That Sun Prairie star Nick Fuller could have a great final season with the Cardinals boys basketball team and still not be a shoo-in to earn first-team All-State honors speaks to how loaded the 2013 class is in Wisconsin.
A player with the pedigree of Fuller, a senior forward who’s headed to Nebraska next season, might be the preseason favorite for Mr. Basketball honors some years in the state. In 2013, Fuller is the third-ranked prospect … on his own AAU team.
Mark Miller, a writer for WisSports.net who has been putting out the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook for 28 years, said he’s never seen a class in the state as good as this one.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Miller said. “The depth in this class is unmatched as far as I can recall.”
Fuller is one of six seniors from the state who will sign National Letters of Intent on Wednesday to play for programs in either the Big Ten, Big East or Big 12. Two of Fuller’s AAU teammates — La Crosse Aquinas guard Bronson Koenig (University of Wisconsin) and Germantown center Luke Fischer (Indiana) will be joining him in the Big Ten. Whitefish Bay Dominican guard Duane Wilson and Milwaukee Vincent forward Deonte Burton are headed to Marquette, while Onalaska guard Matt Thomas will sign with Iowa State.
Thomas (32), Burton (42), Wilson (57) and Koenig (94) are all ranked among the top 100 players in the 2013 class by ESPN. Fischer didn’t make the cut, but was at No. 116 with Rivals.com.
“I don’t know if people in this state really appreciate what level of players we have within this state right now,” said Justin Litscher, who coached the 17U Wisconsin Swing team that featured Koenig, Fischer and Fuller. “There are guys with legitimate potential of playing in the NBA — and more than one or two of them — with development.”
Litscher’s team also included two UW-Milwaukee recruits, East Troy forward Alex Prahl and Pulaski guard Cody Wichmann.
Prahl’s twin brother, Brett, was also on the team and will attend UW-Milwaukee as a preferred walk-on.
Another Swing player, Oconomowoc’s T.J. Schlundt, is a junior guard who already has received mid-major scholarship offers.
“We play a national schedule, so we see the best there is,” Litscher said. “I undoubtedly, after very game, get. ‘Man, you guys can play. Your kids are good.’ I think at first they maybe were a little shocked.”
Not only does the 2013 class in Wisconsin feature high-end talent, it has a lot of depth. In all, seventeen players are expected to sign with Division I programs on Wednesday, a group that includes Mequon Homestead’s Luke Worthington (BYU) and Berlin’s Toby Hegner (Creighton).
A handful of other players in the state could end up signing with Division I programs by the time the dust settles in the spring.
UW associate head coach Greg Gard attributes the banner crop of talent in Wisconsin to two things: the quality of high school coaching and the abundance of opportunities to play against quality competition in the offseason.
“When I was coming through, there was maybe one team in Milwaukee and one in Madison and that was it for the whole state,” said Gard, who grew up in southwestern Wisconsin. “Now you go to Las Vegas in the summer and there’s like 30 teams from Wisconsin.”
It might be awhile before another class like this comes out of Wisconsin, though the next two groups feature players who are considered elite at the national level. The 2014 class is headlined by Milwaukee Hamilton forward Kevon Looney, while the stars in the 2015 class are Whitefish Bay Dominican center Diamond Stone and Rice Lake forward Henry Ellenson.
Division I recruiters “are coming into our state a lot more than they did in the past,” Miller said. “And not just from the Midwest. I think the word is out there that there a lot of good players in Wisconsin.”