Bawinkel Updates Recruiting Picture

Winnebago senior Devan Bawinkel had narrowed his list down to three schools – DePaul, Georgetown and West Virginia. That part was done.

He then moved on to planning visits to check out each campus and meet with the basketball coaches and players. He was in the works of finalizing that when the phone rang on Tuesday.

All of a sudden one of the tougher decisions he's had to make in life became harder. It was Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.

The Spartans had shown interest in Bawinkel, a 6-foot-5 guard, earlier in the recruiting process. He had even made an unofficial visit to the campus and Izzo had visited him at Winnebago. But Bawinkel hadn't heard from any of Michigan State's coaches in a while. He assumed they were no longer interested and counted them out of the picture.

Then, this.

Izzo said he hadn't called because he was gone on vacation. He also mentioned with Michigan State losing Ramar Smith, a top prep player from Michigan, to the University of Connecticut, the Spartans' recruiting situation had changed. Izzo let Bawinkel know he was still interested in recruiting him and invited Bawinkel out for an official visit.

The re-addition of Michigan State puts Bawinkel in a tough situation. DePaul, Georgetown and West Virginia have been after him the whole time. On the other hand, it is Michigan State, a constant NCAA Tournament contender, and a school he enjoyed on his visit.

"They're definitely a winning program with a winning history," said Bawinkel, who averaged 20.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists as a junior. "I loved the campus. I loved the coaches. I loved everything."

Bawinkel expects to be in contact with the Spartans in the upcoming weeks to see if they're truly interested in offering a scholarship like the other three schools. For now, he's going ahead with his other visits. On Saturday, he and his parents will unofficially visit DePaul. On September 17, he will travel to West Virginia for an official visit. Sometime soon, he also plans to make an official visit to Georgetown.

Coincidentally, all three of the schools compete in the Big East Conference. It wasn't set up that way, but Bawinkel does hold a high regard for the conference.

"To me, the Big East is the best conference in the nation," he said. "They're loaded. I think it's better than the ACC. My friends argue that."

One person who could affect Bawinkel's decision is his Illinois Wolves' AAU teammate Will Walker. The Bolingbrook senior guard has trimmed his list to DePaul and Michigan. Bawinkel and Walker roomed together on a number of their national AAU trips and have developed a solid chemistry on the floor.

"If he were to go to DePaul, it would have a big impact on me going there," Bawinkel said. "It's always fun to play with him. On the court, we always know where the other is."

Whatever school Bawinkel picks, he'd like to commit before the high school season begins in November. He'd like for the decision to be out of the way, so he and the Indians can concentrate on making their third consecutive state tournament appearance. The past two seasons Winnebago lost in the championship.

With Bawinkel and Wes Reinke returning and after a successful summer, which included winning Northern Illinois' team camp, Winnebago is expected to be among the top Class A teams in the state again.

"I don't see anyone in the area beating us," Bawinkel said. "Going into the season, I think we have good shot of making it to state again."

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