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How does Wisconsin hoops move on after Tyler Herro?
Tyler Herro was a prized commitment in Wisconsin’s 2018 basketball class — and also the only commit for more than a year. So when he officially announced Tuesday on Twitter that he had reopened his recruitment, it represented a stinging blow to the Badgers program, as well as the fan base.
Thank you! pic.twitter.com/bUKRnyG9s8
— Tyler Herro (@raf_tyler) October 18, 2017
Herro, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound shooting guard from Milwaukee, is rated as the No. 2 player in the state and the No. 4 shooting guard in the country, according to the 247Sports composite. Wisconsin once was optimistic that it could pair Herro with No. 1 in-state prospect Joey Hauser to form a frightening duo that could carry the Badgers to another Final Four. But Hauser committed to Marquette, and Wisconsin has now missed out on both of the state’s top recruits for 2018.
Herro committed to Wisconsin on Sept. 12, 2016. He took his official campus visit less than three weeks ago on Sept. 30 and offered no outward indication he was unhappy.
“I feel more a part of the team now because I took my official and can hang out with the guys a little more,” Herro told Scout.com writer Ben Worgull after his visit. “We went out the last two nights, hung out, got together. I feel our bond is really tight, and that’s going to go a long way.”
Herro seemed to be the type of centerpiece player who could help convince other potential in-state prospects to join the program, particularly 2020 forward Jalen Johnson (Sun Prairie, Wis.), who visited the same weekend as Herro.
— Tyler Herro (@raf_tyler) October 2, 2017
Ultimately, however, Herro needed to do what he felt was best for his own career. And while fans might not agree with his decision, he has a right to go wherever he wants.
Herro told Scout.com reporter Evan Daniels this week that he had spoken to his family the last couple of months and “felt eerie” about signing with Wisconsin.
The Badgers are set to return all of their guards in 2018, so perhaps Herro believed immediate playing time would be an issue. Even Sam Dekker, one of the most highly rated in-state prospects to come through Wisconsin, started only three games as a freshman in 2012-13 and averaged 22.3 minutes per game. But he improved every season and left school a year early to become a first-round NBA draft choice of the Houston Rockets.
“I’m just looking for a college that I can excel in the offense, come in right away and contribute, have a great relationship with the coach and hopefully that school can get me to next level,” Herro told Daniels.
Herro told Daniels he had spoken to Kansas, Arizona, Ohio State, Villanova, Creighton, Florida and Oregon.
The timing of Herro’s decision is far from ideal for Wisconsin because the early signing period runs from Nov. 8-15. The fact Herro waited this long to officially de-commit likely cost Wisconsin an opportunity to pursue other members of the 2018 class. For example, 6-5, 200-pound small forward Aaron Henry committed to Michigan State on Sept. 11.
But Wisconsin has shown in the past that it is able to respond when in-state recruiting doesn’t fall exactly as planned. Life went on when Vander Blue de-committed back in 2009, and the Badgers turned out just fine. Life went on when J.P. Tokoto and Diamond Stone opted to play elsewhere as well. Life will go on for the Badgers this time, too.
So what do the Badgers do next? For starters, the coaching staff won’t be impatient. The regular NCAA basketball signing period runs in 2018 from April 11 to May 16. And while Wisconsin would love to have everything wrapped up in a neat little bow for the November early signing period, coaches will take their time to evaluate prospects.
Wisconsin also doesn’t necessarily need to offer a scholarship to a guard in 2018 because the Badgers will have a boatload of them on the roster next season: D’Mitrik Trice, Brevin Pritzl, Trevor Anderson, Kobe King and Brad Davison. Anderson is a walk-on who is sitting out this season after transferring from Green Bay, but he was darn good in 20 games as a freshman for the Phoenix. Trice and Pritzl will be veteran leaders next season, while King and Davison should see plenty of opportunities to play as freshmen this season.
Instead, Wisconsin may shift its focus to landing more frontcourt players. Taylor Currie, a 6-8, 200-pound forward, de-committed from Michigan on Sept. 29 and is expected to visit Wisconsin’s campus this weekend. Wisconsin did not offer a scholarship to 6-9, 225-pound forward Jack Hemphill (Raleigh, N.C.) on his campus visit three weeks ago but will continue to monitor his progress during his senior season.
Wisconsin has two scholarships open for the 2018-19 team. If forward Ethan Happ leaves school early for the NBA draft, the Badgers would have three available scholarships. Center Joe Hedstrom (Hopkins, Minn.) committed to the Badgers in 2018, but he accepted a “4-for-5” deal, which would make him a walk-on next season before earning a scholarship in 2019. It’s possible Wisconsin could upgrade Hedstrom to a scholarship player in 2018.
If Wisconsin doesn’t make a significant move in the 2018 recruiting class, it won’t signify the end of the Badgers’ ability to compete in the Big Ten. Keep in mind that Wisconsin is set to return everybody next season other than fifth-year senior forward Aaron Moesch, a walk-on who earned a scholarship before this season, although Happ certainly could leave early.
No matter what, Wisconsin’s recruiting efforts in the 2019 class will become vital because the Badgers will be losing at least four scholarship frontcourt players: Alex Illikainen, Charlie Thomas, Khalil Iverson and Andy Van Vliet. Wisconsin already has scholarship offers out to point guard D.J. Carton (Bettendorf, Iowa), as well as forwards Matthew Hurt (Rochester, Minn.), Nobal Days (Racine, Wis.) and Zeke Nnaji (Hopkins, Minn.).
Herro is an exceptional player who will be solid at whichever school he chooses. But just because he won’t be suiting up for Wisconsin doesn’t mean the Badgers have reason to panic.
In-state 2019 prospect Derik LeCaptain a frequent visitor
Wisconsin already has offered football scholarships to two in-state prospects for the 2019 class in athletes Da’Shaun Brown (Racine, Wis.) and Leo Chenal (Grantsburg, Wis.). Derik LeCaptain (Brussels, Wis.) doesn’t have an offer yet, but the Badgers are interested in his skill set.
LeCaptain has taken unofficial visits for Wisconsin’s Big Ten games against Northwestern and Purdue, and he has been dominant at Southern Door High School this season at multiple positions. During his team’s 27-14 victory against Coleman, LeCaptain completed 12 of 20 passes for 158 yards with 3 touchdowns. He also carried 34 times for 127 yards.
— Derik LeCaptain (@derik_lecaptain) October 14, 2017
LeCaptain also has interest from Iowa, and he visited Iowa City to see the Hawkeyes’ game against Penn State earlier this season. Ben Worgull of Scout.com reported that LeCaptain projects as an outside linebacker or a tight end at Wisconsin.
“I seem to have a better time every time I come down,” LeCaptain told Worgull after Wisconsin’s game against Northwestern. “It’s cool to see everything, see the fans, see the players and be around the other players and recruits. It was a fun time … Everyone in the crowd is a big family. The crowd and the players jell with the players so well. It’s a great atmosphere.”
Highlights from the first five games of his junior season show a player who is more physically advanced than many of his opponents. He is a strong running back capable of bouncing outside and out-running the defense. He plays both safety and linebacker on defense and is savvy at reading quarterbacks’ throws and knowing where to blitz. Check him out below: