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Badgers make next move in 2020 class

Wisconsin Basketball extended its latest offer in the 2020 class last week to point guard Lorne Bowman. Could he become the Badgers’ first commitment?

Good news on the recruiting trail has been pretty difficult to come by for Greg Gard and company over the last few months, with a rough string of failures that dates back to the spring. At this point, it’s pretty clear that Lakeville North (Lakeville, MN) forward Tyler Wahl will most likely be the only member of Wisconsin’s 2019 recruiting class.

The staff now sets its sights on a 2020 class that boasts a handful of prospects the Badgers have already been heavily invested in for months, including Nicolet (Milwaukee, WI) forward Jalen Johnson, Central (La Crosse, WI) guard Jonathan Davis, and East Ridge (Saint Paul, MN) forward Ben Carlson.

Another player Wisconsin has devoted plenty of attention to recently is St. Mary’s (Detroit, MI) point guard Lorne Bowman.

Bowman first put himself on the staff’s radar in earnest with a strong performance at Wisconsin’s advanced camp back in June, and afterward, they made sure to monitor his play throughout the July evaluation period.

It appears as though they have seen enough, as he was back on campus for an official visit last weekend and Wisconsin officially threw a hat into the ring for his services, extending an offer on Friday.

At this time, Bowman has other offers from Iowa, Nebraska, Buffalo, Oakland, Toledo, and Valparaiso. Michigan State and Michigan have also expressed interest.

He may not have five stars next to his name, but Bowman is everything Gard could want out of a floor general and would be an excellent fit for this program. Offensively, he is a great passer and a legitimate three-level scorer, with the penetrating ability to break down a defense and create for himself or teammates.

Bowman is no slouch on defense, either. He’s a hard-nosed defender, and while his 6’2 height is average for the position, he’s got some really long arms that he uses to disrupt passing lanes and pick the pockets of opponents.

All in all, Bowman is a rock-solid, well-rounded floor general, and if Wisconsin can manage to reel him in, he has the makings of a legitimate four-year contributor for the Badgers. However, given the staff’s momentous struggles on the recruiting trail over the last couple of seasons, I’m not going to hold my breath.

Bowman’s recruitment at the moment bears an uneasy resemblance to that of Wisconsin’s former top 2019 point guard target D.J. Carton. Like Carton, Bowman plays his AAU ball on the NY2LA circuit, rather than the more high-profile stages of the Nike EYBL or adidas Gauntlet series, which largely explains why he has been flying a bit under the radar so far. As with Carton, Wisconsin was one of the first high-major programs to get involved with Bowman, which one would expect to be a significant advantage in the battle to earn his signature.

However, we saw what happened with Carton: shortly after Wisconsin offered, other teams caught the scent. He began to blow up, and ultimately the Badgers did not even make his Top 6 list, a stinging, unexpected slap in the face. I’m not saying I anticipate Bowman exploding onto the scene to that extent and emerging as a five-star prospect as Carton did, but nonetheless, I could envision a similar situation playing out. For instance, Michigan State and Michigan are two heavy hitters that have also taken notice of Bowman, and an offer from one or both of those programs could be debilitating to Wisconsin’s chances. I think it’s highly likely that other high-major teams have also been sniffing around as well.

In addition, we should not take his early offers from Iowa and Nebraska for granted. The Hawkeyes, in particular, could pose a challenge: Bowman made the trip from Detroit to Iowa City for an unofficial visit back in October. Unlike with officials, recruits and their families must pay their own way on unofficial visits, so there seems to be significant interest in Iowa here.

Next: Breaking down Wisconsin’s 2018 schedule

That being said, the Wisconsin staff has got to put together a solid 2020 class of “Plan A” recruits and replenish this program with young talent, and to do so will require beating out other high-level programs for targets such as Bowman. This is a recruitment that the Badgers can and should be in until the end, and anything less will only further set off the alarm bells of Wisconsin fans who are questioning the staff’s recruiting ability.

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