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BB Recruiting

Wisconsin Basketball Offers Versatile 2025 Forward EJ Walker



Wisconsin basketball recruiting target EJ Walker
Lloyd Memorial sophomore EJ Walker takes a shot during Lloyd's 49-42 win in the John Turner Classic Dec. 10, 2022, at Newport High School.

Just one day after Greg Gard and the Wisconsin basketball coaching staff made offers to Indy Heat 17U standouts Trent Sisley and Jalen Haralson, the Badgers officially extended a scholarship offer to Earlinger (KY.) 2025 forward EJ Walker.

Walker, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward that plays with Brad Beal Elite 16U, is already planning on taking an unofficial visit to Madison sometime in June.

“Coach Gard is a family man, and that’s how he views his program. I’m excited to visit there.”

At this time, he holds offers from Dayton, Minnesota, Missouri, Northern Kentucky, Purdue, West Virginia, Xavier, and now the Wisconsin basketball program. He’s also hearing from several other Power 5 programs like Indiana, Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State.

EJ Walker Scouting Report

The Wisconsin basketball coaching staff has been evaluating EJ Walker for a while now, and it’s easy to see why.

Walker’s unique combination of size, athleticism, and skill makes him a versatile chess piece any program would be lucky to have on the court.

Because of his physical stature, which is way ahead of most players his age, he can score from the inside with relative ease due to his impressive strength. But his jumper also makes him a threat defenses must account for from beyond the arc. If he continues to develop that aspect of his game, there’s no telling what type of player he could become.

Overall, Walker’s game is smooth, plus he shows potential to play above the rim, defend multiple positions, and be an impact rebounder. 

“Creating for others and making everybody around me better and doing whatever it takes to win is how I play,” Walker told Badgernotes.

Walker is the perfect “4” for modern-day basketball, and the ceiling here is very high, IMO. 

Final Thoughts on Wisconsin Basketball + Offer to EJ Walker 

Greg Gard and the Wisconsin basketball program have finally begun to pull the trigger on some offers in the 2025 recruiting cycle, and it’s obvious the first tier is going out to elite athletes.

EJ Walker looks the part of the player whose recruiting ranking will catch up to the offer list awfully quickly. That said, it’s encouraging that the Wisconsin basketball staff is getting him on campus in June.

“I know that they [UW] do a great job developing their guys and have been in the NCAA Tournament 22 of the last 24 seasons,” Walker told BadgerNotes. “I’m looking for a program that can develop me…good academics, a winning culture, and a family atmosphere is also important.”

As it stands, Wisconsin has known 2025 scholarship offers out to in-state recruits Davion Hannah and Kai Rogers, plus Trent Sisley, Jalen Haralson, and now, Walker. Although, more offers are sure to follow as the summer rolls on.


Should Wisconsin Basketball Consider Hiring an Ace Recruiting Specialist?



Wisconsin Basketball coaching staff
Jan 7, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard watches his team play against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the second half at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Greg Gard has been at the helm of the Wisconsin basketball program since 2015, taking over for legendary coach Bo Ryan midway through the season.

Coach Gard has had a successful tenure thus far, leading the Badgers to six NCAA Tournament appearances in his first eight seasons, winning two Big Ten regular season titles and two league Coach of the Year awards.

However, one issue that has plagued Gard and his staff nationally is their inability to bring in high-end talent consistently.

While Gard is considered an elite talent evaluator, as evidenced by the success of players he recruited and played a hand in developing, like Jordan Taylor, Ethan Happ, Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, and Johnny Davis, he has struggled to close the deal on some of the top recruits in the country despite the programs early involvement.

It’s on Gard to ultimately close the deal with recruits, and he could certainly stand to be more aggressive, but it’s worth acknowledging that Wisconsin basketball could benefit from making a change on his coaching staff if the athletic department is willing to fork over the money.

Why Greg Gard Should Consider Making a Change on His Staff

First things first, I’m not suggesting any Wisconsin coach get fired because we’re privy to a select tidbit of information. We’re not present behind closed doors to know the coaches’ relationships with players or their role in developing some of the young talents.

