John Oxton isn’t offering coach-speak when he says forward Tyler Wahl “does whatever it takes to be successful.” Oxton, the boys basketball coach at Lakeville North High School in Minnesota, can provide ample evidence that Wahl is the embodiment of such a mindset.
Wahl is a 6-foot-7, 200-pound forward in the 2019 class who recently picked up a scholarship offer from Wisconsin, among several other programs. Pick a game from Lakeville North’s season and Wahl probably did something a little different to help his team win.
Take, for example, Lakeville North’s 73-67 victory against powerhouse Apple Valley that snapped a six-year losing streak in the series. Wahl tallied 20 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. He also wasn’t afraid to defend 6-2 point guard Tre Jones, who will play at Duke and is considered the No. 1 point guard in the 2018 class.
Two games later, Wahl could be found guarding 6-10 Prior Lake center Dawson Garcia, a 4-star prospect with several high-major offers.
During the season, Wahl was a capable scorer, a willing passer, a tenacious defender and much more. Those traits highlight why he’d be a perfect fit for a Wisconsin program that values versatility and attention to detail.
“If you need him to guard somebody, you need him to take the ball to the basket, you need him to crash the offensive boards, you need him to take a charge, he does all those kind of things that I think Wisconsin basketball is all about,” Oxton said. “That’s what Wisconsin basketball is as far as I’m concerned.
“He’s going to dive on the floor. He’s going to be just that hard-working player that’s going to figure out a way to be successful. Tyler on our team this year led us in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, blocked shots. That’s the kind of guy he is. And he did that playing in probably the best conference in the state of Minnesota at the highest level, and playing against a bunch of other Division I players as well. I just see him as a super well-rounded player, and I think that’s exactly what Wisconsin is excited about.”
Wahl’s dynamic skill set has stood out during the AAU basketball season while playing for D1 Minnesota, which also features Wisconsin prospects Zeke Nnaji and Matthew Hurt. Wahl has showcased an ability to hit 3-pointers, drive inside for dunks, defend inside and out and run the fast break. He said he occasionally brings the ball up the court for his team when point guard Tyrell Terry is not in the game.
After Wisconsin offered Wahl a scholarship on April 23, he picked up offers from Minnesota, Iowa State and Butler. Xavier and Northwestern are among the recent schools to have begun recruiting him. Wahl said he has been to Wisconsin several times. He was on campus last summer and returned during the fall to watch Wisconsin’s basketball team play Xavier and Wisconsin’s football team play Michigan.
“They like how I’m a hard-nosed guy with a chip on my shoulder and that my motor just keeps going no matter what,” Wahl said. “They’ve been one of the high-major schools that’s been with me the longest. So I think it’s pretty cool that they’ve been there the whole time.”
Wahl is rated by 247Sports as a 4-star prospect and the No. 24 power forward in the 2019 class. He averaged 17.5 points, 11.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.9 blocks for Lakeville North last season and saved some of his finest moments for the biggest games.
Tyler Wahl highlights
In the section playoff final, Wahl scored on a layup with 30 seconds remaining to give Lakeville North a 47-45 lead against Rochester John Marshall, which featured Hurt as its star player. Wahl made two free throws with 18 seconds left to extend the lead and help Lakeville North defeat Marshall 51-46 for a sixth straight season to win the section title.
Wahl averaged a double-double at the state tournament and recorded 19 points with 10 rebounds in a semifinal loss to Apple Valley. Wahl tallied 18 points and 14 rebounds in the third-place game against Eden Prairie to help Lakeville North finish the season 27-5. He earned second-team all-state honors from the Associated Press.
Wahl is familiar with Wisconsin’s coaching staff. Current Badgers forward Nate Reuvers, who is two years older than Wahl, also attended Lakeville North. The two players started together when Wahl was a sophomore and Reuvers a senior. Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft, who recruited Reuvers, is the lead recruiter for Wahl.
“Our relationship is good,” Wahl said. “They like checking in and seeing how my day is going. They usually text me a couple times a week. It’s not really like they’re pressuring me right now. But they just like seeing how everything is going for me. We have a good relationship.”
Wahl’s mother, Kaye, said Krabbenhoft was the first college coach to watch Tyler on the AAU circuit. She noted Krabbenhoft watched him play when he was 15 at a tournament in Las Vegas.
“Not too many college coaches come and watch 15-year-olds,” Kaye said. “He was under the basket watching him for one game in Vegas, so it goes back that far. I think that Tyler has an extremely good relationship with the coaches at Wisconsin. He definitely has a high level of trust with Joe. He’s known Joe for a while and feels like he can talk to him about the process, and Joe is helping him work through it.”
Kaye Wahl said Tyler is planning to take his final visits this summer and would like to have a decision in July after he finishes his AAU season. She said team chemistry would be important because of the number of years he will spend with the program. But Wisconsin figures to factor heavily in the process.
“Wisconsin is a beautiful campus,” Kaye said. “It’s an awesome academic school and a great basketball program. They’ve proven that they can put out great players and players that move on beyond the college level, if that’s what they choose to do and put the time in. It’s just a great program. There’s really no negatives about it.”