MADISON - On weekends where coaching staffs try to get most of their commits to take their official visits, there’s usually a fair amount of meet and greet with one another during an early feeling out process. That’s not the case with Wisconsin basketball’s 2017 class.
With La Crosse (WI) Central shooting guard Kobe King, Maple Grove (MN) combo guard Brad Davison and Lakeville (MN) North power forward Nathan Reuvers all taking their official visits together, and having developed a great bond prior to arriving, the weekend was all about having a great time.
“It’s just like we’re hanging out again,” Reuvers said. “It’s a lot of fun because I love being with those guys.”
From start to finish, Wisconsin’s basketball visitors had a busy Saturday. The group had breakfast in the morning before attending the team’s basketball practice in the afternoon, a part that Davison said was his favorite part.
“To see Coach Gard interact with his players and the other coaches interact with the players, I really like how they competed,” Davison said. “My favorite thing about Coach Gard is that he’s always honest, straightforward and tells you how it is. He’s been that way all the way through the recruiting process.
“Right now they are focusing on the basics, the fundamentals and doing those little things that will set them apart this year and make it a big year for them. They’ll be fun to watch.”
The longest tenured commit of the three, King couldn’t pick out any major changes in a practice run by Gard than the ones run by former head coach Bo Ryan, who he committed to last September.
“I can’t tell that much of a difference,” King said. “They do a lot of the same things, but Coach Gard feels more comfortable playing young players and has trust in them. That’s the only main difference I see.”
While the trio has already had a chance to become familiar with the coaching staff, Reuvers said meeting with academic advisers and strength and conditioning coach Erik Helland was a big deal for him. Hoping to play early in his career, Reuvers wanted to make sure he was prepared for the transition to college and got answers he was looking for.
“I want to see what I could do to make sure everything would go OK when I got to Wisconsin and I can set myself up to play right away,” he said. “I’m doing the right things right now. I have no idea what they will think when I get there, but either way I’m optimistic about it. If I redshirt there’s no downside to it because it’s a year to get better.”
Before attending the Wisconsin-Ohio State football game that night, the staff had a cookout with the players and the recruits, filed with plenty of food and a lot of lawn games.
“It was a lot of fun and a great time to spend with some of the players; (UW 2018 commit) Tyler Herro and I were the bean bag champions of the cookout,” Davison boasted. “You can ask around. We won.”
King begs to differ.
“We beat them once,” King said. “Don’t let him fool you. We were 1-1 against them.”
All three said the football game was icing on the cake. Davison embraced the atmosphere, King loved getting a chance to interact with the other recruits and Reuvers loved seeing two top-10 teams battle it out for four quarters and an overtime.
“I’m a big college football fan, so it definitely was a fun game,” Reuvers said. “I was standing up for a lot of it. The thing that stood out that after the kickoff and Ohio State was on offense, that place was rocking on a first-and-10 like it was a third down. It was really cool. It was like that the whole game. I haven’t had that much fun at a college football game in a while.”
While the recruits were already comfortable with each other, a nice aspect of the weekend was building friendships with players currently on the roster. King said he spent a lot of time with redshirt freshman guard Brevin Pritzl, a former AAU teammate, and got to meet sophomores Alex Illikainen, Khalil Iverson, Charlie Thomas and many others.
“We got closer with all the guys this weekend, especially the ones that are on the team and going to be our teammates,” King said. “I know we all enjoyed it this weekend.”
Wisconsin’s three member class could go down as one of the school’s best ever ranking wise. At one point all three were four-star recruits and the class stood top 10 nationally. Reuvers and Davison currently rank in the top 100, 68 and 94, respectively, and the trio check in at No.17 in the country by Scout.com.
King didn’t put up eye popping stats over the summer and ended up being downgraded to a three-star prospect. The slight didn’t bother him since his goal this summer was to be a better facilitator and have fun, knowing the recruiting pressure was behind him.
“My summer was mostly just enjoying being with the AAU teammates since I’ve been with sixth grade,” King said. “Summer for me wasn’t really about scoring. I mean, there were games where I really didn’t even play that much. It was spending time with the guys and making sure they have a chance to get noticed, too.”
After signing their national letters of intent next month, all three will begin quests for state championships, titles King fell two games short of last season and Reuvers just one half short. They are hopeful that once they convene on campus, the off-the-court chemistry will carry over.
“We all know each other really well and are really excited to have the opportunity to play together,” Davison said. “We’ve never played together. That’s something I’m definitely looking forward to.”