level. Moore has been on the grind right from the get-go in 1996, coaching at the high school, D-III, mid-major, and now power-conference levels.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Uthoff's Choice: Wisconsin

Cedar Rapids' rising star Jarrod Uthoff finally decided tonight that he needed to leave the comfort of home in Iowa to find a perennial winner whose style fit his strengths, choosing Bo Ryan's Badgers instead of the home state Hawkeyes, Cyclones or Panthers.

And then Uthoff hopped on a plane at the Eastern Iowa Airport to skip town, just to be safe.

Okay, that's not entirely fair. Uthoff is heading to Las Vegas to hoop with his Iowa Barnstormers AAU team. But this undoubtedly will give Iowa fans flashbacks to Jason Bohannon choosing Wisconsin over his dad's alma mater. Except in this case, Iowa State and Northern Iowa are probably just as disappointed too. All three programs held a wild card in their proximity to Uthoff's home town -- he acknowledged all along that distance would be a factor in his decision. I guess the three-hour drive to Madison is manageable.

Iowa appeared to have a great chance at Uthoff in recent days as a centerpiece of its rebuilding efforts under new coach Fran McCaffery. Uthoff, an all-state pick last season, never tipped his hand during this process however.

Uthoff's commitment closes the book on UW's 2011 impressive recruiting class. In true Bo style, the group is well-rounded, but not highly-rated nationally. The skinny 6'8" senior-to-be at Cedar Rapids Jefferson can fill either forward spot next to PF/C Frank Kaminsky, while the class' backcourt is set with George Marshall and Traevon Jackson. Though Uthoff's stock just recently took off this summer, he could wind up as the best-rated prospect of the four.

On the Stove Top: 7/18/10

Summer League Wrap-Up
The Vegas Summer League concluded Sunday and the biggest surprise has to be Marcus Landry reappearing with the New York Knicks after his stint with Indiana in the Orlando session. Landry fared much better with his old crew, even getting loose for 14 points and a baseline stuff against Toronto.

Meanwhile, Joe Krabbenhoft and Greg Stiemsma finished up Sunday as the sixth men for their respective teams, but there wasn't much tangible production to show for it. To his credit, Krabby finished with a solid +/- and six boards in his finale.

But the highlight of the week has to be Stiemsma sparring with DeMarcus Cousins last Wednesday. See for yourself how Stiemsma responded to Cousins' elbow to the throat in the Wolves-Kings game ... let's just say nothing's changed with ol' Stiemboat. But good for him.



Milwaukee's top pick, Larry Sanders, also put himself on the map with the league, especially point man Brandon Jennings.

: : :

Recruiting Countdown
July has taken on greater significance on the recruiting battlegrounds now that there is no live April evaluation period allowed. The second July evaluation window opens July 22nd and some major Wisconsin targets will be making their school decisions in the next two weeks.

Unfortunately, the Badgers are not widely considered the favorite for Cedar Rapids (IA) Jefferson senior Jarrod Uthoff or Medina (OH) junior Kenny Kaminski. The versatile Uthoff wants to make his decision on Monday before heading out to his next tournament. He's sensitive to the fact his family wants him to stay close to home, which may compel him to choose one of the three Iowa schools in his final six.

Kaminski is considered a Michigan State lean and his recent comments do nothing but reinforce that sentiment. The 6'7" sharpshooter counts Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio State among his finalists and will announce his destination on July 31st (or soon after). It's pleasantly surprising that UW jumped into the final mix lately even though Kaminski admits he "really [hasn't] talked to them that much."

[2010-11 NCAA Recruiting Calendar]

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ex-Badgers Get Into Summer League Swing

The Orlando Summer League session ended Friday, which means Marcus Landry's shot at the NBA next season may now be out of his control. A five-game stint ended with a DNP - Coach's Decision. It will be tough for Landry to break through with the Pacers because Indiana boasts two of the more impressive wing players in the summer league so far in rookies Paul George and Lance Stephenson (who sat out this morning's game due to injury).

Landry shot well in a blowout loss Tuesday, but in general struggled with 3-point accuracy and defending the wing, as evidenced by some of his foul totals. He averaged 7.3 ppg in 14.5 mpg.

While the Orlando league wrapped up, the Las Vegas summer league was just tipping off, which meant action for former Badgers Brian Butch and Trevon Hughes. Butch, who signed a contract with the Denver Nuggets late last season, already posted 8 points and a +/- of +21 earlier today. After bouncing around post-draft workouts, Hughes is fighting for PT with the Houston Rockets summer league team.

If you were wondering what happened to Joe Krabbenhoft, he's out in Vegas too. In fact, Scott Schroeder wrote up a nice summary of Krabby's D-League experience that led to his presence on Portland's summer league roster.

