Badgers Surprise Rakocevic

Getting a chance to evaluate Westchester (IL) St. Joseph center Nick Rakocevic in person, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan and assistant coach Gary Close saw enough of the sophomore to offer him a scholarship Friday.

Choosing to do a little bit of scouting before heading off to Lincoln for Wisconsin's regular-season finale at Nebraska, Badgers coach Bo Ryan and assistant coach Gary Close wanted to get another look at Westchester (IL) St. Joseph sophomore center Nick Rakocevic compete in the Illinois State playoffs Friday night.

With the Rakocevic aware of the VIP in attendance, the 6-9 forward registered 18 points, 12 rebounds, a win for his team and a Wisconsin scholarship offer.

"I knew Coach Ryan would be in our gym, and I wanted to have a good performance for him," Rakocevic told BadgerNation. "I wanted him to know that he made the right decision recruiting me. I didn't think I was going to get an offer tonight, and I really wasn't planning on it, but it happened. I am truly, grateful and blessed."

Rakocevic has been on the Badgers' radar since December and has been scouted in person by Close and assistant coach Lamont Paris. He took an unofficial visit to Madison in early February when Wisconsin beat Michigan State.

"I appreciate Coach Close, who has been recruiting me for the past few months now," said Rakocevic. "It's been really great with Wisconsin so far."

Rakocevic found about the offer from his high school coach, and feels that what he does on the court fits with the Wisconsin philosophy.

"I think I played their type of basketball for big men. I think they have big guys who can bring the ball down the floor, take guys off the dribble, shoot a little bit and play defense. I did that today. I also had quite a few offensive rebounds, so I think I did a pretty good.

"(Wisconsin) likes a big guy who can do more than posting up, and I feel that's the player I am trying to become. I want to be more than a guy who just gets offensive rebounds and puts them back up. I am trying to be more of a three or a stretch four, and they have guys like that. Sam Dekker and Jon Leuer, who is in the NBA right now, are guys who I build my game around." Wisconsin joins Creighton, Illinois, Miami (FL) and Northern Illinois as early offers for Rakocevic, who has been scouted by Northwestern and is fielding interest from many other schools. Listing no early favorites, Rakocevic plans to visit Indiana and Iowa in the spring before starting the AAU season.

"It's been phenomenal," said Rakocevic. "I can just thank so many people; my coaches, my teammates, my family and GOD. It's just been an amazing run so far. I have AAU with the Mac Irwin Fire coming up in the spring and the summer, and that's going to get me a lot of exposure playing in one of the best programs in the nation. I'm going to have a great opportunity to play n front of big time schools, and I have to make sure I can show I can play at a big-time level."

The Badgers are expected to have two scholarships available in the 2016 recruiting class.

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