The Wisconsin Badgers football team is on a bye… again. So this week we might as well shift a little bit of our collective focus toward basketball.
The Wisconsin Badgers basketball team comes into the season ranked No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Badgers have another tough schedule this year and lost three veteran leaders to graduation in Mike Bruesewitz, Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans.
To fill the void, the Badgers brought in their largest recruiting class of the Bo Ryan era and this class might be the most talented as well. With the consistent success the Badgers have had under Bo Ryan, that is saying a lot. Become well acquainted with these names because they should help the Badgers compete for Big Ten Championships and more for years to come.
Bronson Koenig: 6’3” 180 lbs. Point Guard. 4-Star Recruit by Rivals, 4-Star Recruit by ESPN.
Scholarships offered by: Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Marquette.
Koenig is the prize of this recruiting class, a nationally-coveted recruit that chose to stay home. He is from La Crosse, Wisconsin and was the leader of a two-time Wisconsin high school state champion team. Koenig averaged 17.0 points-per-game his senior year and shot 45.5 from the three point line. In his senior year he was Player of the Year for the state of Wisconsin and Top Senior Defensive Player of the year. Expect Koenig to earn playing time this season and do not be surprised if he plays well. By all accounts Koenig will be the Badgers’ point guard for years to come. There are some parallels between Koenig’s game and that of former Badger star Devin Harris.
Nigel Hayes: 6’7” 215 lbs. Power Forward. 3-Star Recruit by Rivals, 4-Star Recruit by ESPN.
Scholarships offered by: Ohio State, Butler, Stanford and Minnesota.
Hayes was one of the Buckeyes most coveted recruits but he chose Wisconsin. Once considered a lock to go to Ohio State the Wisconsin coaches out-recruited the Buckeyes and won over his mother. With a depleted front court Hayes could possibly see major minutes as a true freshman. He is from Toledo, Ohio and averaged 16.2 points and 8.8 rebounds-per-game his senior year launching him to first team All-State in Ohio. If Hayes continues to develop do not be surprised if he becomes a dominant force in the Big Ten.
Vitto Brown: 6’8” 230 lbs. Power Forward. 3-Star Recruit by Rivals, 2-Star Recruit by ESPN.
Scholarships offered by: Kansas State, Minnesota and Nebraska.
Brown is another strong pickup for the Badgers bolstering their suspect front court, which took a major hit to graduation. He is from Bowling Green, Ohio but played AAU ball for a prestigious team in Indianapolis, the Spiece Indy Heat. Multiple sources compared Brown’s game to fellow Badger recruit Hayes. As a senior he averaged 23.7 points-per-game and 13 rebounds-per-game and was first team All-State in Ohio. I’m not sure if both Hayes and Brown can both play big minutes this season, may the best man win. And if I know Bo, it’ll come down to whichever can play better defense.
Riley Dearring: 6’5” 170 lbs. Shooting Guard/Small Forward. 3-Star Recruit by Rivals, 3-Star Recruit by ESPN.
Scholarships offered by: Drake, Illinois State and Northeastern.
Dearring was in the running for Player of the Year in the state of Minnesota as a senior but did not win. He was a highly-touted player when he was young but has had a little trouble living up to the hype throughout high school. He is a very versatile player who can play multiple positions for the Badgers. He’s from Shorewood, Minnesota and it will be fun to see him develop his game under the coaching of Bo Ryan.
Jordan Hill: 6’3” 170 lbs. Shooting Guard. NR by Rivals, 2-Star Recruit by ESPN (3-Star by 24/7 Sports)
Scholarships Offered by: Brown, Dartmouth, Kent State, Lehigh and Yale.
His full name is Jordan Taylor Hill, and he appropriately grew up a big fan of former Badger Jordan Taylor. Hill is from Pasadena, California and finished high school in Exeter, New Hampshire. He prides himself on his defense and Senior Zach Bohannon said, “Remember Michael Flowers? Jordan Hill might end up being as good or even better defensively.” That is some high praise from a senior Badger. Hill was first team All-Conference and averaged 14.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals-per-game.
The last new Badger is a preferred walk-on.
Aaron Moesch: 6’8” 200 lbs. Power Forward. NR by Rivals, NR by ESPN.
Scholarship Offered by: Eastern Illinois.
Moesch is a lifelong Badger fan from Green Bay, Wisconsin. He was named a second team All-Fox River Classic Conference selection as a junior and upped his game to average 18 points-per-game as a senior. He could develop into another valuable walk-on for the Badgers that could grow into an important depth role on the team. Maybe Moesch can someday develop into another Joe Krabbenhoft type of player.
There you have it; these are the new faces in Madison. These are the players that the Grateful Red will be cheering for up to a year after a new president is in office.
The expectations for this year and the coming years are extremely high for the Bo Ryan led Badgers. With a quality recruiting class such as this joining the likes of Sam Dekker, Traevon Jackson, George Marshall, Frank Kaminsky, Josh Gasser and the lone starting senior Ben Brust. There is no reason to hold back excitement.
The season’s tipoff is in about two weeks and I could not be happier.