Finke Pulls in Badgers Offer

If anyone questions how important the July evaluation period is for high school basketball players, Champaign (Ill.) Centennial junior forward Michael Finke can vouch for its importance. Impressing the UW coaching staff with his abilities, Finke played his way to a Badgers scholarship offer Wednesday.

MADISON - After the spring evaluation period, Champaign (Ill.) Centennial junior forward Michael Finke only had an offer from South Dakota State and was, for all intensive purposes, off the radar.

It's amazing what can happen after playing solid basketball for a month.

After having no contact with the Wisconsin staff before playing in the UA Summer Jam in Mequon in mid July, Finke's performance led to a phone call from assistant coach Gary Close, a scheduled unofficial visit to see the UW campus and his first BCS scholarship offer (and ninth overall) from the Badgers Wednesday.

"It's my first high major offer and it's awesome," Finke told Badger Nation. "I love it."

Taking in his first visit to the Wisconsin campus, the 6-9, 200-pound Finke got a campus tour, a facilities tour and understood why so many athletes fall in love with the campus the minute they first step foot on it.

"The arena was impressive, and they are putting in a new weight room and locker room, which is pretty awesome," said Finke. "All the coaches were so nice and grateful, and I know that they are there for me … Coach Close and I have a pretty good relationship so far. We had good time when I was up there, talking and joking around."

According his Finke, his biggest jump since the spring evaluation period has been his foot speed and lateral movement, improvements he said was his main focus of his workouts. His Peoria Irish AAU coach, Gavin Sullivan, couldn't agree more.

"He's always been kind of a taller kid, coming in as a freshman around 6-4 or 6-5, and was really long, but he got measured just over 6-9 in July," said Sullivan. "He's grown a lot the last year. He's growing into his body and playing catch up. He had a good spring and really blossomed in May and June and really took off in July.

"He fits Wisconsin perfectly. He's a big, tall, long, white kid that has a lot of skill. He can pick and pop, can post up, can put it on the floor a little bit and has good size for his age. He needs to add some weight, but he has the chance to be pretty good. He has a high basketball IQ and can evolve into something special."

In his first year on the varsity level, Finke averaged roughly 13 points and seven rebounds as a sophomore, earning an honorable mention all-conference selection.

"I really didn't have any expectations," said Finke.

Now that he's a Division 1 recruit, his expectations are drastically different.

"I would like to average 20 points and 10 rebounds, getting a double-double each game," said Finke. "I want to make my team win every day and make everyone else around me better."

In addition to UW and South Dakota State, Finke has offers from Green Bay, Illinois-Chicago, Eastern Illinois, Loyola, North Dakota State, Nebraska-Omaha and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Once UW coach Bo Ryan pulled him aside to extend the offer, he was tempted to end his recruitment immediately.

"Of course, but I want to see what else happens," said Finke. "I am just taking it all in right now, seeing what else is out there."

Finke said upwards of a dozen schools have asked him to visit and said Iowa has been showing me a lot of interest.

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