President drops in on Badgers hoops team

MADISON, Wis. — The persistence of one University of Wisconsin men’s basketball player to meet the President paid off Thursday.

Thanks to the Twitter efforts of Badgers forward Zach Bohannon, the entire team was introduced to President Barack Obama during a private meeting Thursday afternoon. According to the official men’s basketball Twitter account, the team spent five minutes talking basketball with Obama.

Obama was in town to speak later in the day on campus at Bascom Hill. He referenced the basketball team at the opening of his speech, promising to rain jumpers on players when he returned for a game of hoops.

Bohannon, an Air Force transfer, had campaigned on his Twitter account the past two days to convince Obama’s handlers to let the president play pickup basketball with the team. Obama, an avid basketball fan, played pickup with North Carolina’s team in April 2008 while campaigning before his first term in office.

Bohannon confirmed the good news Thursday by tweeting: “We might not get to play pickup, but our team gets to meet THE MR. PRESIDENT (@BarackObama)!!!”

He then tweeted that teammate George Marshall, a Chicago native, was somehow responsible for arranging the meeting, although how is unclear at this point.

Afterward, Bohannon expressed his gratitude.

“What an honor to talk and get a picture w/ President Obama!” Bohannon tweeted. “He even promised to come play with us once the election is over!”

On Wednesday, Bohannon frequently tweeted messages to Obama’s Twitter account, the same day Obama was preparing for the first presidential debate against Mitt Romney. His rapid-fire tweets quickly caught the attention of national media outlets.

Some of Bohannon’s tweets included:

— “Sir, if u want Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes, you’ll come play w/ the #Badgers! The ball (literally) is in your court!”

— “Sir, I know you’re preparing for your debate, but what you can’t debate is how fun playing hoops with the #Badgers would be!”

— “Sir, Wisconsin is a swing state? We can teach you how we run the #Badgers swing offense!”

Just as allegiances are split across the state in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 election, it appears they are on the basketball team as well.

After meeting the President on Thursday, Wisconsin guard Ben Brust tweeted: “What an honor to meet President Obama! That being said (this is my last political tweet) #RomneyRyan2012”

Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.