Scholarship offers from more Division I college basketball programs were coming. Riley Dearring could sense it from the way he’d been playing on the summer AAU circuit.
Illinois and Clemson were close to offering. Wofford and Santa Clara were, too. If Dearring waited out the July evaluation period, he figured maybe a dozen more schools would express interest in his talents.
“He would have had probably a whole handful of offers,” said Tom Dasovich, Dearring’s coach at Minnetonka (Minn.) High School.
Despite the temptation of having multiple suitors, Dearring wasted little time in making his college choice.
The 6-foot-5 guard from the Minneapolis area verbally committed to the University of Wisconsin program last Thursday, just a few days after being offered a scholarship at an AAU tournament. He becomes the Badgers’ second commitment in the Class of 2013 alongside La Crosse (Wis.) Aquinas guard Bronson Koenig.
“I felt Wisconsin was the right fit, so there was no point in trying to wait it out,” said Dearring, who also had scholarship offers from Drake and Illinois State. “I like that they have a winning program, a good history. They have great coaches. They’re really about developing their players. I feel like that’s somewhere where I could really flourish. That’s what I like the most.”
According to his coach, Dearring is the prototypical player for Badgers coach Bo Ryan’s system. Wisconsin’s swing offense requires that players understand and can play different positions on the floor, and the same holds true for the Badgers’ defensive principles.
“He’s skilled enough to do multiple things,” Dasovich said. “I think he can defend a couple positions. He’s really kind of a system kid where I think he’ll be able to make good cuts, set good screens, knock down jump shots and fit the mold of what Wisconsin basketball has become.”
Offensively, Dearring possesses an excellent 3-point shot. He said he would like to improve on ballhandling and passing, as well as strength to compete in the physical Big Ten. Despite being 6-5, he weighs roughly 175 pounds.
“The thing I probably do best is defend,” Dearring said. “I’m fairly versatile, so I can defend multiple positions from the one all the way to the four. I just feel like that’s what I can bring most.”
Dearring can officially sign his National Letter of Intent in November. And he’ll become just the latest in a long list of high school basketball players from Minnesota to play at Wisconsin.
Last season, the Badgers started three players from Minnesota: point guard Jordan Taylor, center Jared Berggren and forward Mike Bruesewitz.
Bruesewitz, from St. Paul, also happened to play for Dasovich at Henry Sibley High School before Dasovich moved to Minnetonka in 2010. Dearring said he knew Bruesewitz from playing open gym together in the Minneapolis area and sought his advice on Wisconsin’s program.
“I talked to Mike and he just gave me the rundown and told me how things would be, just to keep my head on the right track,” Dearring said. “He said he really liked it and he thinks I’d like it, too. I think he was right, 100 percent.”
Last season, Dearring averaged 14.5 points and 5.5 rebounds for a Minnetonka team that finished 19-9 and lost in the second round of its section playoffs.
Dearring is attending his third high school in the Minneapolis area. He played his freshman season at Hopkins High School before transferring to DeLaSalle High School as a sophomore. But a tornado tore the roof off his family’s home last summer, and the family moved into the Minnetonka school district for his junior year.
“Riley’s a really solid kid, a very personable kid,” Dasovich said. “He’s a really good student despite switching schools. With transfers, sometimes it can be tough on kids academically. He has a 3.2 GPA. He’s just a really solid, high-character, hard-working kid that’s going to continue to get better and better.”