Badger State's Young Guns

If the last two Wisconsin AAU Tournaments are any indication of the status of grassroots basketball in the state of Wisconsin, the 2012 and 2013 recruiting classes will have many Division 1 athletes from the Badger State.

Take one glance at the grassroots landscape in the state of Wisconsin and onlookers can't help but be impressed. Never recognized nationally as a basketball hotbed, the Badger State has one of the top 2012 prospects in the country, two 2013 players that have already started hauling in scholarships and a couple of rising prospects from the Milwaukee suburbs that the Wisconsin coaching staff has already seen and walked away impressed.

With AAU stops in Stoughton for the Wisconsin State AAU Tournament and Wisconsin Dells for Hugh Robert Classic, Badger Nation looks and some of the up-and-coming headliners.

Class of 2012

There's no question that the upcoming juniors in the state of Wisconsin are an incredible group of prospects. Of course with J.P. Tokoto one of the top prospects in the nation, the rest of the class sometimes gets lost among the muddle. After sitting out the AAU Tournament, Tokoto returned in the Dells and showed why he has college coaches drooling over him.

Tokoto is a man among boys in these AAU Tournaments, no matter if he plays in the 16U or 17U age division. His athleticism continues to improve as he adds some weight and experience throughout the summer. The 6-foot-6 Tokoto is a high flyer that can mix it up in the post, bring the ball up court and create separation against any player out of position.

After Tokoto, the fastest riser in the 2012 class could be Playground Warriors teammate Sam Dekker. Dekker, who just picked up a scholarship offer from Northern Illinois Monday, started turning heads after he nearly averaged a double-double (26.5 points, 9.2 rebounds) during his sophomore year at Sheboygan Area Lutheran, but his time on the AAU Circuit has really refined his game.

At 6-foot-6, Dekker has a smooth shot from the perimeter, can handle the ball well enough to create his own separation for his shot and can drive, rebound and finish around the basket. His dunks are impressive and if it wasn't for Tokoto, could be the best 2012 player in the state.

Another Northern Illinois was sent out to Darrell Bowie, a 6-foot-6 forward from Wauwatosa East that is another rising prospect on the court for the Playground Warriors. Also with an offer from Cal Poly, Bowie fits right in with the up-tempo Warriors, running the floor with ease and can play well above the rim with his athleticism.

Although he has struggled with his perimeter jump shot the past two weekends, Bowie is an effective rebounder, using his long arms and strength to out muscle other post players. Bowie has been to the Kohl Center on an unofficial visit after UW Coach Bo Ryan saw his skills firsthand and should he continue to make strides, he'll have an offer to play their permanently.

Another player the UW coaching staff have watched and have come away impressed with is Phillip Nolan, a legit 6-foot-10, 200-pound forward with a 7-foot wingspan for Milwaukee Vincent. A talented skinny lefty, Nolan already has a scholarship offer from Marquette and isn't hard to miss in the post for the Warriors. He grabs most of the loose balls that come his way and has the ability to go up strong with the shot or kick the ball out to the open man. He still needs to add some muscle, but his skills can't be disregarded.

Class of 2013

When penciling out the top in-state high school players for the Class of 2013, Manitowoc Lincoln forward Austin Mecca might be at the top of the list. A 6-foot-7 freshman that does his business for the Playground Warriors, Mecca's skills are not as refined at this early stage of his development, but he has a good foundation of post moves, length on the perimeter and shows flashes of being an impressive player. Mecca has an offer from former GB coach Tod Kowalczyk now at Toledo, a sign of many offers to come.

If Mecca is number one, La Crosse Aquinas Bronson Koenig could be a close number two. Koenig, who also plays for the Playground Warriors, impressed onlookers with 23 points in the title game. It wasn't the number of points he scored but how he scored them, a combination of three-pointers, jump shots and points in the paint, impressive for a 6-foot-1 point guard.

Watching Koenig, it's evident he's a point guard that has outstanding skills handling the ball, finding the open teammate and understanding what he needs to do in order to be successful. Green Bay and Toledo are the first schools that have offered, but expect him to have more than a couple offers from Division 1 schools in the Midwest.

Attempts to contact Ritchie Davis, director of the Wisconsin Playground Warriors, for comments on this story were unsuccessful

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