MADISON - Seeing one player leave because he picked his school for the wrong reasons, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan decided to award one player who picked his program for the right reasons.
Following the departure of freshman Jarrod Uthoff, Wisconsin decided to put walk-on Zak Showalter – Germantown High’s all-time leading scorer – would be on full scholarships. Showalter announced the news via Twitter on Tuesday.
“Been working for this all my life!” Showalter tweeted. “Hard work really does pay off. Thanking God for this opportunity to play for the #Badgers for FREE!”
Two UW officials confirmed that Showalter would be on scholarship for the 2012-13 season, but said his scholarship in the future would be determined annually - meaning UW will continue to recruit players using Showalter's scholarship going forward.
Showalter – a 6-2 combo guard - averaged 22.1 points per game during his senior season that ended a perfect 28-0 and with a WIAA Division 1 state championship. He decided originally to walk on to Wisconsin over offers from Dayton, Drake, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Missouri State, North Dakota State, Rice and South Dakota State before the start of the season.
“Zak is a really tough, hard-nosed player who just wants to prove he can play with the best,” Ryan said in March. “I've always had an affinity for those types of guys, the ones who just want to prove what they can do if they're given the opportunity.
“Zak picked Wisconsin for all the right reasons. He wants to compete at a high level. He knows his dad played for me, so he knows what kind of a guy I am. He knows I have certain demands. He has no problems with any of that because he had to play for his dad. He will come into the program with the idea that if you work hard, you'll get what you deserve.”
Playing for his father Steve, who was coached by Ryan at UW-Platteville from 1985-89, Zak was named first-team all-state by the AP and Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association each of the last two seasons. Wisconsin’s high interest in Showalter began at the end of the summer evaluation period, when Ryan watched him play in Las Vegas and in the Wisconsin Dells.
"I'm going to work as hard as I can,” Showalter said in April about his UW opportunity. “That has always been the strongest asset of my game."
The decision to give Showalter a scholarship means 12 of UW’s 13 scholarships are taken for next season. Wisconsin has four scholarships available for the 2013 class, one of which is currently taken by La Crosse Aquinas guard Bronson Koenig.