Krabbenhoft and Greg Stiemsma (Minnesota) won't start play for a few more days. Links to the players summer league statistics can be found on the Badgers in the NBA tab.

See also: July 11 post on Bucksketball

Prospect Profile: Kenny Kaminski

Kenny Kaminski, F
6'7" :: 215 lbs.
Class of 2012
Medina (OH) HS [team site]
AAU: Indiana Elite / Team Pride

::: RANKINGS UPDATED AUG. 31 :::
Rankings
Scout: 3 Stars * * * (#24 PF)
Rivals: 4 Stars * * * * (#77 overall)
ESPN/Scouts, Inc. grade: 90 (#32 PF)


Honors
2010 Honorable Mention All-State (Div. 1)
2010 Second Team All-Northeast Inland District


Recent Press
7/8: Day 2 and 3 at the Adidas Invitational - The Hoosier Scoop
3/14: Avon Lake continues remarkable run - The Chronicle-Telegram
2/12: Medina's boys basketball team has no trouble with Garfield Heights - Cleveland.com
2/4: Dominant first quarter propels Battling Bees - Cleveland.com


The Verbal
No verbal commitment

The Hype
Ohio State AAU Recap - Rivals (6/7/10)
All-Ohio Sweet 16 tournament recap - ESPN (5/24/10)
Double Pump: Friday - Rivals (4/17/10)
Q & A: 2012 Medina forward Kenny Kaminski - Inside the Hall (3/30/10)


Audio/Video
Interview: Kentucky Hoopfest: Kenny Kaminski (7/11/10) - Vimeo
Interview: Kaminski 'leaning' toward Michigan State (5/18/10) - Courier-Journal
Interview: Adidas May Classic: Kenny Kaminski (5/15/10) - Vimeo


Stats
Sophomore: 2009-10 (Medina) - OhioHSsports.com

Additional Info
Team Schedule :: Cleveland.com :: The Chronicle-Telegram

Photos

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Look Ahead: Leuer's Draft Stock

UPDATE (7/8): Jon Leuer is one of 20 collegians named by USA Basketball to the USA Men's Select Team to train against the national team later this month.

Let the record show that in the summer prior to the 2010-11 season, Wisconsin senior Jon Leuer was generally accepted as a projected second-round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Leading writers at two mainstream portals, Fox and ESPN, came out with their own early looks at next year's draft class. Jeff Goodman has Leuer going 55th, while the 6'10" forward was one of the 68 players to watch on Andy Katz's list, saying Leuer "has pro skills."

Full-time draft website NBADraft.net has had Leuer going in the mid-to-late second round for a while now. Somehow DraftExpress.com hardly has Leuer in the top 50 among returning seniors for next season. That is, well, crazy.

Leuer averaged 15.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg and 1.3 bpg with great percentages (52/39/72) during his injury-shortened junior campaign. You could just as easily compare his combined physical profile and scoring prowess to recent first-rounder Craig Brackins from Iowa State as you could to undrafted Mac Koshwal of DePaul. Except that Leuer would be entering the league as a 22-year old graduate. Sure Leuer is versatile and has a better touch from the outside, but rest assured, scouts will be looking for more rebounding from this Badger big man on his farewell tour.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

On the Stove Top: NBA Draft Talk

Today Trevon Hughes participated in his third pre-draft workout of the month, this time for the Indiana Pacers. On Friday, Hughes joined five others in working out for the Charlotte Bobcats, who do not have a pick in this year's draft.

Prior to that, Hughes had worked out with the Sacramento Kings on June 3 and the Milwaukee Bucks in May.

: : :

It's been a while since I touched on the Milwaukee Bucks here, but they made headlines today. Following the (expected) revelation that John Salmons will opt out of his contract this month, Milwaukee has reportedly shipped Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell to the Warriors in exchange for Corey Maggette.

Seems like another Richard Jefferson experiment to me. What is John Hammond thinking? Maggette is just another me-first wing player who came off the bench 20+ times for a 26-win Golden State team. Sure, Milwaukee is getting a player with actual skills, but the trade only saves money for one season since Maggette has three years of bloated salary remaining on his deal. Oh, and he can't shoot threes either.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Recruiting Madness Continues

One day after receiving his dream offer from the University of Wisconsin, Sheboygan Lutheran's Sam Dekker pledged to play basketball for Bo Ryan's Badgers. Dekker became the first member of Wisconsin's 2012 recruiting class with his verbal commitment on Tuesday.

