Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy small forward Aleem Ford is still in awe about his opportunity to play for Wisconsin

The surprise commitment of Wisconsin's 2016 recruiting class, small forward Aleem Ford is still humbled by the opportunity to play college basketball at the University of Wisconsin.

Knowing he was going to take an official visit to the University of Wisconsin with good friend and teammate D’Mitrik Trice, Aleem Ford’s mood couldn’t quite be described as joyous.

The Georgia native had played the previous season with Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy in an effort to improve his recruiting stock but had only nabbed offers from Hofstra, Richmond, Rutgers and a few others.

And knowing his friend would likely commit to the Badgers, Ford was incredibly anxious heading to Madison.

“A week before my visit to Wisconsin I was nervous,” Ford told BadgerNation. “I wanted an offer really bad, and I honestly didn't think I was gonna get one.”

Lucky for him, the dominoes fell his way. Getting a scholarship offer from head coach Greg Gard on Thursday night, Ford didn’t wait long to join Trice in Wisconsin’s 2016 recruiting class.

“I stuck in there and soon enough it happened,” Ford said. “I was speechless. I thanked God and was so excited for the opportunity. After they offered, I knew I was all in at Wisconsin, and my visit only reassured that.”

The 6-7, 180-pound Ford was a late bloomer, not getting any tangible interest as a high school senior. Feeling he had the potential to play at a high major college, Ford made the decision to spent the 2015-16 at IMG Academy to chase his dream.

“I always wanted something bigger and wanted to be in a power five conference,” he said. “I know my talents and I know I'm a power five type player. Wisconsin not only fits that description, but they blew me away on my visit. Both me and D'Mitrik loved the coaches, campus and all current players.”

Much like Trice, Ford felt an immediate connection to the coaching staff, the team’s players, the campus and the facilities at Wisconsin shortly after arriving on campus.

“I don't really get home sick, and me going to IMG, I've got use to not being at home, but I do want to be somewhere that is comfortable and feels at home,” he said. “Wisconsin feels that way. No other school is as tight as Wisconsin is. The players, campus, students and coaches all have great bonds and it's a family there. (It’s) something no other schools had, at least nothing like Wisconsin's. It also helps knowing my best friend committed with me also."

The original plan for Wisconsin was to bank a scholarship and use it during the 2017 or 2018 recruiting cycle, but Gard mentioned his excitement to keep a solid combination together.

“Coach Gard said he is so excited for me and D'Mitrik to get on campus and start developing,” Trice said. “He loves how we committed together and thank(ed) us both for choosing Wisconsin.”

Saying he bases his game off his size, speed and athletic ability, Ford hopes he makes a big enough impression to be a contributor in the fall to a Wisconsin team loaded with talent.

“I know I have top level speed for my position and can out play my opponents with my size and athletic ability, one reason I feel I'm underrated." Ford said. “I hope to improve in the offseason. I'm playing summer ball and hopefully that helps me develop. My goal is to play freshman year and make an impact.” 

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