According to Brian Richert, Hughes' coach at St. John's Military Academy in Delafield, Wis., the star point guard came away comforted by and impressed with his five-hour unofficial visit to Madison.
"It's a major decision in his life," Richert said in a telephone interview. "[Academics] was the main thing and I thought it went very well. There's no doubt about it."
But while basketball played second fiddle during last Wednesday's visit to UW, it surely was not forgotten, especially when the conversation turned to Hughes' scholarship offer. Having already received two verbal commitments for the class of 2006, the Badgers have one offer available and both Hughes and Wauwatosa (Wis.) East guard Jerry Smith—a pair of nationally ranked top 50 prospects—have UW among their finalists.
The message from UW head coach Bo Ryan, Richert said, "was definitely, definitely to Trevon that they want Trevon… Bo just looked at him and said, ‘You're my man.' They asked Trevon right then and there if he'd accept it."
Hughes, however, wants to uphold a promise he made to Iowa's coaching staff that he would attend their elite camp June 4-5 before making a final decision.
"He said, ‘Coach (Richert), you always told me to honor everything that I say and to be truthful and be honest,'" Richert said. "And I told these Iowa coaches I am going to be there and I am going to be there."
Hughes will try to duplicate the nature of his recent UW visit June 3 in Iowa City, when he takes an academics-focused unofficial visit to Iowa, preceding his participation in the Hawkeyes' elite camp.
"We figured, you know what, before you commit to either school you've got to see both," Richert said. "He always said, ‘Coach, I don't want any doubt. Because if I sign with Wisconsin I'm sitting in class one day, I'm bored out of my mind and I'm not having a good day. Maybe my mind is going to say, ‘I wonder what Iowa would be like?'' He just doesn't want any of those doubts.
"He wants it to be if he is going to commit to Wisconsin, he wants the fans, he wants the coaches and his teammates to know he is there 100 percent and he is going to give everything he's got to that university and there is no doubt in his mind he's a Badger."
Hughes, the No. 8 point guard and No. 47 overall player nationally in the latest Scout.com rankings for the class of 2006, has taken about 10 unofficial visits to UW and about five to UI, Richert said. But those were basketball-focused trips.
"It was more of when Trevon went on his (previous) unofficial visits it was all basketball," Richert said. "He never really had the chance to walk around campus, see campus life and just witness all that. Like he said, ‘If I'm going to spend four years of my life here I want to make sure what I see and if I like it before I make a commitment.'"
As Richert explained it, Hughes' visit, beginning at 3:30 p.m. and wrapping up around 8:30 p.m., covered a number of bases:
- Hughes met with the dean of the undergraduate business school and discussed how to prepare for that degree program at the UW. "We talked a little bit about what it takes to become a student there and what it takes to graduate in that field," Richert said.
- He toured the Fetzer Center, the student-athletic academic resource building, and met with an advisor there.
- While talking to UW's coaches, Hughes said that he was intent on eventually earning a master's degree. "Like one of the coaches said, ‘You don't see a lot of athletes walking through here with the talent as Trevon and ask about a master's degree,'" Richert said. "But Trevon was very serious about it."
- Hughes also asked for the assurance that if he ever suffered a career-ending injury that his scholarship would still be there. "That was answered very positively," Richert said.
- While most of the trip was spent talking to academic personnel and UW basketball coaches, Hughes also met with athletics director and head football coach Barry Alvarez. "They talked about the history of Wisconsin and what it means to Coach Alvarez," Richert said, "and how much he (Alvarez) admires Coach Ryan and how much respect they have for each other. And how as the athletic director people think that this is a football school, but how he's putting a lot of emphasis on basketball. I thought that was a good conversation."
- "(We) went from there back to the Kohl Center," Richert said. "He talked with the strength and conditioning coach because Trevon's very much into his body and shaping his body right now and really getting it strong. And he wanted to touch base about how their athletes do it and how often they do it and what they do."
- The scholarship discussion came toward the end of the day, part of an hour-and-a-half Hughes spent talking to Ryan. During that time, Hughes was shown a highlight tape of former UW star and current Dallas Mavericks guard Devin Harris.
"That was one concern to Trevon," Richert said. "‘How is a New York-style point guard going to fit in to a Bo Ryan system? That was something that Trevon really thought about. I said, ‘Well, the only way we are going to find out is ask.'"
So when Richert called UW to set up Wednesday's visit, he asked the Badgers' coaching staff to compile the Harris highlight reel.
"And they did a good job," Richert said. "They put a lot of footage together for him to answer any doubts in his mind that Devin didn't just walk the ball up and [the Badgers] scored 40, 50 a night and they won ugly. It was Devin took the ball and was the quarterback and did whatever Devin felt he had to do. I think that set good in the eyes of Trevon."
Hughes is acutely aware of recent events that affected the scholarship situation at UW. Combo guard Jason Bohannon announced his commitment to the Badgers at a press conference at Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Iowa a week ago. According to Scout.com, Bohannon is the No. 9 point guard and No. 57 overall prospect in the nation. J.P. Gavinski, of Wisconsin Dells (Wis.) High School, who committed to UW last summer, is the No. 9 center and is No. 52 overall.
Smith (No. 10 shooting guard, No. 42 overall), was reportedly close to holding a press conference and committing to UW last Wednesday. However, that plan was dropped because Smith needed more time to consider his options. Smith's father, Jerry Smith Sr., recently told InsideTheVille.com, Scout.com's publication that covers Louisville, that Smith will make official visits to Louisville (May 20-21) and Tennessee (June 3-4), with Connecticut, Iowa and Texas A&M possibilities for Smith's final official trip. Smith has previously taken officials to Wake Forest and Wisconsin.
Hughes, Richert said in a previous interview, is more concerned with making his decision than beating Smith to the punch. And in order to make an informed choice, he feels he needs to visit Iowa at the beginning of June.
"I said, ‘There comes a time where if you make a decision, if Wisconsin is where you want to be Trevon, there's ways we can approach this professionally,'" Richert said. "It's not that you lied to Iowa or anything. It's just that the process is over.
"He assured me he wants to do this. He wants to clear any doubt there is he's got it clear in his mind so everyone can understand he is now a Hawkeye or a Badger or wherever. He wants to be there 100 percent."