Five high school seniors officially signed to play for Wisconsin basketball head coach Bo Ryan Thursday, locking up one of the more highly-touted recruiting classes of his tenure.
Although Wisconsin is not known for locking up nationally-ranked recruiting classes, the program appears to receive a major boost when these five prospects signed national letters of intent. Four of the five new Badgers are ranked as at least three-star recruits by Rivals.com, with the three guards and two forwards hailing from four different states.
Below are brief scouting reports on and Ryan’s thoughts on each player.
Bronson Koenig, guard, La Crosse
The supposed gem of Ryan’s 2013 class is point guard Bronson Koenig, a 6-foot-3 point guard from La Crosse’s Aquinas High School.
Koenig posted 18 points, four rebounds and more than four assists per game as a junior in 2011-12 and earned offers from perennial college basketball powerhouses like Duke and North Carolina before committing to UW. Ranked as the No. 14 point guard by Rivals, Koenig could be the long-term option manning the point of the Badgers’ offense.
“Bronson has exceptional court vision, great feel for the game and has the ability to take over a game or make plays for his teammates,” Ryan said in a statement released Thursday. “He also wants to be really good and play for championships. All the best guards we’ve had through the years have had that internal drive and motor to be the best and Bronson definitely has those traits.”
Nigel Hayes, forward, Toledo, Ohio
Koenig may headline Ryan’s class, but the crew received a major boost Sunday when three/four-star forward Nigel Hayes gave his verbal commitment to UW over Ohio State.
An Ohio native, Hayes could turn into a dominant defensive player in Madison, as he already holds his high school’s all-time record for blocks with another year remaining in his prep career. Hayes has earned the team Most Valuable Player award at Whitmer High School in each of his three years on the team, averaging nearly a double-double as a junior with 14 points and nine rebounds per game.
A physical specimen at 6-foot-7, 230 pounds, Ryan said Hayes could play take the court at either small or power forward as he tries to improve his range as a shooter.
“He’s been coached really well and understands a lot of the nuances of the game that will really help him at this level,” Ryan said. “Nigel’s potential is sky-high and I know our coaching staff is eager to help him develop into the player we think he can be.”
Vitto Brown, forward, Bowling Green, Ohio
The tallest member of the Badgers’ 2013 class arrives in Brown, another Ohio product who averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds per contest in his junior season at Bowling Green High School.
A three-star power forward who turned down offers from several Big Ten and Big 12 squads, Brown’s 7-foot-2 wingspan should add athleticism and versatility to the UW frontcourt.
“Vitto showed the ability to block shots, handle the ball in transition and knock down [three-pointers] from the perimeter in addition to the game he’s been able to build in the paint,” Ryan said. “He’ll be able to play both the [power forward] and the [center] positions and has a chance to be a real force on the interior for us in the future.”
Riley Dearring, guard, Minneapolis
One of the less-heralded recruits of Ryan’s class, the lanky, 6-foot-5 Dearring projects as a shooting guard in Ryan’s swing offense.
Also a three-star recruit, most of the Minnesota native’s other offers came from mid-major programs. Dearring posted 15 points and four rebounds to go along with two assists in 2011-12.
“Riley is a long, skilled, athletic wing who can play multiple perimeter positions,” Ryan said. “He has deep range with a quick and smooth release. Scoring has always come naturally for Riley.”
Jordan Hill, guard, Pasadena, Calif.
Rounding out Wisconsin’s recruiting class is Hill, a raw 6-foot-3 guard who may take some time to develop into the steady hand guiding the Badgers’ backcourt.
Phillips is currently finishing out his prep career at New Hampshire’s Phillips Exeter Academy – a prep basketball powerhouse – where he took a post-graduate year. At Pasadena’s LaSalle High School, he posted 15.5 points, seven rebounds and four assists as a senior.
“He’s an extremely sharp young man who just keeps getting better and better. He’s watched a lot over the past few years as Jordan Taylor was his favorite college player,” UW’s head coach said. “We have won a lot of games over the years with student-athletes who were hungry and had a special drive to be the best they could on and off the court. Jordan reminds our staff of those with the same qualities.”