The Right Pieces to the Puzzle

Wisconsin's recruiting class gets off under looked, but the Badgers keep on winning under Head Coach Bo Ryan. Therefore, it's fun to imagine what the Badgers can do after Ryan inked four players Wednesday that are his highest-ranking class, and possibly the best, yet.

MADISON – It's common knowledge that Wisconsin men's basketball coach Bo Ryan likes to needle the media when it comes to talking about his players' athletic ability, primary about the younger players he's recruited. Since his recruiting classes are never ranked nationally, as Ryan likes to say, he obviously isn't bringing in great players.

After 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and a 107-43 (.713) Big Ten record, tops in the conference, during Ryan's tenure, the tenth-year head coach doesn't need approval for bringing in the smart blue-collared players that fit in his system.

"I'll take these four guys against anybody," Ryan said after No.24 Wisconsin closed out its exhibition schedule with a 93-59 victory over Division II Minnesota State. "It's in their blood these four guys. I really like these guys. They are good parts to a team puzzle."

Wisconsin's class wasn't ranked as a top 25 class, but the Badgers' four-member class was far from uninspiring. Ranked fourth in the Big Ten by, Wisconsin grabbed three three-star players – Westerville (Ohio) shooting guard Traevon Jackson, Lisle (Ill) center Frank Kaminsky and Chicago point guard George Marshall – and four-star center Jarrod Uthoff, considered the top player in the class.

"Of the guys headed to campus, Uthoff is the most impressive," said Evan Daniels, National Recruiting Analyst for "He's a versatile forward that moves fluidly, has a great set of hands and a nice overall skill set. Once Uthoff adds weight and strength to his frame, he'll be able to have a much greater impact on the game. He has a chance to be a pretty impressive Big Ten player."

A 6-foot-8, 200-pound combo forward out of Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Thomas Jefferson, Uthoff averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds his junior season. Throw in that he was a 4.0 student and the junior class president, Uthoff picking the Badgers over Iowa, Iowa State, Illinois, Butler, Virginia and Northwestern was a perfect match.

"I think their style of play really fits me," said Uthoff, who ranks No.18 in the country at his position. "I like the swing offense, being able to play inside or outside. That was a big factor for me … I just think the style of play fits me well at Wisconsin."

Uthoff was the last of the group to verbally commit, the icing on the cake of a recruiting class that already gave the UW coaches everything it wanted.

Jackson, son of former Ohio State star and current Big Ten Network Analyst Jim Jackson, was a target for UW associate coach Greg Gard since early 2009 because of his reputation as a dynamic shooting guard with accuracy from the perimeter and being a solid defender with tenacious work ethic.

"Coach Ryan is a great coach, he has a great record to back his status up and he loves his players a lot," said Jackson, who averaged 19 points per game his junior year. "People look at his players as freshman and by the time they leave, they are great players. That's one thing that attracts me to his program is the way he treats his players."

Kaminsky is the son of a former player and college and high school coach and does a little bit of everything for Benet Academy, averaging 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots during his junior season. He is the typical Wisconsin player, a ‘big' who likes to battle in the paint for loose balls and can step out to make a three-point jumper.

"(My coaches) felt that the swing offense would be a good fit for my game," said Kaminsky, ranked the 20th-best center in the country. "That's why I think Wisconsin started recruiting me so early because they felt I could succeed in its offense. That was really important for me in choosing a school."

The 6-foot Marshall has been compared to Wisconsin junior point guard Jordan Taylor at his age, only scouts say Marshall is a better shooter with a longer wingspan. Attending Brooks Academy, a selective admissions high school that requires stringent academic requirements, Marshall earned 2010 honorable mention All-City and All-Area honor after averaged 17 points.

"I felt it was a good balance of academics and basketball, they will help me achieve my goals at the next level," Marshall said. "Coach Ryan is a great coach and I will be able to reach my full potential under him. They have a very exciting environment, it's a basketball school and I just felt that I couldn't go wrong."

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