Bo Ryan was a strong believer in recruiting to fit the system and developing players over their four years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This often meant recruiting low profile players that fit in his swing offense, and it’s hard to argue that style since that system got him to back to back Final Fours at the very tail end of his career.
But, have you ever wondered what kind of success the Badgers could reach if they recruited high level talent that would be ready to play earlier in their careers?
Well, new head coach Greg Gard is switching it up from Ryan’s old beliefs, as his first full recruiting class is currently ranked third.
Third, not just in the Big Ten, but in the nation.
To put that in perspective, the average ranking in the nation of Wisconsin’s last five classes is 72nd. In fact, the Badgers never had a higher ranking than 39, which was in 2013 when Ryan signed Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Vitto Brown, and Jordan Hill.
Interestingly enough, the Badgers made that significant jump by dominating the two states they have control the most, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Gard stole the second and fifth best players from Minnesota in the form of Nathan Reuvers and Brad Davison. The third signee, Kobe King, is the third best player from Wisconsin.
The three players are close, and King and Reuvers were very active in recruiting Davison, the last member of the trio to sign. Most notably was when King and Reuvers were at an elite camp together, when the two let Davison know his presence was missed.
Gard has brought in a dynamic recruiting class, with all three players offering something different to the table.
Four-star shooting guard Kobe King has outstanding attacking ability with handles to match. King attends La Crosse Central High School, and played in the Wisconsin state title game last year. King had offers from Marquette and Iowa State, among others. He will bring scoring to a roster that by the time he steps foot on campus will badly need it, with Koenig, Hayes, and Brown all moving on after their senior seasons.
Reuvers is the second four-star recruit of this class. Reuvers is a 6’9″ power forward who received other scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Minnesota, and Illinois. He most recently made headlines when he dominated in the Kohl Center at Wisconsin’s camp. Reuvers is going to draw instant comparisons to Ethan Happ with his height, length, footwork, and ability to handle the ball for his size. Reuvers is a better and more willing shooter than Happ, however.
And finally, the third member of the trio who just committed on Monday evening, Brad Davison. Davison’s commitment came just four days after being offered by his home state Minnesota. The three-star point guard is athletic with outstanding court vision. His commitment comes at a crucial time with Koenig’s departure after the season. The Badgers have only one other true point guard on the current roster, freshman D’Mitrik Trice. The Badgers backcourt will be young, but at least it won’t lack any talent.
There are still plenty of five-star players who haven’t committed and will drop the Badgers’ ranking, but UW will still stay among the nation’s best.
The Badgers are unlikely to sign anybody else for the class of 2017, while they save scholarships for 2018’s talented in-state pool including Joey Hauser, Jordan McCabe, and Tyler Herro.
The Badgers are coming off of back to back Final Four run and a Sweet 16 berth, and now are bringing in their most loaded class in the history of the program.
The future is looking bright for Wisconsin men’s basketball.
All recruiting rankings are from 247sports.com. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.