Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A look at the Badger basketball recruits

A few weeks ago I mentioned my love for preseason college football magazines. That was actually preceded by my love for preseason college basketball magazines. My first was Street and Smith, 1987-88, with Keith Smart and Bobby Knight of Indiana on the cover. By today's standards it was remarkably tame, mostly black and white newsprint. Inside was the high school All-American team, headlined by Alonzo Mourning, Billy Owens, and Chris Jackson.

Those high school All-American lists were always fascinating to me. In the pre-Internet world, this accounted for 90% of the prep hoops information I got in any given year, the other 10% being the McDonald's All-American game.

I was tardy getting my first preseason pub this year, but picked one up last week - Sporting News - and immediately flipped to the high school pages. I was pleased to see three of the Badgers' four recent signees listed.

-Jared Berggren, a 6-10 center from Princeton, Minn., was high honorable mention.

-Robert Wilson, a 6-2 (or 6-5, depending on what you read) wing from Garfield Heights, Ohio, was also high honorable mention.

The Berggren signing was key. His commitment happened before Tubby Smith took over at Minnesota, and if Tubby can build any semblance of a wall around that state, it will cut off a nice little talent pipeline we've had going these last few years (Jon Leuer, Kammron Taylor, Jordan Taylor). He'll move in nicely to the spots Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma will be vacating. Rivals has him listed as the #11 center prospect in the country.

Wilson is just as important. As was exposed against Duke, we need guards/wings to hang with top teams, and we're just not that deep there at this time. The current freshman class brought in two bigs and a wing who's more of a shooter than a lockdown defender, although Tim Jarmusz's athleticism may be underrated.

-Jordan Taylor is the other guard Bo Ryan signed, a 6-1 point guard from Erik Olson's neck of the woods, St. Louis Park, Minn. He doesn't show up anywhere on my All-American lists, but he may end up being the most important member of this recruiting class. With Michael Flowers graduating, we'll need a backup point next year, and though Bo usually doesn't play freshman point guards much, you need insurance behind Trevon Hughes. Rivals ranks Taylor as the 22nd best point guard in the country. Sounds like a good kid - National Honor Society, won other academic awards.

-Ian Markolf, a 7-1 center from San Antonio, was the last guy to commit, and made Sporting News' honorable mention All-American list. Can never have too many 7-footers, as long as they can play.

Or do you? While I will never criticize Bo and his staff for their recruiting - 20 years ago, the Badgers would be lucky to get one high school All-American, let alone three or four - part of me wonders if the roster is getting too heavy on bigs. The college game has become so guard-oriented, as we saw against Duke and as we'll see Saturday against Marquette. There aren't many teams like Florida the last two season that can throw out an NBA style lineup with prototypes at 1-2-3-4-5. It isn't hard to imagine a 2010-11 viable frontcourt of Leuer, Berggren and Markolf or Keaton Nankivil, but would defensive matchups ever make that possible to put out there?

No Wisconsin kids in this class, but there are two key recruits from the state in the class of 2009: 6-11 Evan Anderson of Eau Claire North and 6-7 Jamil Wilson of Racine Horlick. Lots of the power programs are lining up for these guys, getting them to commit to the state's most popular basketball program would be huge. We're also still in the running for guard Diamond Taylor of Westchester (Ill.) St. Joseph's, Andy's favorite high school player.


Craig Pintens said...

Long live Chris Jackson. Please put a tag on him so he can be linked to something other than crazy 9-11 rants, not standing for the national anthem, and tourette's.

Until this season, the only three players to ever be consensus All-Americans as freshmen were Ralph Sampson, Chris Jackson, and Kevin Durant.

scott.tappa said...

That mention really was for you, Craig!

How awesome was he, though? He wasn't that big, strong, or fast, but he just knew how to score.

Craig Pintens said...

Thanks for the shout out.

With everyone talking about Durant last season, what Jackson did his freshman year was nothing short of remarkable.

Durant didn't score more points than his 965. Jackson averaged 30.2! 1000 points is a huge milestone in college basketball and Jackson reached it easily in his 2nd year at LSU.

A game I still have on tape is LSU vs. Loyola Marymount game from the 1989-90 season when Jackson was a sophomore and Shaq was a freshmen. The final was 148-141 LSU in overtime. It was probably one of the greatest regular season games ever, with Shaq recording a triple-double, Jackson going off for 34, and Hank Gathers, just finding his way back from his first heart problem of the season scoring 48. I can't remember how many Kimble had, but he must have had 30something.

ajs said...

I agree with your take on recruiting bigs. I too am not in any position to criticize the staff on their recruiting efforts but it seems Bo's focus is stock piling bigs. It's very rare we are able to keep Butch and Steamer on the floor at the same time- we are forced to sub to keep up with smaller lineups rather then making our opponents match up with our size. On the other hand it's extremely difficult to find bigs who can play so you have to play the hit/miss game in recruiting.

The 3pt shot has become the great equalizer in college basketball- see Jon Bryant. I hope Wilson can become a threat from deep- outside of (a healthy) JBo we are lacking a pure 3pt shooter. If there's one glaring need it's bringing in a sharp-shooter. I'm not sold on Jarmusz

I've never seen Evan Anderson play but he's gaining a lot of attention nationally. Is he the real deal?

Millie said...

One word to anyone in the Twin Cities (or anyone interested in making a trip here the first week of January). On Saturday, January 5th, the Timberwolves shootout will be held at the Target Center. We've gone to this event before and had some fun. I think the plan is to take in some high school hoops and check out at some point to grab a burger and watch the NFL playoffs.

