Kevin Hartwig: We knew about a month ago that he had a good shot at getting a scholarship. We were excited to get it. It was a little bit of a surprise on our end. Ryan is definitely a kid with a lot of upside with a lot of potential. He is still growing into his 6-foot-6 body and his strengths are going to come as he lifts and works out. That will be a key for him.
He was a key for us this year. He averaged 18, 19 points per game and seven rebounds. He was just a tough matchup. We were able to do a lot of things with Ryan this year because of his size and his length. If they put a bigger kid on him, he could handle the ball really well and shoot the three ball really well. If they put a guard or somebody smaller on him, he has the ability to go inside. His inside game got a lot better as the season progressed and I can see him being a wing player for Wisconsin.
BN: When Wisconsin came and looked at him and from talking to the coaches, what did they come away really impressed with? You mentioned a lot of good things but was there one more than the other?
Hartwig: Well, I just think talking with Coach Ryan and the tapes we sent them, I think they liked his versatility because he can go inside or out, handles the ball well and, I'd say, above average for a kid his size. He runs the floor really well and he's got pretty good jumping ability. I just think it was that versatility that they were intrigued by and I think he's a kid that he understand he has to get bigger. I think they understand that to for him to play in the Big Ten. I don't think there's a rush or any pressure for Ryan to step in right away and contribute.
BN: You talk about his upside. When do you think Wisconsin fans will start to see him contribute? You think that it will be a year or two when he puts on some more weight or does he have the ability to play right now?
Hartwig: It's hard for me to project because I am not as familiar with who they have coming back, but I would say within a year. Use a good redshirt year to get him stronger and again, I don't know what there needs are if they need him right away. I think Ryan understands that he can get a lot bigger and stronger and that will really give him the confidence to really be successful at Wisconsin.
BN: Is there a college player that comes to mind that you can compare him to that Wisconsin fans will have a better understanding of the kind of game he plays?
Hartwig: Man, I can't think of one right off hand. I know Wisconsin has some players like him, a versatile kid that will work extremely hard at his game. That ability to go inside and out and in our defensive scheme, we switched him out on defense and a lot of times he got switched off onto a point guard with very good quickness. With Ryan's length, when he got down, he could defend some guards. That versatility makes him hard to compare him to players.
BN: Is he the first basketball player to be recruited by a major division one school?
Hartwig: In basketball, most definitely. He is the first one. We are 10 years in existence and we are considered a football school. Actually, we are a football school, had some kids go major division one in football, and we've had some kids play basketball elsewhere but nothing like this. He is the first one and a special one.
BN: How has the school reaction been?
Hartwig: Today is the first day we really put it out there. We kind of held off until we gave official notification of the coaches. We are all excited and people think of the Big Ten as physical, power basketball. Ryan has that ability to put some bulk and some size on him but he's more, right now, as a finesse player. There's that question is he can play at that level but it's definitely there.
BN: Lastly, talk about his work ethic. How hard has he worked for you and for Wisconsin, how hard will he work to get ready to play for the Badgers?
Hartwig: He's got a great work ethic. As soon as he gets in the weight room, he's going to put that weight on. He tells me everyday, ‘Coach, I just can't get that weight.' It's going to come. It's just a matter of time and he's very mature. Once he gets that, he's always confident shooting the basketball, but his confidence will grow tenfold.
He's a gym rat. If he goes there and works like he has, he'll have success. We're excited for him and appreciate they gave him the opportunity there at Wisconsin. He has worked very hard and he's earned it.