Impressed with Wilson's ability to hit the mid-range jump shot, be a team player within the offense and a defensive catalyst, Ryan and his staff saw a lot of potential in Wilson; recruited the 6-foot-4 guard hard for his sophomore and junior years of high school.
Wilson signed on to Wisconsin for two reasons – the potential his coaches said he had before outstanding showings he in the Boo Williams and King James tournaments and because him and Ryan love to win.
"His urge to win and compete was just like me," Wilson said. "I love to win and compete and I am ready to start competing."
After he committed, Wilson made Ryan look like a genius, as he led his team to a 20-2 record his senior year while averaging 18 points per game. He has a solid shooting touch from the perimeter, as he made 38 percent of his three-point attempts last season.
"We had identified Rob as a player with tremendous potential two years ago, and it has been great to see him blossom," UW associate head coach Greg Gard said. "He can play multiple perimeter positions and has an ever-improving scoring ability that will allow him to do a lot of good things in our system."
Playing in 21 of Wisconsin's 24 games in his freshman season, Wilson hasn't been a force offensively (averaging only 0.7 points per game and shooting 32.1 percent from the floor) this season and has been used sparingly in conference play, averaging just four minutes in Big Ten play.
But Wilson, who saw most extensive action at Marquette in posting career highs in points (7) and rebounds (5), has been lauded for his defensive skills coming off the bench, bringing in a needed relief in guarding some of the country's big men.
If Wilson is summoned off the bench when the Badgers host No. 24 Ohio State, the conference leader in field goal percentage (47.9 percent), the Buckeyes are going to have to contend with a different kind of defensive presence.
"Defensively, he is long, wiry and active, and is just touching the tip of the iceberg with regards to the havoc he can create for our opponents," Ryan said. "Rob is athletic to a certain extent, but he also knows he has a lot to learn, and that's what I'm impressed with. He's hungry. I like those guys."
From the moment he stepped on campus, Wilson did his part to show he was ready to compete on the court. Spending the summer working with fellow recruits Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans, Ian Markolf and Jordan Taylor, Wilson came into camp mentally tested and already with some role models.
"(The hill) was a big experience for me mentally," Wilson said. "The hill was a mental thing and it really prepares you for the road ahead.
"We've (the five freshmen) been around each other since the summer that we've become like brothers. I have also learned from Joe Krabbenhoft that I need to go hard every time that I can. I want to go hard, so I look at Joe to inspire me to play tough."
After watching freshman Tim Jarmusz get minutes last season because of his defense, Wilson continued to develop his defensive abilities and his athleticism so that he could be used for those defensive situations. Whatever his role is, Wilson's main goal is to win, just like his coach.
"I am doing everything I can, offensively and defensively, to learn what I can do to help the team," Wilson said. "The first few weeks have been a real learning experience. I feel that I can bring a lot of defense to this team and I am going to do whatever Coach (Ryan) needs.
"My main goal is to better myself, help the team and play as much as I can. I love to win and as Coach Ryan is our coach, we're going to win because he loves to win, too."