That said, we have access to a small amount of Wisconsin basketball recruiting information from 247Sports that I found interesting + worth discussing.

Assistant coach Dean Oliver, who has been on staff since 2017, has secured a verbal commitment from four players (Taylor Currie, Lorne Bowman, Connor Essegian, and John Blackwell) that he served as the lead recruiter.

For comparison, associate head coach Joe Krabenhoft has landed 14 commits during that same time frame. And Sharif Chambliss, who is entering his third season on staff, has yet to secure a verbal commitment, although he’s made strong inroads in the Milwaukee metro area, which has tremendous value–especially in the 2025 in-state cycle.

Adding Context to the Wisconsin Basketball Recruiting Situation 

Now, the context in this situation is important because coach Oliver isn’t acting as the lead for players in traditional strongholds like Wisconsin and Minnesota. Instead, he’s communicating with players who often know very little about the program and would have to travel much further than Krabbenhoft’s targets to visit campus.

These assignments are certainly no easy task, but at the end of the day, if that’s your role, then you need to execute well enough for Coach Gard to get those recruits on campus for visits and have the chance to close on recruits.

Not saying that coach Chambliss should get a pass here because it’s time to start seeing some returns from him as well. Still, Dean Oliver hasn’t been able to bring in impact recruits outside of Connor Essegian consistently (I can’t emphasize enough how great of a find he was).

But I think it’s fair to say that from a fan perspective, you’d like to see more success from your assistants on the recruiting trail. Closing rates are unimportant without context, and we ultimately have no idea how good at recruiting anyone is or isn’t. Still, the more challenging assignments have led to few wins outside of more common recruiting areas.

Some Thoughts on Wisconsin Basketball Recruiting

Wisconsin Basketball coach Greg Gard

Mar 28, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard looks on during the first half against the North Texas Mean Green at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Suppose Wisconsin basketball decides it needs to allocate more resources to recruiting. In that case, I think Greg Gard would benefit significantly from prioritizing a coach outside his network, which has built a reputation as a top-notch recruiter.

Hiring an assistant coach known for his recruiting prowess could be the boost the Badgers need to elevate the program’s ceiling and work their way into the mix for some of the higher-ranked prospects in the country.

I firmly believe that Gard is an excellent in-game coach who gets the most production out of his players. Since taking over the Wisconsin basketball program, Gard has led the Badgers to the highest win total among Big Ten teams. He has also compiled the third most conference wins, despite averaging the No. 9 recruiting class in the B1G during that timeframe.

Still, his roster management and talent evaluations more recently have left the program with questionable depth and need an overall upgrade in talent from top to bottom.

Of course, bringing in a new assistant coach is not a guaranteed solution to Wisconsin basketball and its perceived recruiting woes. It will still be up to Gard and his staff to build relationships with recruits, sell them on the program, and close the deal.

Only time will tell if Greg Gard agrees and decides to make this move. Still, it’s certainly an idea worth considering because if Wisconsin can elevate its recruiting efforts even marginally, It could get the Badgers back on track and over the hump.

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Dillon Graff on Twitter @DillonGraff.

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BB Recruiting

Wisconsin Basketball Program After Major Transfer Portal Entry



Wisconsin Basketball Head Coach Greg Gard
Mar 8, 2023; Chicago, IL, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard yells to his team during the second half of a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin basketball coaching staff has been active in the transfer portal this year, with another massive target entering the picture.

According to a report from The Portal Report, Wisconsin has been in contact with Mississippi State transfer Will McNair Jr.

McNair Jr, a red-shirt Senior from Mississippi State, played three seasons for the New Mexico State Aggies before transferring ahead of last season. He emerged as a key contributor during the 2021-2022 when the center played 22.9 minutes per game and started 27 games. This past season, McNair Jr served as one of the first players off the bench for the Bulldogs. Now, the talented big man is looking to play elsewhere next season.

