The Man In The Middle

Bo Ryan and his staff raided the state of Minnesota this year and gained the verbal commitments of two highly regarded prospects. One of those prospects is 6-10 center Jared Berggren from Princeton. Badger Nation caught up with Princeton coach, Eric Bjurman for a short Q&A.

Coach Bjurman, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule today to talk with us. First off, what can you tell the Badger fans about Jared Berggren.

"We started to hear about Jared when he was in grade school. He started to grow when he was a freshman and he was moved up to the varsity as a sophomore. Jared led our team in blocks as a sophomore but he still had a lot of work to do."

Can you go into details on what Jared needed work on and when he became a major D-1 recruit?

"Jared kind of surprised people as a sophomore but things got tougher for him as a junior. They wouldn't attack him like they would when he was a sophomore because they knew he could block shots. Jared needed to work on his footwork, his passing, his shooting and just becoming a better all-around player.

Have you seen the transition in Jared that you had hoped for? Did he turn the corner and become a better all-around basketball player?

"Oh definitely, Jared got really good at making the high post passes. He made huge strides from his sophomore to his junior season. Now he can block shots and pass. I don't think we've even scratched the surface of Jared's game yet which is good for Wisconsin.

"I feel that Jared Berggren is going to thrive in Wisconsin's swing offense. He comes to play every day. Jared can now block shots, pass, he sees the court extremely well and he's added a nice shot to his arsenal. You don't want to leave Jared alone from 3-point range because he'll nail that shot."

Again coach, can you tell us when things started to hit full stride for Jared as far as recruiting is concerned?

"Jared started playing AAU ball with a team called "Howard Pulley", they are considered one of the top AAU teams in the Midwest. A lot of coaches started to see Jared at AAU events. Most of the Big Ten and Big 12 schools were on Jared hard as well as Stanford and Arizona State.

"In the end, Wisconsin, Iowa State, Purdue, Miami (Fla.) and Minnesota were the final schools standing. Greg Gard did an awesome job of recruiting Jared. Wisconsin was the first school to offer. Bo (Ryan) wanted to offer right away, he did, and the rest is history.

"Jared is very happy with his decision to attend Wisconsin. Madison is only five hours away from his home and his family will be able to watch him play. Jared also felt that Wisconsin will make him a better player."

For all you Badger hoops fans, mark your calendars. You'll be able to get a look at Jared Berggren up close on January 26, 2008 at the 2nd Annual Border Battle which will be held at Verona Area High School, in Verona, Wisconsin.

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