Dekker, now 6'7", was a scoring machine (25.5 ppg) last season as a sophomore after growing four inches. A knock on him as a prospect is the level of competition he faces during the high school season as a Division 3 team in the Central Lakeshore Conference, so it will be interesting to monitor his development. Dekker has enjoyed an impressive AAU season thus far, rising to among the top two or three players in Wisconsin in the 2012 class.

The Badgers also offered their first 2013 tender to 6'1" point guard Bronson Koenig. Koenig just completed his freshmen season at La Crosse Aquinas back in March, averaging just under 15 ppg. He is the second-ranked rising sophomore in the state according to Wishoops.net.

Considering Koenig's offer is one of the earliest ever handed out by Bo -- only two months behind J.P. Tokoto's last spring -- it's safe to say the staff is pretty enamored with the kid's abilities.

It also is another example of Bo's willingness to forgo the NABC guideline regarding offering scholarships to players prior to June 15th after their sophomore year. If memory serves, Bo was up front from day one that a soft guideline was going to be impossible to enforce and thus, potentially detrimental to programs that follow the guideline in lock-step. Some schools run through the dog-and-pony show of promising to offer as soon as the NABC guideline allows (ahem, North Carolina .. or Michigan under John Beilein), which is basically the same thing as offering except they get to pat themselves on the back for following a quasi-rule.

: : :

In other news, Tom Izzo is staying put at Michigan State "for life." A very drawn-out, tense affair for Spartan fans, but a good end result for the Big Ten.

Prospect Profile: Bronson Koenig

Bronson Koenig, PG
6'1" :: 165 lbs.
Class of 2013
La Crosse (WI) Aquinas HS
AAU: Wisconsin Playground Warriors

::: CONTENT UPDATED AUG. 16 :::
Rankings
Scout: NR (PG)
Rivals: NR (PG)
ESPN/Scouts, Inc. grade: NR


Honors
2010 Honorable Mention All-State (AP)
2010 First Team All-Mississippi Valley Conference


Recent Press
6/16: Wisconsin offers basketball scholarship to Aquinas' Koenig - La Crosse Tribune
6/15: Wisconsin extends scholarship offer to Aquinas' Koenig - Wishoops.net
3/16: Green Bay extends scholaship offer to Aquinas' Koenig - Wishoops.net
3/13: Blair-Taylor senior plays shutdown defense against Aquinas - InsidePreps.com
3/6: Freshman Koenig scores 24 in a regional title game - InsidePreps.com
2/6: Blugolds turn up the heat on Rangers - InsidePreps.com


The Verbal
No verbal commitment

The Hype
Observations from the Wisconsin Dells NCAA Exposure Classic - Wishoops.net (7/30/10)
Observations from the Hugh Roberts Classic - Wishoops.net (5/17/10)
Pederson, Koenig help Aquinas rally past Fennimore - Wishoops.net (3/16/10)
Aquinas' Koenig, Onalaska's Thomas make instant impact - La Crosse Tribune (2/26/10)
Koenig key for Aquinas in victory over Holmen - InsidePreps.com (12/15/09)


Video
Interview: Bronson Koenig Interview (8/7/10) - Wishoops.net

Stats
Freshman: 2009-10 (Aquinas) - Wishoops.net

Additional Info
2010-11 Schedule :: La Crosse Tribune

Photos

Prospect Profile: Sam Dekker

Sam Dekker, SF
6'6" :: 195 lbs.
Class of 2012
Sheboygan (WI) Lutheran HS [team site]
AAU: Wisconsin Playground Warriors

::: RANKINGS UPDATED AUG. 31 :::
Rankings
Scout: 3 Stars * * * (#19 SF)
Rivals: 3 Stars * * * (#32 SF/#133 overall)
ESPN/Scouts, Inc. grade: 88 (#35 SF)


Honors
2010 Honorable Mention All-State (Div. 3, WBCA)
2010 Honorable Mention All-State (AP)
2010 First Team All-Central Lakeshore Conference
2009 Second Team All-Central Lakeshore Conference


Recent Press
6/14: Sheboygan Lutheran's Dekker earns scholarship offer from Wisconsin - Wishoops.net
3/5: Oostburg downs Sheb. Area Lutheran, 71-38 - Preps On The Net


The Verbal
Dekker only needs a day to accept Badgers' offer - WiSJ (6/15/2010)
Sheboygan Lutheran's Sam Dekker commits to Wisconsin - Sheboygan Press (6/15/10)
Dekker gives UW men's hoops oral commitment for 2012 - JSOnline (6/15/10)
Sheboygan Lutheran's Dekker verbally commits to Wisconsin - Wishoops.net (6/15/10)


