January 5, 2009

UW has strong interest in Wolves' program

&prWith news late Sunday night that 2011 small forward Devon Hodges had given his verbal commitment to the Wisconsin coaching staff, Badger fans were beginning to compile a sophomore wish list, a group that could potentially be filled by four members of the Illinois Wolves AAU basketball program.

During the Christmas holiday, head coach Bo Ryan and assistant coach Howard Moore extended what was to believed to be the first three scholarships to the current sophomore class.

The trio of offers all went to members of the Wolves: Hodges, a 6-foot-9, 200-pound left-handed small forward, Chasson Randle, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound combo guard with multiple offers and Nnana Egwu, a 6-foot-9 center that is just beginning to scratch the surface in his development on the court.

Randle, who could fill a huge need in the backcourt for Wisconsin in 2011, was in town this past weekend when the Badgers defeated Penn State, 65-61, Saturday afternoon at the Kohl Center.

"I loved everything about it," Randle told BadgerBlitz.com Sunday night. "Speaking with Coach Ryan, and the game itself was simply amazing. It was a great game. The guard-play from both teams was impressive.

"And, yeah, I loved it."

With offers currently on the table from Wisconsin, Illinois, Bradley, Indiana, Iowa and Iowa State, Randle is in the thick of his recruitment.

"It's going real well," Randle said in regards to recruiting. "I'm just enjoying it right now and having fun. I'm trying to focus on having fun and enjoying my high school career. The recruiting process is going well for me."

Though many feel Randle is a strong Illinois lean, Badger fans can take comfort in the fact that distance will not play a role in his decision and he is currently without a frontrunner.

"I don't have any favorites right now," he said. "From where I live right now, Illinois is just as far as Madison. It's about the same distance. There really isn't any difference in drive time. Being close to home isn't a huge factor as long as I'm happy."

As for keeping the Wolves, a program that has already produced Badger signee Diamond Taylor, together: "We are all pretty cool," Randle said. "Any time we see each other we'll be giggling and stuff like that. Yeah, we're all cool. There is the possibility I could play with those guys for four years in college (at Wisconsin) and that would be nice."

In addition to the three mentioned, Wisconsin has also expressed interest in Will Sullivan and Jacob Williams, two more members of the Wolves' 15-under team.

More from Randle:

We don't know a whole lot about Hodges or Egwu. Could you talk a little bit about those guys? You've played with them, how would you describe their game?

Randle: Yeah. Nnana, man he's tall. He's like 6-foot-9. Inside he's a monster. He blocks shots and rebounds well. He can finish at the rim though, too. Devon Hodges, he's probably 6-foot-6. He's a real strong guy and likes to finish at the rim. I'd say he rebounds just as well as Nnana. They are both real explosive players.

For some of us who don't know too much about you, could you give us a brief description of your game? Would you consider yourself a point guard?

Randle: Well, I see myself in between. I can play both point guard and shooting guard. So, I'd consider myself a combo guard.

Switching gears a little bit, how is your season going thus far?

Randle: Not really as planned, but we're 8-5 right now. We've been in every game and lost a couple close ones. Overall, I'd say we are on the rebound right now and bouncing back. Currently we're on a three-game winning streak. Hopefully this season will turn around for us.

How about from an individual stand point? Do you feel your game has grown from a year ago?

Randle: Oh man, right now I feel as though I'm at a high point in my career right now. I'm coming off a 37-point game. Yeah, it was a 37-point, 10-rebound night. So I'm feeling really good right now. Individually I feel I'm playing real well. However, it only matter if you get the wins. I'm just trying to help my team win.

Do you have any unofficial visits planned in the coming weeks?

Randle: Not yet. I've talked about going up to Purdue next Sunday. I'll probably hit up Iowa State sometime, too.

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