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Wisconsin Basketball in Contact With One of the Nation’s Best Rim Protectors

Wisconsin basketball has recently been linked to one of the nation’s top rim protectors in the 2024 recruiting class.



Wisconsin Badgers Basketball head coach Greg Gard
Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard is shown during the first half of their game against Iowa Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.

Greg Gard and the Wisconsin basketball program have been putting in WORK on the recruiting trail this summer. After landing four-star point guard Daniel Freitag to pair with wing commit Jack Robison — the Badgers coaching staff turned their attention to some big fish in the 2024 class: Kon Knueppel and Jackson McAndrew.

Outside of Knueppel and McAndrew, the Badgers don’t have any other players they’ve offered a scholarship to remaining on their board.

However, a new name has surfaced for Wisconsin basketball because Jake Lieberman reported that the Badgers have been in contact with 2024 top 150 recruit Jaden Smith out of Chicago, Illinois.

According to the industry-generated composite rankings, Smith is the No. 148 overall player in the 2024 recruiting cycle, the No. 28 C in the country, and the No. 4 player in Illinois.

As it stands, the 6-foot-11 big man holds scholarship offers from Akron, Arizona State, Dayton, Eastern Michigan, Georgia Tech, Illinois State, Illinois-Chicago, St. Louis, TCU, Western Illinois, and Wyoming. Smith is also receiving interest from Xavier and Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Basketball Showing Interest in a New 2024 Recruiting Target

UW is playing the waiting game on Kon Knueppel and Jackson McAndrew in the 2024 recruiting class. However, it’s interesting to hear that the Wisconsin basketball coaching staff is showing serious interest in another big man this late in the recruiting process.

Jaden Smith plays with Mac Irvin Fire on the AAU circuit and dramatically differs from the big men we’re accustomed to pursuing.

Talent evaluators widely regard the lanky Illinois native as one of the best rim-protecting rim-runners in the entire country. Smith’s offensive game isn’t quite as refined, and he’s not a floor spacer. That said, he’s incredibly mobile, runs the floor well, plays above the rim, and could be a defensive anchor for whichever program he chooses.

His stock rose after an impressive performance at the Peach Jam Invitational — particularly on the defensive end. Smith averaged 6.4 points and 6.0 rebounds on an efficient 53.8% from the field while tacking on an absurd 3.8 blocks per contest.

Wisconsin basketball will receive word on Jackson McAndrew in the coming weeks — and if the Badgers were to miss on the stretch four — it’ll be interesting to see if things progress between the staff and Jaden Smith.

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Dillon Graff is a Substack newsletter best-selling author, publisher of AllBadgers, and the owner of, your go-to source for in-depth coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers. His work has been featured in top media publications like USA Today's BadgersWire, Athlon Sports, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, Bucky's 5th Quarter, and FanSided.