The Hype
Las Vegas Day 1: Underdogs and unknowns shine at Fab48 - MaxPreps (7/22/10)
Observations from the Hugh Roberts Classic - Wishoops.net (5/17/10)
Observations from the Spiece Run-n-Slam - Wishoops.net (5/3/10)
Dekker having breakout season for upstart Sheboygan Lutheran - Wishoops.net (2/17/10)


Audio/Video
Interview: Sam Dekker Interview (8/7/10) - Wishoops.net
AAU: Wisconsin Playground vs. East Troy 16U (7/30/10) - Wishoops.net
Highlights: Playground Warriors vs. Wisconsin Blaze 16U (5/15/10) - Wishoops.net
Game: Oostburg 71, Sheboygan Area Lutheran 38 (3/15/10) - Preps On The Net


Stats
Sophomore: 2009-10 (Lutheran) - MaxPreps
Freshman: 2008-09 (Lutheran) - Wishoops.net


Additional Info
2009-10 Schedule :: Sheboygan Press

Photos

Monday, June 14, 2010

Keeping the Pipelines Open

This past weekend was an important one for Wisconsin recruiting news as Bo Ryan landed two new verbal commitments and extended yet another offer in the Class of 2011.

Center Frank Kaminsky from Benet Academy in Lisle, IL, and combo guard Traevon Jackson from Westerville South near Columbus, OH, add to a 2011 class that already includes Chicago point guard George Marshall. On Friday night, Jarrod Uthoff of Cedar Rapids Jefferson in Iowa officially became the latest competitor for that class' final scholarship.

As soon as Wisconsin extended an offer to Kaminsky in May, this 6'10" coach's son with an inside-outside game looked like a good fit for the Badgers and personally, I considered his verbal commitment only a matter of time. It didn't take long. The staff, led by Howard Moore, bought into his stock low and saw Kaminsky's value grow immediately.

It's interesting that Kaminsky said Wisconsin recruited him as a power forward. I have been insisting that Bo should take two big men this cycle to replace Leuer and Nankivil, and it appears Wisconsin would still take Marshall Plumlee at center if he wanted to sign.

Wisconsin has been recruiting Jackson for a long time, but the fact that he showed a commitment to developing (and showcasing) his point guard skills by switching AAU teams seemed to indicate he would not wind up in Madison. Then a week ago, Jackson said he was choosing between Arizona State and Wisconsin, at which point most Badger fans probably were confident in his commitment. With Marshall already on board, maybe Bo enjoys the three-guard lineup even more than we thought.

No one is labeling Jackson a recruiting coup even though he is the son of hoops legend Jim Jackson, mostly because he had only two BCS-level offers as a rising senior. That's fair. Jackson is not an explosive athlete and I would bet many schools probably didn't bother getting involved early with him because the shadow of dad's alma mater loomed nearby. However, Jackson does possess the strength, leadership, basketball IQ and passing skills that will be a perfect fit in the program. Comparisons to Jordan Taylor are legit. Plus, it's good to have another Traevon/Travon/Trevon in the fold ...

Besides the obvious benefit of acquiring quality student-athletes, the verbals were valuable toward maintaining UW's recruiting connections made over the last few years. Kaminsky plays for the Illinois Wolves AAU team, coached by Mike Mullins. Last September, Wisconsin had one former Wolf (Diamond Taylor) on its roster, one verbally committed (Hodges) and outstanding offers to two more (Randle, Egwu). That foursome evaporated completely over the last year. So it's good to get back in with an important AAU program in the region that produces good D-I talent and runs a clean ship.

The Wisconsin football team has seen its Ohio recruiting net some great talent and the basketball program seems to be buying into the same theory now. Jackson will be the second Buckeye on the UW roster during Rob Wilson's senior year.

As for Uthoff, his stock is rising on the summer circuit after earning first team All-State honors as a junior. Uthoff's passing will get the most praise based on his highlight reels. Though he is a skinny 6'8" now, Uthoff may wind up as the second big Wisconsin is looking for if he can add some muscle.

Iowa countered with a scholarship offer of its own two days after Wisconsin, joining a long list that includes Butler, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa State. Uthoff's cousin, Dean, is still the all-time leading rebounder in Cyclone history. Expect Uthoff to join Plumlee as Wisconsin's primary targets going forward in 2011. Gary Close is Bo's lead recruiter in Iowa.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Prospect Profile: Jarrod Uthoff

Jarrod Uthoff, F
6'8" :: 200 lbs.
Class of 2011
Cedar Rapids (IA) Jefferson HS [team site]
AAU: Iowa Barnstormers

