Averaging 32.5 points per game and helping his Sheboygan Area falls team win its conference title for the first time in seven years, forward Sam Dekker is a major find, having registered 13 30-plus point games this season, set a new area scoring record at 58 points for a single game and has his team as one of the heavy favorites to win the WIAA Division 5 state championship later this month.
Dekker won't be the only freshman coming to Wisconsin, however, as the Badgers will be getting a huge boost after Germantown guard Zak Showalter decided to forego double-digit scholarship opportunities and accept a preferred walk-on at Wisconsin. Showalter is averaging 22 points per game for the Warhawks, who are the only undefeated team in Division 1 and, like Dekker's team, the heavy favorites to win the state championship in their division.
"I love Zak," said Dekker. "We've actually gotten really close. I think he's probably the best two guard I have seen in our state. To have four years with him and being my roommate, it' going to be a ton of fun."
With Wisconsin appearing to bank its remaining scholarship for 2013, the Badgers are looking at the following prospects to possibly fill the void (interest listed implies to the prospect's interest in Wisconsin):
The ‘A' List
Four-star guard Bronson Koenig (Aquinas HS, La Crosse, Wis.)
As Koenig let the offer sink in, however, the pros of playing for Wisconsin seemed to outweigh the positives North Carolina offered. Koenig never went back for another unofficial visit to Chapel Hill and consistently made the drive to Madison for Saturday football games.
The fact that Ryan and associate head coach Greg Gard put in a lot of time to watch Koenig was also a definite factor. Koenig estimated that at least one coach from Wisconsin was at every one of his games with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors over the past two seasons.
"It definitely influenced my decision," Koenig told Badger Nation. "They were my first big offer and they didn't miss an AAU game of mine in two years while they were recruiting me. That definitely says a lot, and showed how much they wanted me … I like being close to home and I love Madison."
A year after leading Aquinas to a 27-1 record and the WIAA Division 3 state championship as a sophomore when he averaged 17.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and nearly 3.0 assists per game, Koenig has missed most of the season because of wrist surgery. He has returned for the playoffs in hopes of helping his team defend its title.
Chance of staying committed: 99 percent.
Status: Offered Scholarship – Wisconsin Verbal, September 24, 2011
Three-star guard Matt Thomas (Onalaska HS, Onalaska, Wis.)
Although Thomas called the dialogued ‘on again, off again,' Wisconsin did come through with an offer at the end of January.
"It was definitely unexpected," Thomas told Badger Nation. "I didn't see it coming at all. It had been just once in awhile that I had talked to them and then Coach Ryan called. I don't know what happened that they decided to offer now, but I am definitely glad they did."
Northwestern and Virginia have also extended offers to Thomas, who visited UW unofficially for the Ohio State game, and says those schools along with Boston College, Creighton and Iowa State are recruiting him the hardest.
After originally saying Iowa State (where he visited for the Cyclones 74-72 upset over Kansas in late January) and Minnesota were his favorites (Thomas was in Minneapolis on Sunday for an unofficial visit) before the UW offer, it appears Thomas is now slightly favoring Wisconsin. He plans to start narrowing his decision following his season, as he has Onalaska 21-1, is averaging a team-best 20.5 points per game and his team is one of the favorites in Division 3.
Status: Offered Scholarship – Medium-high to high interest
Four-star forward Semi Ojeleye (Ottawa Senior HS, Ottawa, Ks.)
Although he hasn't visited Wisconsin since the summer, Ojeleye knows where UW ranks on his list.
"They definitely near the top of the list right now because of how hard they are recruiting me," said Ojeleye. "Coach Gard came down to practice last month and he's caught a few games. I see him quite a bit."
Ojeleye is not close to narrowing his list and has more visits planned over the summer, although it's not currently known if he is heading to Wisconsin. The one benefit playing in UW's favor is that Ojeleye hopes to become a civil engineer once his playing days are over. With UW having one of the best engineering schools in the country, UW has a good chance.
Status: Offered Scholarship – Medium to medium-high interest
Four-star center Kyle Washington (Hotchkiss HS, Lakeville, CT.)
"I haven't made a top five or cut anybody out, and I just have to make visits and talk it over with my family," said Washington.
Wisconsin offered him in June 2011 and has been recruiting him since his freshman year of high school. Washington has attended UW's elite camp and continues to have dialogue with the UW staff. The next test will be if UW can get him back on campus despite the massive amount of good offers he's received since UW first came into the picture.
Status: Offered Scholarship – Medium interest
The ‘B' List
Forward Ted Friedman (Ankeny HS, Ankeny, IA)
"It's a great atmosphere," Friedman told Badger Nation. "Everybody comes ready to go. It's packed, the fans are into it and it makes it exciting. The fans fill the whole arena – they basically do it every game – and the fans really get into the games."
Friedman has become a familiar face among the Wisconsin coaching staff over the last several years, as UW assistant coach Gary Close was one of the first recruiters on his doorstep. Having attended a football game each of the past two years (he took an unofficial visit this year for the Nebraska game) and UW's Elite Camp in June, Friedman also was scouted by UW at AAU events in Milwaukee and Kansas City.
"I have a pretty good relationship with him," Friedman said of Close. "Wisconsin contacted me a long time ago early in the process and we've kept in touch a lot. They watched me quite a bit during the summer. Coach Close and I chatted a little bit after the (Ohio State) game and just talked about my game and my season."
Friedman has already picked up offers Drake, Northern Iowa and St. Louis but has gotten high interest from multiple Big Ten schools and Missouri Valley Conference schools. Wisconsin's interest is Friedman is high simply because Friedman describes himself as a ‘system player,' meaning he can adapt to different styles with relative ease. If UW loses out on Washington and/or Ojeleye, the interest in Friedman would likely increase.
Status: No offered Scholarship – Medium to medium-high interest
Three-star forward Gavin Schilling (De La Salle HS, Chicago, Ill.)
"He's real down to earth," Schilling said of Paris. "He knows what he's talking about and I think he would help me out in a lot of different ways. Coach Paris says that they've been keeping track of me and that they like my game. Who knows what will happen."
Schilling has offers from DePaul, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon State, Providence and TCU, a scholarship list that could have been more impressive had he not broke his wrist over the summer – ruining his AAU season – and played basketball overseas in Germany. Schilling has been impressive averaging a double-double this season and could be in line for an offer should Washington and/or Ojeleye chose another school.
Status: No offered Scholarship – Medium to medium-high interest
Three-star forward Nick Fuller (Sun Prairie HS, Sun Prairie, Wis.)
Status: No offered Scholarship – Medium-high to high interest
Note: Although once recruiting both players, Wisconsin does not have much interest in four-star power forward Devin Williams (Cincinnati) or three-star power forward Alex Foster (Chicago) at this time.