The Best Class just got better

Demetrius Harris of Mineral Area CC made his commitment to Rob Jeter and the Milwaukee Panthers during his weekend visit to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Tom Enlund of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel had the story in Wednesday’s newspaper.  The commit is an extra feather in the cap of an immensely talented recruiting class.

Harris is 6’7”, 230 lbs. and is reminiscent of Ben Wallace.  I’ve heard him compared to Khyle Marshall of Butler, a bigger and more post-oriented version.

Harris will likely step into the post shoes left open by Anthony Hill, who graduates this spring with a degree in Education.  Hill was the most dominant player in the post among Horizon League players this year, and his absence will be noticeable.  But it’s hard not to get excited about Harris, who looks like he can fill the void in a big way right away.

Looking over the recruiting class, these are the players who will be suiting up in Black and Gold for the first time next season:

Demetrius Harris – The big man from Arkansas is a monster in the post and can knock down the mid-range jumper.  He averaged 3.5 offensive rebounds this season.  This is the kind of post player we were talking about when we said we were one guy away.

James Haarsma – Scored 11 ppg and pulled down seven rebounds as a sophomore in the Missouri Valley.  And that was the MVC minus Evansville, because he played for the Aces!  Played as a freshman with Kaylon Williams, so expect the pair to have a nice rapport immediately.

Evan Richard – This could be the diamond in the rough – relatively unrecruited, his only D-I offer was from Milwaukee.  But he’s a downright nasty scorer – as a senior he dropped 50 in a game at the Al McGuire Center in a holiday tournament – and his defense isn’t far behind.  He may look like a team manager, but the only player on the roster who has the athletic ability and jump-out-of-the-gym hops of Richard is Ryan Allen, who was as close to a highlight reel as the Panthers could get this season.  Richard is a redshirt freshman, but he could be the starting shooting guard – he’s that good.

Shaq Boga – Oh yeah, the highest pursued incoming recruit in Milwaukee history, the Panthers had to beat out four Big Ten schools – five if you include Nebraska – and the best of the MVC to land Boga.  He took more time to think about his commitment after a hard late push by both Minnesota and Purdue, but chose Milwaukee.  He’s an AAU teammate of Bradley Beal and brother of our very own Lonnie, but he’s the future at point guard for Milwaukee.  And if Kaylon Williams has too many games like the championship, the future may come sooner rather than later.  If Williams gets better this offseason, the Panthers will have gone from five years of no point guard in the program to two all-conference quality point guards in one calendar year.

J.J. Panoske – The third-rated Wisconsin high school player in a deep recruiting year?  A few years ago, J.J. would have been the focal point of the team as a freshman.  In 2011-12, Panoske may take a redshirt and live in Steve Felde’s Wonderful World of Weights.  Panoske is a monster waiting to happen, and because of the ridiculous depth of this team, he won’t have to be right away.

Paris Gulley? – It seems that with two point guards, a slew of wings and power forwards, and one big-time center, the Panthers could use a shooter.  Paris Gulley visited over the weekend and will likely commit very soon.  He could be the next guy.

Just take in that recruiting class.

Jeter to Miami? – Don’t bet on it.  All indications I’ve gotten from those close to the situation lead me to believe that coach Jeter will not take the Miami head coaching job if offered.  To me, I think it’s mortgaging the next couple years of high salary for the potential payoff down the road.  Jeter has a very, very talented team coming in next year, and a great season will bring better opportunities down the road.  I know he’ll likely leave in the future for a better job, but Miami isn’t it.

Football? – You all know I’m all about it.  Michael Hunt did is bicentennial UWM column on the topic today, and the answer that Rick Costello gave is the right one – it would be amazing, but we have other things to take care of first.  I will expand upon the future with football – how distant, I don’t know, but I will talk about it soon.

Baseball Stadium? – Rick Costello witnessed his first Panther baseball game today at the Hank, so he got to see first hand the horror stories of the program.  It’s far past time that baseball gets a real home, but in the next couple days I’ll tell you why that place has already been built, and how we get in.

The Interview: J.J. Panoske

J.J. Panoske’s senior season with the Brodhead Cardinals ended abruptly the same night Milwaukee beat Valparaiso in the Horizon League semi-finals.  After the Panthers’ NIT loss to Northwestern, PantherU got an opportunity to talk to J.J. again in the beginning of the off-season.

Panoske will join Milwaukee in 2011-12.

Jimmy Lemke: So, you made it to the conference tournament and the NIT game at Northwestern. How did you enjoy the atmosphere?

J.J. Panoske: Getting to come and watch at the championship game was alot of fun, I brought up a lot of my family and they were really suprised on the turn out. And having so many fans come up to me and welcome me to Milwaukee already made me feel at home. Also, the NIT game was a great atmosphere, a good experience to watch Milwaukee on the road.

JL: The Panthers on the court weren’t the only ones whose seasons were ended with a cruel loss. Your senior season at Brodhead ended with a crushing loss to Clinton. Are you sad to see your high school career end without ever getting to state?