::: RANKINGS UPDATED AUG. 24 :::
Rankings
Scout: 4 Stars * * * * (#18 PF/#77 overall) Previous: 3 Stars
Rivals: 3 Stars * * * (#150 overall) Previous: NR (PF)
ESPN/Scouts, Inc. grade: 94 (#19 > #17 PF)


Honors
2010 First Team All-State (Class 4A, INA)
2010 Second Team All-State (4A, Des Moines Register)
2010 Mississippi Valley Conference Player of the Year
2010 Area Player of the Year (Cedar Rapids Gazette)


Recent Press
4/29: Cedar Rapids Jefferson basketball recruit Jarrod Uthoff is making the rounds - Cedar Rapids Gazette
4/19: Iowa Barnstormers 17's Win Spring Fling - Scout.com
3/10: East opens tourney vs. CR Jefferson - Sioux City Journal
3/2: J-Hawks Clinch State Tournament Berth - jhsmensbasketball.com
2/2: J-Hawks Continue Winning Ways - jhsmensbasketball.com


The Verbal
Uthoff gives UW men's hoops oral commitment for 2011 class - JSOnline (7/19/10)
Uthoff says Wisconsin is 'best fit' - Cedar Rapids Gazette (7/19/10)
Uthoff picks Wisconsin - Iowa City Press-Citizen (7/19/10)
Cedar Rapids Jefferson's Uthoff chooses Wisconsin - Des Moines Register (7/19/10)
Badgers land Iowa forward - WiSJ (7/19/10)
Jarrod Uthoff Turns Down Illini To Join Bo Ryan's Badgers - BleacherReport (7/20/10)


The Hype
Illini offer Jarrod Uthoff, the next Gordon Hayward? - IlliniHQ.com (5/7/10)
Jefferson Pulls Away from Prairie - jhsmensbasketball.com (2/12/10)
J-Hawks Build Early Lead - Uthoff Dominates - jhsmensbasketball.com (1/22/10)
Uthoff's play rekindles J-Hawk memories - Cedar Rapids Gazette (12/15/09)


Audio/Video
Interview: Uthoff Picks Wisconsin (7/19/10) - KCRG
Highlights: Jarrod Uthoff - HardwoodElite.com (7/1/10) - YouTube
News Feature: Jefferson's Uthoff Has Big Decision to Make (6/22/10) - KCRG
Interview: Dan Poneman chats with Jarrod Uthoff (5/10/10) - YouTube
Highlights: Jarrod Uthoff SWAGair Highlight Mixtape #1 (5/10/10) - YouTube


Stats
None available

Additional Info
2010-11 Schedule [2009-10] :: Cedar Rapids Gazette

Photos

Friday, June 11, 2010

Non-conference Schedule Finalized

Today Wisconsin announced the cupcakes that will fill the gaps in its 2010-11 non-conference schedule.

In addition to two preseason exhibitions, Wisconsin will play Prairie View A&M, North Dakota, South Dakota and Coppin State next year. Along with the Old Spice Classic, three annual in-state games and previously announced matchups, these four games complete UW's slate outside the Big Ten.

Wisconsin's initial opponent in the Old Spice Classic has not been determined yet, but the Badgers could play as a many as three games in Orlando if they advance to the tournament's championship.

Visits to the Kohl Center by North Dakota and South Dakota will be homecomings for three former prep standouts from Wisconsin. Redshirt sophomore Dan Stockdale from Sheboygan and Brookfield Academy's Troy Huff will be suiting up next season for the Fighting Sioux (no, not the North Dakota State Bison that upset the Badgers in 2006). Racine's Jake Thomas, a rising sophomore, is the leading returning scorer for the South Dakota Coyotes. Both schools are members of the Great West Conference.

2010-11 non-conference schedule:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Intro to Nebraska Basketball

The University of Colorado officially pushed over the first domino in conference realignment Thursday by accepting an invitation to the Pac-10, one day after several sources reported Nebraska plans to bolt from the Big XII as well.

Whether it's official on Friday, next week or six months from now, Nebraska's move to the Big Ten appears inevitable. So you might as well get to know your new conference opponent, known as UNL (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) or NU. Everyone knows about the massive nationwide following that the storied football program brings to the Big Ten Network. But the university is a good academic and geographic fit for the conference, despite being an unglamorous addition for hoops.

Though Nebraska's undergraduate population is much smaller than Wisconsin's -- it will become the smallest public university in the Big Ten in fact -- the two share some common bonds. Lincoln is the capital city of Nebraska, boasting a population similar to the Madison area. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez played football and earned a master's degree at Nebraska. And wearing their own "scarlet and cream" take on red and white uniforms, the Cornhuskers will appear like Badger doppelgangers on the field.

