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Wisconsin Basketball misses on a top target in 2019 class


Wisconsin Basketball is out of the race for 2019 forward EJ Liddell

Wisconsin Basketball received a big blow to its recruiting efforts in the class of 2019 yesterday.

4-star power forward EJ Liddell (Belleville, IL) released a Top 3 list last night, and the Badgers were taken out of the running for one of their top targets in the 2019 class. 

Liddell had put out a Top 5 list about a month ago that included Wisconsin, along with Illinois, Kansas State, Missouri, and Ohio State. Other schools from his offer list that failed to make that cut included  UConn, Florida, Georgetown, Iowa, Iowa State, Louisville, Marquette, Northwestern, and Texas A&M.

The three programs still standing now are Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio State.

He was scheduled to take an official visit to Madison the weekend of October 6 before removing Wisconsin from consideration yesterday. The Badgers had always been seen as a long shot to land Liddell since entering his recruitment relatively late in the process, but fans were hopeful that a visit to campus could go a long way in making a positive impression on him and his family and make Wisconsin a legitimate contender to secure his pledge.

Liddell’s decision represents another disappointing turn of events for Greg Gard and his staff on the 2019 recruiting front.

The first tough blow of the cycle came when point guard DJ Carton (Bettendorf, IA) spurned the Badgers when he released his top 6 about three months ago. The Wisconsin staff had been among the first to identify Carton’s elite talent and offer him a scholarship. As so often happens with Wisconsin recruiting targets, however,  other schools then caught on and his offer list soon exploded.

Carton has since committed to Wisconsin’s bitter rival Ohio State and is now a 5-star prospect per the 247Sports composite.

In addition, the odds of the Badgers earning commitments from the two biggest targets left on their board look increasingly bleak with each passing day.

As with Carton, Wisconsin expressed interest in 4-star power forward Zeke Nnaji (Hopkins, MN) well before most other programs and have built a strong relationship with him and his family. However, Nnaji’s recruitment has blown up astronomically, best demonstrated by this week’s offer from John Calipari and Kentucky. Other programs in the thick of things include Arizona, Kansas, UCLA, Ohio State, Iowa, Minnesota, and Xavier. Wisconsin is still in this for now but appears to be hanging on by a thread.

Wisconsin also recently extended an offer to power forward Robbie Beran (Richmond, VA), one of the fastest-rising recruits in the country this summer, and had him on campus for an unofficial visit a few weeks ago. However, Beran now has an eye-popping 34 scholarship offers to his name, including from schools such as Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Louisville, Wake Forest, and Xavier.

Wisconsin tends to struggle to emerge victorious in recruitments like this with so many other programs heavily involved, especially with a prospect who the staff has not had much time to build a relationship with. It appears as though the Badgers are fighting a major uphill battle here.

Next: All-time Wisconsin Basketball starting five

It hasn’t been all bad news for Wisconsin in 2019 recruiting, as the Badgers do have a commitment from 4-star small forward Tyler Wahl (Lakeville, MN), a player whose skill set is a perfect fit for the program.  Badger fans should be excited about his potential in Madison.

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