Ferris Accepts Wisconsin Walk-On

The night before Wisconsin walloped American in its NCAA tournament opener, the Badgers received a preferred walk-on commitment from Appleton Xavier 6-5 swingman Matt Ferris.

Appleton Xavier two-sport athlete Matt Ferris rewrote the record books during a senior football season in which he was named the Associated Press' 2013 Wisconsin high school player of the year.

But the 6-5, 190-pound athlete loved playing basketball even more, growing up around the game and cheering for the University of Wisconsin.

"Wisconsin was my team growing up," Ferris told BadgerNation. "Neither of my parents went to Madison, but it's the school I always cheered for. I went to a couple games and going to Madison is just a great time. Football games or basketball games, it was my dream as a little kid. For it to come true like this is unbelievable."

So when the Badgers offered him a preferred walk-on opportunity, Ferris knew in his heart where he wanted to go. Making his decision Wednesday night, the swingman joins Taylor Ridge (IL) Rockridge forward Ethan Happ as the only two players set to enroll this summer.

The recruiting process between Wisconsin and Ferris happened quickly. According to Ferris, Wisconsin associate head coach Greg Gard heard that he was interested in being a part of the Badgers program. With UW having room on its roster to add some walk-ons, Gard attended Ferris' playoff game on March 1.

"I didn't know he was there until after when my coach told me," said Ferris. "I sent (Gard) an email and thanked him for coming. He told me to give him a call and he invited to their game against Purdue. After the game he told me the invitation was there to walk on. I was extremely excited."

Ferris threw for 3,949 yards and 50 touchdowns, both state records. He threw for a state-record eight touchdowns in a 64-14 victory against Ripon, and averaged 304 passing yards per game for a team that came within one game of making the WIAA Division 3 state finals.

Despite the resume, Ferris only received a football scholarship offer from William Jewell College, a division 2 school in Missouri. Ferris visited that campus and was considering the opportunity. After his basketball offer came, Ferris debated for two weeks before deciding.

"I like the school, but when the Wisconsin preferred walk-on came it was a dream of mine," said Ferris. "I talked with my parents, with my family and with some of my coaches to get their opinion on it, but it's an opportunity I couldn't pass up to be a Badger."

With the decision made, Ferris called Gard Wednesday night before his future school started its NCAA tournament run.

"I just told them that if the offer is still there that I'd gladly accept it," said Gard. "He was excited, and it was nice to see them take care of business today."

Ferris led Xavier to an 18-5 record and an appearance in the WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal. Named the Eastern Valley Conference player of the year after leading Xavier to a league title, Ferris made four 3-pointers and scored a team-high 17 points in his final prep game with Gard watching in the stands.

"We actually fell down in that game pretty badly, probably by about 20 points," said Ferris. "I hit a couple shots to get us back in the game. We didn't win the game, but (Gard) said he liked how I rallied the team and my leadership on the court. That's really what caught his eye."

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