When it comes to basketball though, Nebraska's pedigree leaves a lot to be desired. If you're like me, you probably picture Eric Piatkowski and coach Danny Nee when you think of the Cornhuskers. As The Police sang, those days are over.

Nebraska is winless in six total NCAA Tournament appearances and has not danced since 1998. The school's basketball highlight is winning the 1996 NIT title. The Cornhuskers suffered through a mediocre decade after a nice run in the 90's and are 15-33 all-time in the Big XII conference tournament ('91 runner-up, '94 champs).

In fairness, Nebraska leads the hardwood series with Wisconsin, 10-6. The 16 matchups are the most between any Big XII team and UW. But in their last tilt back in 1998, the Badgers roughed up the Huskers, 78-41, which stands as the second-largest margin of victory away from home in UW's program history.

And if you want to compare marginal NBA track records, the Badgers hold the edge there also. Two season ago, the NBA featured former Cornhuskers such as journeymen Tyronn Lue and Mikki Moore in addition to Piatkowski. The most successful professional Husker hooper was a guy named Stu Lantz in the 70's. I'd take Michael Finley, Devin Harris or even Wes Matthews over those names.

Current head coach Doc Sadler is entering his fifth season in Lincoln, sporting a 70-58 record. However the Cornhuskers must recover from last season's dreadful 2-14 campaign in conference play (15-18 overall) without departing senior Ryan Anderson, their leading scorer and rebounder. Nebraska will look toward JUCO transfer Caleb Walker and junior guard Brandon Richardson to lead the way.

Nebraska's basketball arena at the Bob Devaney Sports Center seats 13,595, which would rank 11th in the current Big 10 landscape. However, Nebraska is in the midst of upgrading its basketball facilities so there is hope. In the next month, construction will begin on a new practice facility, the Hendricks Training Complex. Perhaps more importantly, in May the townsfolk approved a proposal for the new Lincoln Haymarket Arena, which hopes to hold around 16,000 for basketball starting in 2013. The new building's capacity would rank sixth in the conference, just ahead of Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

In non-revenue sports, Nebraska has been a strong presence for years, annually hovering around the top 10% in the Director's Cup standings, much like Wisconsin. The school brings a powerhouse women's volleyball team (three national championships), along with with titles in gymnastics, track and field, and ... women's bowling. Nebraska has trailed only Texas in total Big XII titles over the years.

Additional Links:
Huskers.com - official basketball home page
Husker Hoops Central - free message board
Huskers Illustrated - Rivals.com coverage

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Keeping Track of Hughes News

Trevon Hughes has had a busy month preparing for his professional basketball career. But he still had time to speak his mind as he works toward new opportunities.

During the first week of May, Hughes chose his representation by signing on with Kyle Weaver's agent, Mike Hodges. Hodges represents at least three other players in this year's pool of pro hopefuls, including likely NBA draft picks Darington Hobson (New Mexico) and the underrated Dominique Jones (South Florida).

Then about 10 days ago, Hughes got his feet wet in a pre-draft workout with the "hometown" Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks typically invite former college or high school stars from the area to showcase themselves at these workouts whether or not there is a good fit for them on the team. I think it's a good practice.

But Hughes really made headlines that day with a couple bizarre remarks in an Associated Press story in which he admitted he often thought Bo Ryan "hated" him during his Wisconsin career. A week later I am still baffled by Pop's comments and left to wonder what effect they could have on an incoming recruit. I have always thought that Hughes' success on and off the court could be instrumental to bringing in some of the younger players Wisconsin has courted. Who do you think guys like Vander Blue or George Marshall identify with when they consider the Badgers?

Hughes went on to say he didn't think Bo's swing offense hampered his chances of making the NBA, even though he said the system "probably hides your talent" somewhat. What kind of opportunity Hughes gets at the next level remains to be seen. (**Update: Hughes worked out for Sacramento on June 3**)

I actually didn't realize that Hughes was already 23-years-old until I found his profile on Draft Express while looking for pre-draft measurements. There wasn't much info available for Hughes and the measurables didn't particularly stand out from this year's crop either. He stands over six feet tall without shoes, with an average wingspan and a standing reach of just under eight feet.

For comparison's sake, Hughes looks a lot like Brandin Knight, Sean Singletary, Jonny Flynn or Lawrence Westbrook if you squint at 'em. Looking at some comparisons (Knight or Singletary), maybe Pop could have a cup of coffee in the NBA. But it's more likely that he's the next Badger destined to thrive in Europe or the D-League.

