MILWAUKEE — There was no drama on signing day for the Marquette Golden Eagles, as all four top-100 recruits verbally committed to head coach Steve Wojciechowski officially signed letters of intent Wednesday.
Led by one of the top prospects in the nation in Henry Ellenson, Marquette’s four-man class of 2015 is ranked fourth in the country by Scout.com and ESPN.com, fifth by 247 Sports and seventh by Rivals.com.
Three of Marquette’s four signees are from Wisconsin, as Nick Noskowiak (Sun Prairie High School) and Matt Heldt (Neenah High School) join Ellenson (Rice Lake High School) in staying in state. Haanif Cheatham (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) rounded out Wojciechowski’s first class.
"I couldn’t be more excited for my first official class to include these four young men," Wojciechowski said. "I think they represent exactly what we want our program to be about. First and foremost, they are great kids that come from terrific families. They were brought up the right way with the right values.
"They want to be a part of the Marquette community both on and off the court. They have a thirst and a passion for the game of basketball. As we started our journey as a staff leading this Marquette program, we wanted to look for young men who had all of those things."
The prize of Wojciechowski’s first signing class is Ellenson, widely regarded as one of the best prep players in the nation. Ellenson was the final player to commit to Marquette, choosing the Golden Eagles over Michigan State and Duke.
Ellenson is ranked fourth nationally in the class of 2015 by ESPN.com. sixth by Scout.com, 10th by 247 Sports and 17th by Rivals.com.
A 6-foot-10 forward, Ellenson led Rice Lake High School to the WIAA Division 2 state championship game as a junior, averaging 27.2 points, 13.1 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1.7 assists per game.
"I think Henry has a chance to be the national high school player of the year," Wojciechowski said. "He’s a terrific ballplayer. He represented himself and our country really well this summer. He’s taking on all comers and showing that he belongs with the elite high school players in the country.
"The thing I love about Henry is that he truly loves the game. When you talk to him, he’s either heading to the gym or leaving the gym. That bodes well for his success in the future. Like most guys coming into college there will be a learning curve, but combine his talent with his desire to be a great player, I anticipate him making a quick adjustment."
Noskowiak originally committed to Marquette when Buzz Williams was head coach but reopened his recruiting process following the coaching change. It didn’t take Wojciechowski long to get Noskowiak to re-commit to the Golden Eagles.
The 6 -2 guard is ranked No. 70 overall in the class of 2015 by ESPN.com, No. 79 by 247 Sports, No. 90 by Scout.com and No. 95 by Rivals.com.
Noskowiak averaged 23.7 points per game as a junior at Sun Prairie high School, leading the Cardinals to the sectional final and claiming WBCA first team all-state honors. He played AAU basketball for Playground Elite.
"Nick was our staff’s first 2015 commitment at Marquette and since that time has been a great ambassador for our program and representative for the University," Wojciechowski said. "He is a versatile guard who can play both on and off the ball. I love his personality on and off the court, basketball IQ and ability to shoot, which will make him a great addition to our backcourt next season. We are thrilled that he is joining our family."
Wojciechowski’s first out of state commit at Marquette, Cheatham picked the Golden Eagles over Georgetown and California. Cheatham is ranked as the No. 69 overall player in the class of 2015 by Rivals.com, No. 70 by 247 Sports, No. 80 by ESPN.com and No. 81 by Scout.com.
Cheatham, a 6-5 swingman, averaged 26.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.0 steals per game as a junior at Pembroke Pines Charter High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"From the moment I saw Haanif, I thought he was one of the best guards in the country," Wojciechowski said. "I don’t think he’s a guy that can be defined by a position. He’s versatile and has a great feel for the game. I think he’s a guy that’s easy to play with.
"We’re really excited to have him. He’s a guy that can be an impact guy. He too is a gym rat."
A 6-10, 240-pound center, Heldt committed to Marquette in June. He’s ranked as the 57th-best player in the class of 2015 by Scout.com and 93rd by 247 Sports.
Heldt averaged 18.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game to lead Neenah High School to a 26-2 record in 2013-14. He was named first team all-state by the WBCA and second team all-state by the Associated Press.
"While Matt obviously adds much needed size to our program, he is also a versatile frontcourt player with a high basketball IQ and possesses a tremendous desire to improve in every area," Wojciechowski said. "He has been well prepared at the high school level and is a fundamentally sound post player. We believe he will have the ability to play both inside and out during his college career and that his best basketball is ahead of him."
Signing a class ranked in the top five nationally by multiple outlets just seven months after taking the job at Marquette is an impressive feat for a first-year head coach in Wojciechowski.
At Duke, Wojciechowski said he and the other assistants did a lot of the recruiting legwork and would then bring head coach Mike Krzyzewski in to close the deal.
"I think that helped," Wojciechowski said. "I didn’t try to change my approach in recruiting. I tried to recruit like an assistant with daily interactions and building relationships with him, trying to really connect with them and their families."
With Ellenson, Noskowiak and Heldt in the fold, eight of Marquette’s 12 players next season will be from the state of Wisconsin. Wojciechowski made clear when he was hired that he plans to make Wisconsin a priority and has already landed four significant in-state recruits, including current freshman Sandy Cohen.
"Wisconsin will always be a priority for us," Wojciechowski said. "It is a tremendous basketball state. It is obvious that there are outstanding high school coaches and AAU coaches throughout the state who do a great job of schooling these young people in the game of basketball."