Wisconsin Targets Rock the Dells

Sam Dekker (Scout)

On one of the final days to watch summer AAU tournaments, Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan and Associate Head Coach Greg Gard made sure to get one final look at four prospects on their radar at the Just A Game Fieldhouse. The impression that group made will certainly leave a good feeling in their stomachs heading to the Fall.

WISCONSIN DELLS - The last event on a fourth month grind for many AAU programs, the Wisconsin Exposure Classic would suggest some players would be slowing down. Perhaps, but none of those players were on the Wisconsin Playground Warriors. The Warriors cruised to titles in the 16U and 15U division in impression fashion, and it's safe to say that J.P. Tokoto, Sam Dekker and Bronson Koenig had a hand in all of the success.

All three players have been offered by Wisconsin and all three gave Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan and Associate Coach Greg Gard something smile about as they watched courtside. It also signaled to Marquette Coach Buzz Williams and North Carolina Coach Roy Williams that they have work to do.

Williams and Assistant Coach Steve Robinson flew in Friday from Chapel Hill and drove up from Madison to watch Tokoto in action while Williams became smitten with Koenig on Thursday, offering him a scholarship.

Badger Nation publisher Benjamin Worgull offers his insights to the four players Wisconsin has targeted with offers or high interest.

J.P. Tokoto

OK, this kid is pretty good. After struggling at points during the summer in different events, causing the brass at Scout to deduct him to a four-star recruit, Tokoto showed Ryan, Gard, Williams and all the other gathered while he is a national recruit. Rated the seventh-best shooting forward in the country, Tokoto has 12 points, three massive dunks and limited his mistakes in the Warriors 26-point semifinal victory and was even more impressive in the Playground Warriors championship victory, attacking the rim and scoring at will.

Tokoto has a way about him for sure. Measuring at 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds, Tokoto uses his size and length to cut through the smaller traffic and finish around the rim. Tokoto did show his abilities to play from the perimeter, although his shot didn't always agree with him. In the finals, Tokoto was the tallest person on the floor and the most athletic, allowing him to score on aggressive drives to the basket. On one possession, Tokoto accomplish two pretty back-to-back spin moves and a nice dish that made the heads spin of Townline Sports from the Green Bay area.

There's only one criticism with Tokoto – he's not yet a point guard. Running the show for the 16U at parts during the semifinals, Tokoto, at times, played too fast, causing him to lose control of the basketball or get the ball poked away when he ran into traffic. He ended up with roughly four turnovers, but told me after that he's working on his versatility so he can play anywhere from the two to the four in college.

Tokoto is nowhere near a decision or even a top 10, saying he's just enjoying the experience. The same could be said for the standing-room only crowd around him that ooo'ed and ahhh'ed with each spectacular finish.

Sam Dekker

Wisconsin first verbal commit for 2012, Dekker is a solid athlete that Wisconsin fans can easily get behind. He's roughly the same height as Tokoto and can do many of the same athletic moves. He's a very good in-your-face defender with solid range and has a very good inside-outside game, impressive for a player that is still learning how to play in the post.

His range from the perimeter is very good for a big man. In the finals, Dekker nailed two deep perimeter shots, a welcome relief after he struggled from distance in the semifinals. Dekker also consistently crashes the boards, often times getting rewarded for it. On his own miss, Dekker out jumped two defenders and finished the lay up on an off-balanced spin move. He isn't afraid to slam one home either, a trait he demonstrated in the flow of the game and with some acrobatic dunks in warm up, fitting of a slam dunk competition.

The one thing Dekker is lacking is some upper body strength. Dekker is strong with the ball, but he is still quite lanky and will really flourish if adds some weight to his frame. He can handle the ball decent, although it needs some work. A few times Dekker dribbled up court and tried a bounce pass through traffic that ended up getting intercepted.

The best thing about Dekker is that he's gritty and he's a gamer. Many times throughout Friday's action when things didn't go his way, Dekker appeared to shake off a miss or a turnover and come back stronger than the last time. Other than Tokoto, there wasn't a more skilled, athletic player on the court Friday, meaning Wisconsin fans should be excited about his upside and potential.

Bronson Koenig

With the right coaching and a little development, Koenig will be a legitimate Division 1 guard. Bo Ryan already thought so, offering Koenig a scholarship after UW's elite camp, and Buzz Williams thought so Thursday, offering Koenig after his performance in the Dells.

Koenig is a legit pass-first point guard. He shows good touch and some power on his passes, good vision dribble up the court and within his offense and has a smooth shot from the perimeter. In the finals, Koenig showed a touch of speed, grabbing the ball on his own end to lead the break, made a mid-air no-look pass to a cutting teammate and watched as his teammate finished at the rim that began a three-point play. Still, Koenig showed he can score, hitting three-point and mid-range shots off the dribble or off the pass.

Koenig is quick defensively, with quick feet and active hands. More times than not, Koenig forced the opposing point guard to go towards the sideline instead of driving into the middle of the floor or poke the ball free and let his defense set up. It's little things that like that make him the prospect that he is.

He needs to work on his movement away from the ball on offense. A couple times in the Warriors semifinal win over the Wisconsin Blizzard, Koenig would pass the ball and circle the perimeter, watching instead of reacting. Koenig also did not crash the boards consistently, choosing to stay on the perimeter and let the talent of the Warriors interior men do damage. If there's one thing he can do more of is shoot, as he often looked for a teammate instead of taking the open perimeter shot.

On defense, Koenig got caught up in traffic and screens a few times, although for a bounce-pass lay-up on the other end. These are all things that he will approve upon with time and polish. It's hard to believe Koenig is only going to be a sophomore at La Crosse Aquinas, which has people excited, seeing as he has elevated his level of play over the last four months on the circuit. With him saying he's not going to rush into his decision, expect his offer list to explode by the time next August comes.

Austin Mecca

It was hard to get a real gauge on Mecca, seeing as he did not play a ton of minutes in the semifinals or the finals. Mecca is a good athlete and has the potential to be a good college player, especially with his transition dunk and some good plays around the rim. Mecca needs to add some weight to his frame and improve his footwork. A couple times he was out muscled, but has good vision and looks good in transition. He's not a Big Ten player yet, but can certainly be one down the line.

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