In April, Trevon Hughes survived a game two hiccup to average 12.3 pts, 6 rebs, 3.3 assts and 1.6 stls per game at the Portsmouth Invitational. While his assist-to-turnover ratio wasn't great, he kept it over 1:1 while playing the fourth-most minutes of any player. Pop exploded for 16 second-half points in his team's championship game victory. [box score]

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wisconsin Gets Wolfpack In Challenge

The 2010 Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchups were officially released yesterday and some prognosticators already give an edge to the Big Ten. The general consensus is that Wisconsin should prevail over N.C. State on Dec. 1 in the friendly confines of the Kohl Center.

There is no reason to get deep into the matchup's specifics until this fall, but interesting tidbits abound as this popular series continues into its second decade ...

:: Wisconsin is one of only seven teams that have played in all 11 Challenges so far, due to the two conferences' size inequality over the years. The ACC had only nine active members until 2005 and has had 12 since 2006.

:: When the Big Ten had more members, a pair of randomly selected teams rotated in and out of the challenge every two years. Now that the ACC is larger, it's last-place team sits out of the competition the following year, leading to what some view as a slight advantage for that conference.

Before jumping to conclusions, one thing to consider is how good the ACC's "odd man out" actually wound up performing that season. The ACC usually does luck out, but the Big Ten may have dodged a bullet in 2007:

Only two times did the Big Ten cellar dweller miss the Challenge the following year (Penn State, 2003-04).

:: The Badgers are tied with Northwestern for the most road losses (5) of any team in the series, while posting the Big Ten's best home winning percentage (.750). N.C. State is nearly a mirror image to Wisconsin in terms of past challenge success. The tilt with the Wolfpack will be UW's fifth home game in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Both Maryland (@Penn State) and Wake Forest (home vs. Iowa) are 5-0 at home.

:: While Wisconsin will try to reach the .500 mark all-time in this series, the Big Ten is going for its second-straight win to swing momentum in its favor. After starting out competitively (the ACC led 20-15 overall after four years), the Big Ten got pummeled, 36-15, between 2003 and 2007.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

J.P. Tokoto Is Smoother Than Ever

Sophomore J.P. Tokoto doubles as the top prep player in Wisconsin and one of the hottest national recruits. I didn't get to see Tokoto play live this season, but watched him last summer in a few AAU games and saw a skilled, natural talent worthy of the hype.

Though he sat out last weekend's state AAU tournament in Stoughton (he's currently a little dinged up physically), Tokoto displayed his full array of skills with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors at the Bill Hensley Memorial Run N' Slam tourney in Fort Wayne, Ind., to start the month of May. Judging by his highlights from that event, the 6'6" swingman has been working hard on his game in the past year.



In particular, note the ease with which Tokoto crosses his dribble over between the legs (see :34 and 1:28). He is a natural help-side shotblocker and his explosive ability to rise and finish is already well-documented.

Tokoto averaged 18.6 ppg and 10 rpg for Menomonee Falls last season.

Monday, May 10, 2010

April Showers Bring May Offers

The past week has been relatively newsworthy for Wisconsin from a recruiting perspective, despite the summer doldrums setting in.

It all started just over a week ago on April 30 when Ben Brust won his second appeal to re-sign within the Big Ten after his release from Iowa. All signs pointed toward Brust choosing either Wisconsin or Northwestern.

While Brust was playing in an academic all-star game out in California, the AAU circuit was heating up in Indiana, where 6'10" supernova Anthony Davis exploded at the Spiece Run 'N Slam tournament. The Chicago Perspectives star promptly received a scholarship offer from Wisconsin that Sunday.

But Davis wasn't the only Illinois big man who caught the coaching staff's eye. Benet Academy center Frank Kaminsky of the Illinois Wolves, another 6'10" senior-to-be, received the same offer following his visit to Madison on Thursday. That move pushed the number of confirmed outstanding scholarship offers from the Badgers for the 2011 class into double-digits, with six of those players hailing from the Land of Lincoln.

Then on Friday night, Brust officially signed on to play for Bo Ryan during his official campus visit with Duje Dukan. Bo will look for Brust to do some of the things Jason Bohannon provided from the shooting guard position for the past four years. All in all, he's a pretty nice late addition to the 2010 class.

The news was not all perfect, however. One of Wisconsin's major Illinois targets, Mycheal Henry, was reportedly coming to Madison today, but chose on Monday to commit to the Illini instead. Henry picked Illinois over Wisconsin and Georgetown. Brust's commitment probably didn't have any bearing on Henry's choice, seeing as there is much more of a log jam at the wing positions in Champaign than here. Bruce Weber's team will be loaded for the next several years, though he definitely has high expectations to achieve.

The fast-rising Henry appeared to be a good fit for the Badgers, who told Henry he would fill the role of a go-to scorer on the team. Personally I was hoping that George Marshall could have done some recruiting for UW to that end, but the draw of the home-state school was too strong. Let's hope Marshall stays true.