Among the players you'll be able to see that day are Berggren, Jordan Taylor, Jrue Holliday (big-time PG in 2008 class, #3 according to Rivals), Marquette signee Nick Williams, DeMarcus Cousins (#5 player in 2009 class acc to Rivals), Trent Lockett (Arizona State signee for class of 2009), Naji Hibbert (#54 player in 2008 acc to Rivals), Iowa signee Anthony Tucker and Madison Memorial's Jeronne Maymon. Here's a writeup I gleaned from the web:

12:00 Princeton vs. LeFlore (Ala)

Princeton features Jared Berggren, the senior center headed to Wisconsin. Leflore features Nick Williams, a powerful, 6'3" senior shooting guard headed to Marquette, along with DeMarcus Cousins, ranked the #5 player in the class of 2009 by Rivals. Cousins is a 6'9" junior power forward - should be interesting to see how he matches up with Berggren.

2:00 Cass Lake-Bena vs. White Station (TN)

Cass Lake is always enjoyable to watch, as they get up and down the court very quickly. White Station is a solid team out of Memphis, with a couple nice players to watch. Eric Buggs is a 2 star (Rivals) senior point guard headed to Valpo. Ferrakohn Hall is a 6'7" junior power forward rated #60 overall by Rivals for the junior class with a very impressive list of schools interested. Finally, and maybe best of the bunch, is Joe Jackson, 6-0 guard who is ranked as the #7 sophomore in the nation by Rivals.

4:00 Hopkins vs. DeMatha (MD)

Hopkins is still loaded, even after losing a few nice seniors last season, including Gopher Blake Hoffarber. They are led this season by a great group of juniors. Trent Lockett has already committed to Arizona State, and Ray Cowles, Marcus Williams, and Mike Broghammer all also seem to be in line for Division 1 scholarships. They also have 6'10" senior Anthony DiLoretto, who recently committed to D-1 Cal-Poly. DeMatha is a perennial powerhouse, with alumni such as Keith Bogans, Joe Forte, and Adrian Dantley. They are lead by 6'5" junior wing Naji Hibbert, ranked as the #54 player in the junior class by Rivals. They also have another talented young guard in Josh Selby, a sophomore.

6:00 Minnetonka vs. Campbell Hall (Los Angeles)
This could very well be the Marquee matchup of the day. Minnetonka is widely regarded as the most talented team in the state of Minnesota this year. They are lead by 6'3" senior guard Anthony Tucker, a sharpshooter headed to Iowa next season. Joining him with a Division 1 scholarship is CJ Erickson, a versatile southpaw headed to Evansville. They are joined by numerous other players that will play Division 1 or 2 college basketball in the near future. Campbell Hall is lead by senior Jrue Holiday, the #3 player in the nation. He is a dazzling 6'3" combo guard who can take over games and is a joy to watch. He'll be headed to UCLA next season. Holiday is complimented nicely by 6'0" senior guard Dallas Rutherford and 6'6" junior Keegan Hornbuckle.

8:00 Benilde-St. Margaret vs. Madison Memorial
Benilde features two Division 1 prospects of their own - senior point guard Jordan Taylor, a heady floor leader headed to Wisconsin, and 6'6" wing Armond Battle, a lanky scorer off to Tulsa. Memorial is lead by 6'7" junior Jeronne Maymon, a very talented forward who can score inside and out. Memorial is a powerhouse in Wisconsin and is always well coached.

Schwib said...

Millie - I may be up for the Shootout this year, lots of talent this year.

Get my e-mail from Tappa and shoot me message with your cell info. Closer to 1/5, I'll see if it's doable.

I've always wanted to go this event, as it always draws some teams with big-time talent. It would be great to see the UW kids as well Holliday.

Schwib said...

I knew Pintens would be all over the Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf reference.

Scott Tappa said...


-I watched that LSU-Loyola Marymount game about 100 times, but do NOT still have the tape! LMU was so much fun to watch, it's too bad no one's figured out a way to play that way and be competitive since.

-Haven't seen Evan Anderson, hope they make it to state this year so we can.

-That's a hell of a tournament in the Cities, but I won't make it. It's great to see these tournaments being set up, I love seeing high school powerhouses from different parts of the country getting to play one another.

Heavystarch said...

Just thought I would comment after reading your blog here.

Your not the only one questioning all the bigs, but in reality two years ago we were complaining about the lack of bigs to match up with the likes of Michigan State and others.

Anyways, here is how 2009 Projects:

We are the leaders for Diamond Taylor
We also lead for Jordan Prosser, but it is unknown currently if his offer is live
We are heavily in the running for Jamil Wilson. It will likely come down to us and Marquette.
We also are doing well for the services of Tyler Griffey. He is another big out of Missouri.
We have little or no shot at Rodney Williams, but we are still definitely right there for Royce White. It looks like it will be between us and Minnesota for him.

So for a 2009 projection, I see:
One of Jamil Wilson/Royce White
One of Tyler Griffey/Jordan Prosser
Diamond Taylor
I am not sure of schollies available after that. Jeronne Maymon from Memorial is another likely possibility, but he is a plan B at this point.

For 2010, we have 2 huge must get targets in the state of Wisconsin.

Evan Anderson is actually in this class, and he is rated the fifth best player in the nation by Rivals.

Also, look for Flavien Davis to be a Badger. He has been in and out of campus all his life and seems to love UW. Lets only hope so.

Also of note for 2010 is Marquis Mason and Kyle Kelm. Mason is getting football interest and Kelm already has four offers.

Here is a nice site, with a lot of detailed football recruiting info as well.

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