Brendan Bauer can't do anything about the fact that he attends a small school or the level of competition he faces week in and week out.
So, the 6-foot-4-inch, 200-pounder from Gilmanton High School, a Division 4 program from the Dairyland Conference, concentrates on improving his basketball skills in hopes that college recruiters will appreciate his talents enough that one of them will come calling.
The senior averaged 18 points and 10.7 rebounds per game for Kory Rud's 10-12 squad a year ago, earning second-team all-league recognition. He made Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook's preseason D-4 all-state team this year and got off to a great start with 24 points, 19 rebounds and five steals in the Panthers' season-opening victory against Cornell.
That kind of performance should open more eyes. At this point, UW-Superior has, by far, shown the most interest in Bauer's services, although several other Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schools and St. Norbert have touched base.
Bauer said he'd welcome the opportunity to play for the Yellowjackets, but his plan is to focus on the season and make a decision after that—hopefully with other options to consider.
"I'm not worried at this point, so I'm going to wait and see what happens," said Bauer, who is undecided about a major but is looking at something in the liberal arts area.
Rud, who's in his fifth season as Gilmanton's head coach, said that versatility is arguably Bauer's best attribute because even though the latter is primarily a forward, he has performed wherever the Panthers have needed him as a member of the varsity since his freshman season and as a starter the past two years.
"He has great fundamental basketball skills and has a good knowledge of the game and is willing to help other players be better," Rud said. "Brendan is a physical post presence and uses his athletic ability to be a good rebounder. He's gotten much better off the dribble and that confidence has made him stronger with his moves. His first step is pretty quick and he can dribble, things that surprise some people for his size."
Bauer said he prefers to play a wing position, a flexible role that allows him to drive and dish off. He made 51 percent of his shots from the field a year ago, including 34.5 percent from three-point range, and converted 75 percent of his free throws.
"Brendan likes to do well in class and on the court and works all year to be the best he can be," Rud said.
Still, Bauer hasn't let his success detract from trying to improve. He's participated in Amateur Athletic Union programs in the La Crosse and Eau Claire areas the past three summers, something that's helped tremendously in gaining exposure while allowing him to face better competition.
"Playing AAU ball helps a lot because our school is so small that a lot of people don't know about us," Bauer said. "I've been tweaking my shot for years and I think I've improved on that the most. I'm not, when it comes to technique, what they call a shooter. I won't be going out to 25 feet, but I can shoot the 3. I've improved my dribbling and that's something I can always work on. I want to become quicker and even though I averaged more than 10 rebounds per game, that's one area I want to keep improving."
With that kind of attitude and determination, Bauer should receive much more attention as the season heads toward March Madness.