Badgers Recruiting Transfer Big Man Will McNair Jr

Shortly after the Mississippi State Bulldogs lost their play-in game for the NCAA Tournament, McNair Jr entered the transfer portal. The versatile forward/center was one of six players last season to appear in every game for the Bulldogs. The big man had his best game last season during a 64-54 win over the Ole Miss Rebels. The center dropped 13 points and seven rebounds of 71% shooting. McNair Jr has shot 52.8% from the floor across his four years of play. The center also shot 54.9% during the 2021-22 season when he played nearly 23 minutes per game.

Coming in at 6-foot-11-inches, 265-pounds, McNair Jr is a powerful player willing to sacrifice his body to make big-time plays. McNair Jr is often flying across the lane for a block or diving on the floor to snag the loose ball. The versatile athlete plays his best down low on defense, where he cleans the glass and blocks shots with ease. Perhaps the best part of McNair Jr’s game is his basketball IQ. The talented center picks amazing shots from the floor, spaces the ball, and fills the lane in transition.

McNair Jr is able to play his best during the pick and roll or pick and pop situations due to his exceptional finishing ability. After struggling to crack the starting lineup for the Bulldogs, the center has now entered the transfer portal with another year of eligibility left. McNair Jr is searching for a team that can both provide playing time and a winning culture, which the Wisconsin Badgers could certainly provide.

Wisconsin Basketball Has Plenty To Offer For Transfer Center

The transfer big man has already heard from Nebraska, Vanderbilt, Tulsa, Temple, Western Kentucky, and Wisconsin among other programs. The Wisconsin Badgers basketball team is by far the biggest program to contact McNair Jr thus far. However, that does not mean they are in the lead to land the talented recruit. Wisconsin still has a long road ahead of them before the recruit is ready to announce his commitment.

Where Wisconsin Basketball Signees Land In Final 2023 Recruiting Rankings

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BB Recruiting

Wisconsin Basketball Recruiting Target Daniel Freitag Schedules Official Visit



Wisconsin basketball recruiting target Daniel Freitag
Daniel Freitag, left, checks out Wisconsin's football practice Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. Freitag has scholarship offers from Wisconsin in both basketball and football.

Madison, Wis. — Greg Gard and the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball program will have one of their most coveted 2024 recruiting targets on campus in June. Four-star point guard Daniel Freitag announced on social media that he would be taking an official visit to Madison, specifically for basketball, from June 14-16. 

Per the industry-generated 247Sports Composite rankings, Freitag is the No. 71 overall prospect in the 2024 recruiting class and the No. 9 PG in the country. 

“The Wisconsin staff has been great to me; Coach Gard and I are very close,” Freitag previously told BadgerNotes. “I am also very close to Coach Krabbenhoft and the other UW assistants.”

The Skinny 

Wisconsin basketball was the first Power 5 program to offer Daniel Freitag a scholarship after their advanced camp in June 2021 and has been in heavy pursuit ever since. 

Since then, the Minnesota native, who will play for Southern California Academy next season, has picked up offers from Baylor, Cal, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Virginia.

“Wisconsin was my very first offer, which I do not take lightly,” Freitag told BadgerNotes. “They’ve also shown seriousness in how much they want me by not offering any other point guards.”

Wisconsin Basketball Wants Daniel Freitag…Badly

The proverbial keys to the car would be there waiting if Greg Gard could find a way to close down Daniel Freitag’s recruitment early and bring him aboard the Wisconsin basketball family. 

Current starting point guard Chucky Hepburn would be a senior when he arrives on campus, making him a potential dream successor as the lead guard to the Nebraska native. 

The 6-foot-2 Howard Pulley standout has everything you could want from a point guard. He has good size, physicality, well-above-average athleticism, playmaking ability, and toughness. Freitag can also slash, play above the rim, and shoot from beyond the arc. 

In short, he’s the total package. And it’s no secret how badly coach Gard and his staff want him, considering they’ve barely even kicked the tires on any plan B options. 

As it stands, Wisconsin basketball has one verbal commitment in the 2024 recruiting class from three-star forward Jack Robison from Lakeville North High School in Minnesota. According to 247Sports, he’s the No. 144 overall player in the 2024 cycle and the No. 33 SF in the country.

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Dillon Graff on Twitter @DillonGraff.

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