Recruiting never stops in Badgers country, and we’re here to help put it all in perspective. Join us every Tuesday and Thursday night for a recap of Wisconsin recruiting news, insight on what’s happening behind the scenes and a glimpse at what’s coming next.
Badgers offer 2019 DT Jaden McKenzie
Jaden McKenzie, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound junior from Wake Forest, N.C., is the latest high school prospect to earn a Wisconsin scholarship offer. McKenzie tweeted about the offer Thursday.
— Jaden McKenzie (@jadenm92) February 1, 2018
McKenzie has six scholarship offers. The others are from North Carolina, Boston College, Old Dominion, Wake Forest and West Virginia. According to 247Sports, McKenzie finished his junior season with 97 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, and 9 sacks.
Based on his Hudl film, McKenzie plays defensive end in addition to tackle and is a powerful edge rusher who has no problem bowling over high school tackles to reach quarterbacks or running backs in the backfield. He also possesses impressive speed for such a big body and can track down tailbacks at the second level.
Wisconsin has looked across the country for defensive tackles in the 2019 class. The Badgers have offered scholarships to five uncommitted prospects in addition to McKenzie: Faatui Tuitele (Honolulu, Hawaii), Jowon Briggs (Cincinnati, Ohio), Mazi Smith (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Rodas Johnson (Columbus, Ohio) and Lloyd Murray Jr. (Wichita Falls, Texas).
QB commit Graham Mertz picks up Georgia offer
When Graham Mertz (Overland Park, Kan.) committed to Wisconsin on Oct. 8, he held three scholarship offers. The other two — Kansas and Minnesota — weren’t exactly blue-blood college football programs. But ever since Mertz led his high school team to a state championship and then performed well at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, offers have been flying at him fast and furious.
The latest offer came Wednesday, when Mertz tweeted about Georgia entering the fray.
Received an offer from the University of Georgia! 🐶 pic.twitter.com/RsbEzHuGsE
— Graham Mertz (@GrahamMertz5) January 31, 2018
Since committing to Wisconsin, Mertz has received offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Missouri and Georgia. And based on his trajectory, there presumably are more offers in the works. The more big-time programs come after Mertz, the more it causes unrest among the Badgers fan base.
Mertz and his father, Ron, reaffirmed Graham’s commitment to Wisconsin two weeks ago in an interview with Land of 10.
“He’s fully committed to Wisconsin,” Ron said. “It’s flattering to see all the other attention. There’s definitely kind of a sense that Wisconsin was here first, it feels right in my gut and that’s where he’s going to be. But any 17-year-old kid has to find some satisfaction in the attention of others. I’m sure he’s enjoyed that. I try to keep him grounded.”
If Mertz ultimately signs with Wisconsin, he would be the second-highest-rated Badgers quarterback coming out of high school behind Bart Houston. Houston was rated as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the 2012 class, while Mertz is ranked No. 7 in the 2019 class. Of course, Mertz will have an opportunity to increase his stock as a senior. He already has an offer list that Houston did not. Houston’s other scholarship offers came from Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Iowa, San Diego State and UCLA.
2018 G Ochai Agbaji earns hoops offer
Wisconsin’s basketball coaching staff continues to look for another piece to add to its 2018 recruiting class, and one new target is Ochai Agbaji, a 6-5, 195-pound shooting guard from Kansas City, Mo. Agbaji earned a Badgers scholarship offer on Saturday.
Blessed to receive an offer from Wisconsin! pic.twitter.com/4ZixvLkItJ
— Ochai Agbaji (@youngoch) January 27, 2018
Agbaji has 14 offers, with five coming from Power 5 conference programs: Wisconsin, Texas A&M, Oregon State, Oregon and Nebraska. Oregon offered Tuesday, while Nebraska offered Wednesday. His other offers are from Air Force, Colorado State, Fresno State, Loyola-Chicago, Miami (Ohio), Missouri-Kansas City, New Orleans, Northern Iowa and Texas State. Agbaji took an unofficial visit to Kansas two weeks ago.
According to MaxPreps, Agbaji is averaging 27.2 points and 9.1 rebounds per game in his senior season at Oak Park High School. He is shooting 55.7 percent from the field and 30.4 percent on 3-point attempts (25 of 82). Last season as a junior, he averaged 23.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Agbaji is a 3-star prospect who is rated as the No. 11 player in Missouri and the No. 74 shooting guard in the country, according to the 247Sports composite.
Rivals.com basketball reporter Eric Bossi watched Agbaji tally 31 points and 10 rebounds during a game last week. Here is Bossi’s assessment of Agbaji’s skill set:
“Agbaji has the look of a classic late bloomer. While he’s put up big numbers in high school ball for a few years now, how he’s doing his damage has really evolved. He didn’t get to take many jump shots in Tuesday night’s game, but those he did were crisp and smooth and his stroke from the free-throw line is mechanically sound.
“With his size and athleticism, it’s easy to see why Agbaji is a player that upper-end mid-majors want badly, but high-majors have started to sniff him out and he’s trending towards that level.”
Wisconsin’s best bet to land another player in the 2018 class is likely with a late bloomer who has yet to attract bunches of high-major offers, so Agbaji could fit the bill. Wisconsin recently offered point guard Tyger Campbell, who had 18 scholarship offers, and is the No. 2 player in Indiana. But he narrowed his list to four schools Monday, and Wisconsin was not included. Instead, he picked Maryland, UCLA, Purdue and DePaul.
Agbaji told Bossi he wasn’t in a hurry to make a decision, but he has several options from which to choose. He intends on taking an unofficial visit to Oregon State on Feb. 10. Agbaji was born in Milwaukee before moving to Kansas City, and his father played basketball at UW-Milwaukee.
“I’m just looking for the school that’s the right fit,” Agbaji told Bossi. “A school that I can go in and be effective as a freshman right away. I’d probably be a better fit in up-tempo, but that doesn’t really matter because I just want a good coach who can make me better as a player.”
Badgers add 2018 PG Xavier Pinson to offer list
Two days after Wisconsin offered a scholarship to Agbaji, the Badgers extended one to point guard Xavier Pinson, a 6-2, 170-pound senior from Simeon High School in Chicago.
— XP3 (@xpinson3) January 30, 2018
Pinson has offers from Wisconsin, Missouri, Dayton, DePaul, Georgetown and Memphis. And there appears to be genuine interest from Pinson in the Badgers.
Pinson took an unofficial visit to see Wisconsin’s 74-63 loss against Nebraska on Monday and told Evan Flood of Badger247 that he may set up an official visit before he announces his commitment decision Feb. 22.
“They need a point guard real bad,” Pinson told Flood. “I noticed that when they were struggling in the second half. They said they need a guy like me real bad. I think I would fit in real good. My high school team runs like the same offense as Wisconsin.”
Simeon is the No. 1-ranked team in Illinois for Class 4A at 20-3. Pinson scored 11 points in Simeon’s 80-63 victory against No. 2 Curie on Jan. 25. The Chicago Defender named Pinson as one of the “Top 5 Chicago Hoopers,” noting that “Pinson would be a star on any other team in the city … point blank period. He comes off the bench for what head coach Rob Smith calls maybe his most dominant team of all time. He gives an instant punch offensively and makes the game easier for his teammates.”