Going all the way back to 2015, Green Bay head coach Linc Darner said recruiting kids from the state of Wisconsin to play for the Phoenix was his first priority out on the recruiting trail.
However, the Phoenix have landed just two in-state scholarship players straight from high school since the current regime took over prior to the 2015/2016 season – Trevor Anderson and Will Chevalier – despite a flurry of offers to other in-state prospects over the past few seasons.
It’s true that the staff has been able to land Wisconsinites as transfers, most notably David Jesperson (Pepperdine), Sandy Cohen (Marquette), and Cody Schwartz (San Jose State).
But with the exceptions of Anderson, who left Green Bay to walk-on in Madison, and Chevalier, the Phoenix have struck out in their attempts to land a commitment from in-state talent including Alou Dillion, Luke Loewe, and Bennett Vander Plas in 2017, Carlos Curtis, Mitch Listau, and Derek Sabin in 2018, and Marcus Domask in 2019, all of which committed to mid-major programs similar to Green Bay.
Despite not having much success in landing Wisconsin high school prospects so far, the Green Bay coaching staff continues to recruit the Badger state in hopes of landing their next home-grown contributor.
The Phoenix have extended scholarship offers or shown interest in over a dozen in-state prospects for the 2020 class in which Green Bay has at least five open scholarships to replace outgoing seniors Schwartz, Kam Hankerson, Tank Hemphill, JayQuan McCloud, and Josh McNair.
This summer has also seen the Phoenix offer scholarships to at least four players so far that will be high school juniors next season, three of which hail from the Badger state.
The 2021 crop of players in Wisconsin is “shaping up as a very deep and very talented class” according to Mark Miller of the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook and WisSports.net. Nine players across the state already have at least one Division I scholarship offer including Sussex Hamilton’s Patrick Baldwin Jr. who is the #1 ranked recruit in the country.
Green Bay kicked off the 2021 recruiting cycle by offering a scholarship to 6’5” forward Brayden Dailey, the 4th ranked prospect in the state according to Miller. He averaged 21.3 points per game as a freshman at Mineral Point but quit the team this past January during his sophomore season. He will play for Cuba City as a junior this upcoming season.
“Good perimeter shooter with excellent length,” his WisSports scouting report says. “Can score off the dribble, from the foul line and outside the three-point arc.”
“Talented wing prospect with very good shooting range, excellent length and solid athleticism.”
He currently holds scholarship offers from Green Bay, Missouri State, and Milwaukee according to VerbalCommits.com but has garnered interest from high major schools including Iowa and Wisconsin lately.
The Phoenix have also extended a scholarship offer to 6’1” point guard Ben Nau. The Brookfield native won a state championship this past season with Brookfield Central averaging 9.3 points per game while shooting 37% from beyond the arc.
Nau is a “good perimeter shooter and an intelligent player” according to WisSports and ranked in the top ten in the loaded Greater Metro Conference in three pointers made (47), assists (63), and steals (30) despite being just a sophomore. He is the sixth ranked prospect in Miller’s 2021 state player rankings.
In addition to Green Bay he holds scholarship offers from DePaul, Milwaukee, Miami (OH), and Indiana State so far.
Green Bay’s most recent scholarship offer went to 6’8” forward Cade Meyer. He’s an intriguing prospect who has grown four inches since playing as a 6’4” guard as a freshman at Black Hawk High School. He transferred to Monroe for his sophomore year where he averaged 11.2 points per game this past season.
“Athletic, skilled player who can finish above the rim, take defenders off the dribble and make mid-range jump shots” reads his WisSports player profile. His versatility seems like a natural fit for Darner’s RP40 style in that he can play around the basket or also step out and knock down jump shots.
He “moves well on the court and can play multiple positions,” Miller wrote in April. “He appears most comfortable on the wing, though he can certainly score in the lane as well.”
He is also a solid rebounder according to his AAU coach Ritchie A. Davis. “While he rebounds the basketball at a high level, his ability to rebound out of his area is so important to our team,” Ritchie told WisSports. “He shoots the ball well beyond 15 feet, yet it’s been his willingness to score and rebound in the lane that will allow him to play on a scholarship at the next level.” Meyer and Dailey play for the same AAU club – Wisconsin Playground.
The 8th ranked player in Mark Miller’s 2021 class rankings, Meyer holds scholarship offers from Green Bay and Milwaukee so far.
The lone non-Wisconsinite to earn a scholarship offer from the Phoenix so far is 6’7” forward Kyle Ross from St. John’s, Indiana. Ross led his team in scoring and rebounding as a sophomore this past season and helped his Andrean High School team win its first ever Class 2A state championship.
He averaged 16.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game this past season and was the lone sophomore named to the Northwest Indiana Times’ all-Area first team. He played mostly in the post this season after playing his freshman year and his AAU ball on the perimeter.
At 215 pounds, he has the size to play inside but also showed the ability to knock down the outside shot hitting 45 three pointers this year connecting at a 35.9% clip.
While the scholarship offer from Green Bay is Ross’ first, he has been gaining interest from several high and mid-major programs including Iowa, Belmont, Miami (OH), Ball State, Central Michigan, and nearby Valparaiso.
His brother, Tyler, was recruited by and played for Darner at Florida Southern before Darner left to take the Green Bay job.
The Phoenix have also been linked to Foster Wonders, a 6’5” wing from Iron Mountain, Michigan, and Amar Augillard, a 6’5” forward from Zion, Illinois, though neither prospect has earned a scholarship offer from Green Bay at this point.
There is still a long way to go until signing day 2021 but it’s never too early to start thinking about the future. With at least five scholarships to fill, it is likely the coaching staff will look for a blend of high school prospects, junior college transfers, and maybe even a Division I transfer or two.
Up next in the July recruiting period are the new youth development camps hosted at four universities across the US. According to the NCAA, “the events will provide promising Division I men’s basketball prospects an opportunity to develop their skills while also preparing them for college both as a student and an athlete.” College coaches can attend the camps to evaluate and recruit prospects.
The Midwest regional camp will be held July 23-25 and 26-28 at the University of Illinois. The other three camps will be located at the University of Connecticut, University of Houston, and Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.
According to the NCAA, “the camps will invite as many as 2,400 rising seniors, juniors and select sophomores, with up to 300 high school basketball players competing in each of the eight sessions across the four sites. All expenses for participants and one chaperone – such as a parent or guardian – will be paid by the NCAA.”