A year later, a month away

Jason Bohannon's high school graduation is fast approaching, and his University of Wisconsin basketball career is right around the corner

The move Jason Bohannon will soon make has been a long time coming. The senior from Marion, Iowa, will graduate later this month from Linn-Mar High School, then begin preparing in earnest for his arrival in Madison, Wis., and his rendezvous with the University of Wisconsin men's basketball program.

Bohannon plans to arrive in Madison on or around June 10. He will begin taking summer classes at UW the following week and will start working out with his new Badger teammates.

In a recent telephone interview, Bohannon said he was looking forward to "just getting up there and being with the players. And finally getting up there, having made my decision about a year ago, it is something I've really been looking forward to and it is something that should be really fun."

UW offered Bohannon a scholarship between his freshman and sophomore years at Linn-Mar, before the now 6-foot-2, 185-pound combo guard had even played a game of varsity basketball. Bohannon drew plenty of additional interest — including scholarship offers from Iowa and Stanford — while starring at Linn-Mar the next two years.

He helped lead Linn-Mar to its second state championship as a sophomore in 2004, averaging 16.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Bohannon scored 24 points in the title game. A year later, Linn-Mar placed second in the state, while Bohannon was named all-state for the second straight year, averaging 20.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2.8 steals per game.

According to Bohannon, Linn-Mar was predicted to finish in the bottom half of its conference this year, but the Lions overcame expectations, finishing 23-4 and reaching the state semifinals. In three years with Bohannon, Linn-Mar won 71 games and lost just nine.

"We exceeded a lot of expectations," Bohannon said. "We lost most of our team from the year before… And to go 23-4, finish up the season like we did and get fourth in the state is something you can't really be ashamed of at all."

In fact, Linn-Mar and Bohannon had plenty to be proud of.

"We surprised a lot of other people," Bohannon said. "Our team always believed that we could do the things we did, but a lot of other people didn't. So it was something that we were really pleased with."

After posting 27 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game as a senior, Bohannon was named Mr. Basketball in the state of Iowa. According to the Omaha World-Herald, Bohannon made 89 3-pointers and shot 56 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line during the 2005-06 season.

"That's really exciting," Bohannon said of the award. "It's a great award to have but a big part of it is due to the team that we've had. This past year and the past two years. Teamwork and just getting to state three times in a row and to the state championship two times in a row. It's just an award that really reflects the teamwork we've had throughout the last few years."

Asked if he was surprised at all by his individual accomplishments, Bohannon again deferred to the team.

"As I said, it kind of all goes back to the team," he said. "I just tried to do whatever it took to win. Going 23-4 is just a great accomplishment and it is just a great team accomplishment."

Bohannon is Scout.com's No. 42 overall player in the class of 2006, and No. 8 point guard prospect. He emerged as an elite recruit after a stellar AAU campaign last spring and summer. He carried that momentum into his senior season and continued to improve his all-around game.

"Probably strength was the biggest (area of improvement)," Bohannon said. "… Going into the summer last year I was probably about 170 (pounds). By the end of summer I was probably about 185. So I gained a lot of weight from lifting and it's something I really worked on.

"And also just getting more mature as a player. Just overall game. And defensive side of the ball also."

On May 10, 2005, Bohannon held a press conference at Linn-Mar to announce that he had verbally committed to UW, choosing the Badgers over Stanford and Iowa. Thirteen months later, he will be in Madison preparing for his freshman year with the Badgers.

"As I look back on it, it seems like a long time," Bohannon said. "But senior year really goes by fast, so it actually doesn't seem like as long ago as it should have."

Bohannon is one-third of a highly regarded incoming recruiting class for the Badgers, joining guard Trevon Hughes (St. John's Military Academy in Delafield, Wis.) and center J.P. Gavinski of Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

Bohannon could play the ‘1' or the ‘2' at Wisconsin, while Hughes is considered a natural point guard.

"Whatever it takes to get on the floor," Bohannon said when asked which position he expects to play. "I really don't mind. Either one. I just like playing the guard position. So either one and whichever one is available."

Bohannon and Hughes could dramatically bolster the Badgers' backcourt depth and either or both could end up playing a significant role for UW in the 2006-07 season.

"(To) get a chance to pay with Kammron (Taylor) and Michael Flowers, and all the guards they already have there, and then also Trevon, who is a great player, it will be something really special and hopefully it's something we can build on and continue to get better with," Bohannon said.

Bohannon has taken notice of the very early prognostications floating around from a variety of sources, which have UW pegged as a top 15 team or better heading into '06-07.

"It's something that you are excited about," he said. "Hopefully we'll have a great year. We have a great group of people coming back… So hopefully the year goes as some are predicting it to."

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