Twin Cities native Ben Carlson verbally committed to the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team Wednesday afternoon.
In-state recruiting has been a staple of the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program. Top prospects like Brian Butch, Sam Dekker and Trévon Hughes were all products of the state of Wisconsin. But the times seem to be changing — or at least partially shifting — to a nearby midwestern state — Minnesota.
Tuesday, the Badgers added 6-foot-9 Steven Crowl to their budding class. Shortly after this, forward Ben Carlson verbally committed Wednesday. Both Crowl and Carlson are from Saint Paul, Minnesota.
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Carlson spoke of the funnel from Minnesota to Madison in a conversation with the Herald.
“I feel like people from Minnesota just like the culture at Wisconsin and the people in the program,” Carlson said.
The Twin Cities area pumped out numerous quality recruits Badgers like Jared Berggren, Jordan Taylor and Mike Bruesewitz. The number of recent Twin Cities’ recruits has only grown lately with current Badgers Brad Davison, Nate Reuvers and newcomer Tyler Wahl.
Davison, a Maple Grove, Minnesota native, gave his insight into the bevy of recruits from his state.
“There has been a lot of great talent out of Minnesota the last couple years and our program’s culture is very attractive to guys who want to compete and win at the highest level,” Davison said. “As a kid from Minnesota, it is fun to compete with players from your hometown state.”
Crowl and Carlson strengthen both the Minnesota pipeline and the Badgers’ 2020 class.
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The Minnesota bigs join brothers Jordan and Johnny Davis from La Crosse as well as Lorne Bowman from the Detroit area. All five recruits are within the Top 10 players in their respective states, according to 247 Sports state rankings. This is head coach Greg Gard’s most complete class and currently ranks as the top class in the Big Ten among 247 Sports and rivals.
“Having a big-time recruiting class coming in takes the whole team to another level,” Davison said. “Every player will be pushed and forced to elevate their game day in and day out.”
Carlson’s combination of size, versatility and ball handling translates well to a Badger team that expects these traits from their big men.
Davison described Carlson as a combination of various post players at Wisconsin. Carlson characterizes himself as a “really well-rounded player” regarding his various skills at both ends of the court.
Wisconsin began their pursuit of Carlson during his freshman year of high school, but Carlson zeroed in on the decision just before his announcement.
“Honestly, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go to school until last night when I sat down with my family and talked with them about my decision,” Carlson said.
Gard and assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft have relentlessly recruited Minnesota, and prospects like Crowl and Carlson should only enhance their efforts.
Regarding the 2021 class, four-star forward Chris Hodges from Schaumburg, Illinois is the only current commit. This weekend, fellow four-star Jackson Grant out of Olympia, Washington will make an official visit to Madison.
In-state recruiting may be dead, but Gard and his assistants look to have a grip on the surrounding talent.