I still have not gotten word on whether Milwaukee Vincent sophomore Phillip Nolan actually made it to campus last week for a visit as anticipated. Some speculated that Nolan was on the verge a receiving in offer for the 2012 class. Jarrod Uthoff is the next name to listen for in 2011.

: : :

As Wisconsin attempts to reel in three more players for 2011, it was a slight disappointment to hear who the team hosts in next season's Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Badgers will be able to invite recruits to a battle with North Carolina ... State.

However, I do like the idea of the league top teams going on the road. If Purdue, Michigan State and Ohio State are as good as advertised, each has a good chance of winning in any venue against any team. That means many of the swing games will be held in Big Ten arenas for a change. See, I can be optimistic sometimes ...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Prospect Profile: Frank Kaminsky

Frank Kaminsky, C
6'10" :: 220 lbs.
Class of 2011
Lisle (IL) Benet Academy
AAU: Illinois Wolves

::: RANKINGS UPDATED AUG. 24 :::
Rankings
Scout: 3 Stars * * * (#20 C) Previous: 2 Stars > 3 Stars (#17 C)
Rivals: 3 Stars * * * (C)
ESPN/Scouts, Inc. grade: 88 (#34 > #33 > #36 C)


Honors
2010: DuPage County All Area Team (Daily Herald)
2010: All East Suburban Catholic Conference


Recent Press
6/16: Benet's Frank Kaminsky chooses Wisconsin - IlliniHQ.com
6/3: Sabbatical allows Frank Kaminsky to grow - IlliniHQ.com
5/8: Frank Kaminsky receives second high major offer - Illinois Prep Bulls Eye
3/15: Redwings trying to bake fewer turnovers - Chicago Sun-Times
1/16: Kaminsky leads Benet to win over Oswego in historic gym - Chicago Tribune


The Verbal
Benet's Kaminsky commits to Wisconsin - Chicago Sun-Times (6/12/10)
Benet center Frank Kaminsky commits to Wisconsin - Chicago Tribune (6/12/10)
Jim Jackson's son among two commitments for Badgers - WiSJ (6/12/10)


The Hype
Kaminsky leads Benet in comeback - Chicago Sun-Times (3/2/10)
Size = Offers ... Kaminsky nabs big one - City/Suburban Hoops Report (5/6/10)
Redwings end St. Joe's 31-game win streak - Chicago Sun-Times (2/21/10)
Redwings pull off inside job - Naperville Sun (12/17/09)


Audio/Video
Highlights: Illini Team Camp (6/24/10) - WEEK News 25
Interview: Frank Kaminsky - SWAGair Interview w/Dan Poneman (6/17/10) - YouTube
Highlights: Frank Kaminsky - 2011 Highlights - Illinois Wolves (4/20/10) - YouTube


Stats
2009-10: Junior (Benet) - ESCC

Additional Info
Team Schedule :: Chicago Sun-Times

Photos

Monday, May 3, 2010

Prospect Profile: Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis, C
6'10" :: 220 lbs.
Class of 2011
Chicago (IL) Perspectives Charter School
AAU: Mean Streets

::: RANKINGS UPDATED JULY 5 :::
Rankings
Scout: 5 Stars * * * * * (#3 PF/#5 overall) Previous: NR (C) > 5 Stars (#4 PF/#9)
Rivals: 5 Stars * * * * * (#3 PF/#8 overall) Previous: NR > 5 Stars (#1 C > #2 PF/#7 overall)
ESPN/Scouts, Inc. grade: 93 (#13 PF/#77 overall)


Honors
None

Recent Press
5/5: Word gets out about Davis -- finally - ESPNChicago.com
5/2: The Scholarship Offer Party Continues for 6'10" Chicago Perspectives Star Anthony Davis - ChicagoHoops.com
4/29: Perspectives' Davis getting noticed - Chicago Sun-Times


The Verbal
No verbal commitment

The Hype
Bill Hensley Memorial Run 'N Slam: Day Two - Rivals (5/2/10)
Bill Hensley Memorial Run 'N Slam: Day One - Rivals (5/1/10)
Perspectives-IIT tops Rauner - Chicago Sun-Times (3/2/09)


Audio/Video
Highlights: Anthony Davis has a breakout weekend at Spiece (5/3/10) - YouTube
Interview: Anthony Davis Highlights & Interview with Dan Poneman (5/1/10) - YouTube
Highlights: Anthony Davis & Jamari Traylor "The Meanstreets Monsters" (4/26/10) = YouTube


Stats
None

Additional Info
Chicago Sun-Times

Photos

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