The obvious focus Saturday at the University of Wisconsin is on the football team's matchup with No. 1 Ohio State, but it's also an important recruiting day for the men's basketball team.
Menomonee Falls junior forward J.P. Tokoto, La Crosse Aquinas sophomore guard Bronson Koenig, Milwaukee Hamilton freshman forward David Burrell and Sheboygan Lutheran junior forward and UW recruit Sam Dekker are among as many as 20 high school players from several states who are making unofficial visits Saturday.
Also, all four of the high school seniors who have made verbal commitments to play for the Badgers and are expected to sign national letters of intent in November are making their official visits this weekend. They are 6-2 guard Traevon Jackson from Westerville, Ohio, 6-10 forward Frank Kaminsky from Lisle, Ill. (Benet Academy), 6-foot guard George Marshall from Chicago (Brooks) and 6-8 forward Jarrod Uthoff from Cedar Rapids (Jefferson).
Besides watching the game at Camp Randall Saturday night, they will attend the men's basketball team's scrimmage at the UW Field House that begins at 2:30 p.m.
The event, called "Wisconsin Basketball Field House Madness," is free to the public and will feature an appearance by former UW and NBA player Michael Finley, who played his college career at the Field House. There also will be interactive contests and giveaways, including a pair of season tickets for the 2010-11 season.
Wisconsin Playground Warriors coach Ritchie Davis said the UW coaching staff has been working hard recruiting Tokoto and Koenig. Both players have drawn interest from almost every top college program in the country.
"Trust me, (Tokoto and Koenig) are priority No. 1 and No. 2 right now. Tokoto is No. 1 because he's a year older," Davis said.
Davis said Tokoto and Koenig already have made unofficial visits to UW this fall. "Bo and his coaches are laying it out there and we'll see what happens. If they don't get them it won't be from lack of effort," said Davis, who added that Ryan has taken the lead in the recruiting effort.
"Last year, when Wisconsin came over to watch J.P. at Menomonee Falls and even a couple of road games during the high school season, it was Bo Ryan or Bo and Kelly Ryan," Davis said. "It's not like he's not out there recruiting. He's everywhere."
The evening kickoff is allowing the basketball staff to do more with their visitors as far as showcasing the campus, athletic facilities and meeting administration and athletic department officials. Morning or early afternoon kickoffs prohibit much of that.
UW coaches were busy trying to finalize a list of high school players who were making unofficial visits. The list of names was changing daily and Davis could understand why. He said Tokoto was trying to fit in a trip to Marquette for its Midnight Madness event but wasn't sure if he could attend because of schedule problems.
Ryan is excited to see Finley as well as other UW players and coaches who played at the Field House.
"There will be some guys who have some pretty fond memories of (the Field House)," said Ryan, who coached there as an assistant under Bill Cofield and Steve Yoder from 1976 to '84.
Ryan added that some of the Badgers became worried after he said they would be playing in a throwback scrimmage. "The guys asked, ‘Coach, do we have to wear those throwback uniforms?'"
The UW coach assured them they could wear their present uniforms.