Riley Dearring knew he was being watched closely by members of the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball coaching staff last weekend during an AAU tournament in Mequon.
Rather than trying to do something spectacular to wow the Badgers brass, the 6-foot-5 swingman from the Minneapolis area told himself to play his game and good things would happen.
UW coach Bo Ryan and associate head coach Greg Gard apparently liked what they saw and extended a scholarship offer to Dearring over the weekend. And Dearring accepted it on Thursday morning, orally committing to the Badgers during a phone call with Ryan.
“I like the history,” said Dearring, who’s back in Mequon for another AAU tournament that began Wednesday. “It’s got great coaches, great facilities, great atmosphere and the people around here are awesome.”
Dearring, who will be a senior at Minnetonka High School in the fall, is the second member of UW’s 2013 recruiting class. He joins Bronson Koenig, a highly regarded guard from La Crosse Aquinas. Per NCAA rules, Ryan and his coaching staff can’t comment on either recruit until they sign National Letters of Intent in November.
As a junior, Dearring averaged 14.5 points for a Minnetonka team that went 19-9. UW is the only high-major program to offer Dearring — his other offers were from Drake and Illinois State — but interest seemed to be picking up of late. Illinois and Clemson were among the teams to contact Dearring after his strong showing last weekend.
“His confidence is at an all-time high right now,” said Marquise Watts, who coaches Dearring on the Net Gain Sports AAU team. “I think he’s putting everything together.”
Minnetonka coach Tom Dasovich said he believes Dearring would have had at least 15 scholarship offers if he waited through the July evaluation to make his college choice. But Dearring said there was no reason to delay the decision.
“Me and my family, we talked about it a lot,” said Dearring, whose father grew up in Racine and is a first cousin to NBA player and Racine native Caron Butler. “We felt that Wisconsin was the best fit and we just thought it’d be the best situation and the best place for me. We felt, why wait any longer?”
Dearring’s commitment continues a recruiting pipeline in Minnesota for UW under Ryan. The Badgers had three starters from the state — point guard Jordan Taylor (Bloomington), forward Mike Bruesewitz (St. Paul) and center Jared Berggren (Princeton) — on last year’s team that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. A year earlier, Taylor and forward Jon Leuer (Orono) were the leading scorers on a UW team that also advanced to the Sweet 16.
“Bo has done really well with a lot of Minnesota players,” Dearring said. “I definitely took that into consideration.”
Dearring is a strong shooter from the perimeter, but he’s also confident in his mid-range game and willing to take the ball to the rim. He admits he needs to become more explosive and add weight to his skinny, 175-pound frame.
“I think he’ll fit very well into coach Ryan’s system with the Badgers,” said Dasovich, who coached Bruesewitz at Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights before taking over the Minnetonka program in 2010. “He’s the type of kid that can guard multiple positions. He can play a couple positions as well. Being skilled enough to shoot it, handle it and pass it, I think he’s a great fit for what Wisconsin tries to do.”
Dearring has moved around a lot in high school in the Minneapolis area. He began his career at Hopkins before transferring to DeLaSalle for his sophomore season. After a tornado severely damaged their home last year, the Dearring family moved to Minnetonka.
Dasovich said the transfer situation looks worse than it is and calls Dearring “a stable kid.”
“It’s a little bit of a cliché, but he’s a Wisconsin Badger-type kid,” Dasovich said. “He’s got a 3.2 GPA. He’s a great kid. I think he’s somebody that the fans are going to really enjoy watching develop.”