Over the past few years, the state of Wisconsin has been the home to many elite collegiate basketball prospects. As a result, it’s started a war between Wisconsin and Marquette trying to keep the recruits in state, at their respective programs.
All rankings are according to 24/7sports.com
From 2010-15, there have been 12 players ranked in the top-120 nationally from the state of Wisconsin. Seven of the players have chosen either Wisconsin or Marquette. Here’s a quick recap.
The top ranked player in the state, Vander Blue, committed to then Marquette coach Buzz Williams and the Golden Eagles. Blue was ranked 28th nationally, and he played two years for Marquette before moving on to the NBA. It was a big loss for Bo Ryan, with Blue going to high school right in his backyard at Madison Memorial High School. The Badgers recruited Blue, but he ended up spurring the the city of Madison.
Wisconsin had two top-100 prospects, in the form of Sam Dekker and J.P. Tokoto. Dekker was ranked 12th nationally, and of course, ended up committing to Wisconsin. Tokoto was ranked 66th nationally, but spurred both of his home state teams and chose to go to North Carolina.
You don’t need much history of Dekker’s collegiate career, but he helped lead Wisconsin teams to back-to-back Final Fours. He left after his junior year getting drafted in the first round by the Houston Rockets.
Tokoto played three seasons for UNC, leaving right before this year’s NCAA Champion Runner-Up Tar Heels squad. His career was ended in the Sweet Sixteen by, you guessed it, the Wisconsin Badgers and Sam Dekker. He was drafted by the 76ers in the second round of the NBA Draft.
The state of Wisconsin had four top-120 recruits.
Matt Thomas was ranked 55th in the nation and had offers from both Wisconsin and Marquette, but chose to play hoops at Iowa State.
Duane Wilson, Jr. was ranked 59th in the nation, and committed to Marquette, with no offer from Wisconsin. Wilson Jr. averaged 11.6 PPG and 2.5 APG for this year’s Golden Eagles team.
Luke Fischer was ranked 89th in the nation, but spurred both Marquette and Wisconsin, choosing Indiana. He eventually went to Marquette.
Bronson Koenig was ranked 111th in the nation, and had offers from both Wisconsin and Marquette (as well as Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia). And now you know his story as well, because he played a key role in the two Final Four teams, as well sending Wisconsin to the Sweet Sixteen on a game winner last month.
Milwaukee product Kevon Looney was the rated the 12th best prospect in the class, and despite having offers from both Wisconsin and Marquette, chose to go to UCLA. He played one season there, and was the Golden State Warriors first-round choice in last year’s draft.
Sandy Cohen committed to Marquette as the 73rd overall prospect, and has had an up-and-down first two years there.
Wisconsin had another successful crop of athletes, having 3 top-100 recruits.
Diamond Stone was the 6th ranked recruit heading to college, having offers from 18 schools, including Wisconsin and Marquette. Wisconsin was in his final three, but he chose Maryland. Stone had a stellar freshman season and is headed on his way to becoming a first-round draft choice next month.
Wisconsin and Marquette split the next two, with Henry Ellenson (9th overall) and Brevin Pritzl (94th) choosing their respective schools. Both athletes had offers from both Wisconsin and Marquette. Ellenson had an excellent freshman season, and is joining Stone in jumping to the NBA. Pritzl got injured early in his freshman year and is hoping to get a medical redshirt year.
As mentioned earlier, with the state raising more stars at the high school level, the two programs are trying to claim their turf. There is a lot of talent in the next few classes that Greg Gard and Steve Wojciechowski are already battling for. With the two coaches recently taking over their respective programs, there is a lot to be decided on who’s going to take the advantage of the in-state recruits.
Marquette landed Sam Hauser, the 83rd best player set to hit college next year. Wisconsin recruited Hauser, but did not give him a scholarship offer before he said yes to Marquette.
Jordan Poole, the 63rd prospect, chose Michigan despite being from Milwaukee and having a Marquette offer. Wisconsin did not offer Poole.
Kobe King committed to Wisconsin in September of 2015. He is currently the 80th ranked prospect.
Terrance Lewis, a prospect out of Milwaukee scratching into the top-100, has not been offered by Wisconsin nor Marquette.
The class of 2018 is the biggest battle for Gard and Wojciechowski. There are three players, none of which have committed yet, that have been recruited by both schools.
Joey Hauser, whose brother Sam was mentioned above, is the 35th ranked player in the class. He has offers from both schools.
Tyler Herro also has offers from both schools, and is the 87th ranked prospect.
Jordan McCabe is the 92nd ranked prospect, with no offers from the Badgers or the Golden Eagles, yet. He has been recruited by both schools.
There is a long way to go in terms of final rankings and the athletes signing their letters of intent. With the two head coaches of the premiere programs in Wisconsin being relatively new, it’s a chance for them to get an early advantage in their home state.
So far, however, each has gotten a major player from in-state, with Wojciechowski getting Hauser to commit, and Gard countering that with Kobe King.
Neither program necessarily won over the other during the tenures of Bo Ryan and Buzz Williams in recruiting. However, over the past few seasons, Wisconsin has separated themselves on the court with three solid tournament runs in recent years. A lot of help came from in-state prospects who were mentioned such as Sam Dekker and Bronson Koenig, as well as players who weren’t mentioned such as Zak Showalter.
With the talent pool growing in Wisconsin, the Badgers have a chance to separate themselves more, whereas Marquette has the chance to catch up.
Photo courtesy of Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports.