A year after the Vander Blue debacle, the Badgers completed their 2011 by inking three players in a 38-day period, the latest being Cedar Rapids three-star forward Jarrod Uthoff on Monday. The other two athletes - Westerville South (Ohio) guard Traevon Jackson and Benet Academy (Ill.) center Frank Kaminsky - join Brooks College Prep (Ill) guard George Marshall in what many analysts are calling Ryan's most complete class.
Wisconsin also got a step on its two-member class of 2012, getting a verbal commitment from Sheboygan Lutheran shooting forward Sam Dekker – a three-star SF rated the 19th-best in the country by Scout.com – after UW's elite camp.
With three scholarship available for 2013, Manitowoc Lincoln forward Austin Mecca is hoping to join that group.
A first-team all-conference selection after leading his conference in rebounding, Mecca has been impressing onlookers with his play for the 15U Wisconsin Playground Warriors.
At the Indiana Shootout in Indianapolis and the Kentucky Hoops Festival in Louisville, Mecca helped his team to a combined record of 10-2, including a second-place finish.
"Our team has gotten better overall," Mecca told Badger Nation. "Even with the big break, our team continues to play really well. We really trust each other and you need to be in good shape to play in all these games.
Since bursting on to the circuit, Mecca has steadily improved. Named a co-MVP with teammate Bronson Koenig after leading the 15U team to the team championship in their division at the Bob Gibbons Tournament in Chapel Hill (N.C.) over Memorial Day, Mecca was a targeted by UW associate coach Greg Gard to compete at UW's elite camp in June.
"It's different having people watch me because I really haven't had that a lot," Mecca said. "I just try to play my game. There was some really good competition (at the UW camp). A lot of people were there teaching you and really put my skills to the challenge."
One of those challenges was going against some members of the Wisconsin roster, an enlightening experience for Mecca, showing him what he needs to work on to continue progressing towards his goal of a Badgers scholarship.
"I tried guarding Evan Anderson, which was pretty tough," Mecca said. "Coach Gard said that I have to work on my footwork and continue to get in better condition. I just have to be a lot more balanced. All the stuff they said has really helped. It's tough, but I like the competition and want to become a better player."
Although Mecca was left waiting, there was no ill will seeing teammates Dekker and Koenig get an offer extended to them.
"They deserve it," Mecca said. "They are both really good players and I am not going to take anything away from them. They just help me realize that you have to work for it."
Heading to Las Vegas this weekend for the Center Stage Tournament, a good performance should see his interest level increase.
"It's going to be bigger than any other tournament we've played this season because it's nationals and a lot of people are going to be watching us play," Mecca said. "I just want to play really hard, keep working together and just keep playing so when I can come into the season, I can help my team win."