JJP: I was devastated to say the least in the locker room after that game, and it hurt for quite awhile, but I’m ready now to start working hard in the off season to get into college shape.

JL: Clinton held you to just 14 points, which is 10 below your season average. What was it that they did to get you out of rhythm, and what did you learn from that?

JJP: Clinton has a very disciplined defense and it gave me a lot of trouble. But it game me more motivation, I think, to play them a lot tougher in the regional final game.

JL: Obviously you’ve had contact with the coaches in Milwaukee recently. With just a few months left of high school, did they have any advice on how to spend your time preparing for D-I college basketball?

JJP: The coaches told me to work mostly on ball handling and lifting. I get in the gym three mornings a week to work specifically on ballhandling and shooting. Also, my strength class in school is taking care of my weight-gaining situation. I can see improvements from the work I have been putting in.

JL: A lot of the guys come and spend most of their summer in Milwaukee. Part of the reason is because the atmosphere in the city is awesome in summer, but the real reason is that it gives them the edge on meshing as a team before the season. Do you plan on spending some or all of your summer in the city?

JJP: I will most likely be moving in towards the end of June to continue my off season training with the team. Most of my summer will be spent in Milwaukee just getting to know the team and becoming closer.

Shaq, who’s in your ear?

Shaquille Boga, 2011 commitment to the Milwaukee Panthers, has reportedly said that he’ll decide by Wednesday if he wants to sign in the early signing period with Milwaukee.  Northstar basketball talked to Boga, who said he may not sign during the period and could wait until the spring to sign his LOI.

I wrote the first ever Shameless Recruitment towards Shaq in August, shortly after the 6’11” power forward J.J. Panoske made his commitment official.  Panoske signs his L.O.I. today, and the Milwaukee coaching staff is hoping that Shaq’s is just a few days behind.

With the word now that Shaq is wavering, I guess my question is why?  The article has quotes where he reportedly says he feels he can dominate the mid-major level, he wants to play the toughest competition, and he wants to get exposure during college.

Well, that makes me feel better about it.  I know, he’s got a couple reservations about signing, but the Milwaukee Panthers have got them all covered.

For one, the toughest competition comes several times a year.  Out of conference, annual games against Marquette and Wisconsin bring teams that compete for conference championships in the Big East and Big Ten, respectively.  This season, we begin a four-year series with Northern Iowa, who was in the Sweet 16 last season.  Oh, by the way, the national runner-up happens to be in our conference.

With the Horizon League’s ESPN deal coming to a close, the negotiations for a new one, which will cover Boga’s college career, will put conference schools on TV plenty more than the current deal.  Thanks goes to Butler, who advanced to the national title game last year.

We also have the Horizon League Network, which is the envy of almost every league.  While the Big Ten Network puts games on TV constantly, you don’t get every game from every team live.  They just can’t do it.  At the Horizon League, we can.  And the scouts are seeing it.  NBA scouts mentioned being able to see Gordon Hayward most of last season online as important as his run through the NCAA Tournament.

But certainly playing in a mid-major league means your exposure won’t get you to the NBA because your competition isn’t the best, right?  Well, Hayward is far from the only one.

What about Paul Millsap from Louisiana Tech?  By the way, that’s the same LA Tech that put out Karl Malone.  Stephen Curry?  He dominated a low-major conference, but that didn’t stop him from making it to the big show. Jameer Nelson killed the competition at St. Joe’s.  Danny Granger plied his trade at New Mexico.  Jason Thompson?  He went to Rider (ree-der) and now he’s on the Sacramento Kings.  His former teammate, Kevin Martin, is now on the Houston Rockets, but once upon a time he was at Western Carolina.

Here in Milwaukee, we’ve got Andrew Bogut, whose Utah team may be a high-major next season, but for now is Mountain West.  Earl Boykins came out of Eastern Michigan.  Darington Hobson went to New Mexico. Our first round pick, Larry Sanders, went to VCU.

You’re a point guard.  You must know Derek Fisher, captain and point guard of the Los Angeles Lakers.  He’s won five rings, and his time at Arkansas-Little Rock didn’t hinder his ability to do that.  Hell, Lamar Odom and Theo Ratliff went to mid-majors themselves (Rhode Island and Wyoming, respectively).

So don’t worry about the exposure.  The scouts will find you if you’re dominating the Horizon League.

The conference opponent of Minnesota and Iowa, Michigan State, also made the Final Four.  But they lost to Butler.  So is the competition a drop off?  I will never claim, and most people won’t, that the Horizon League is better than the Big Ten.  What I’m saying is that the competition you get in the Horizon League is strong, and Milwaukee plays tough teams in the non-conference.  Schools like Iowa schedule the majority of non-conference games with low-major opponents, so the level of schedule evens out over the season.

I get that these questions asked by North Point are somewhat leading, and Boga’s answers come back to the “slight” possibility that he may not sign this week.

But Panoske’s LOI is inked today.  The future is looking very bright with Kelm, Panoske, Richard, and you, Shaq Boga.  Come make us complete.

Shaq Boga commits to Milwaukee

Boga is the second commit for Milwaukee's 2011 class and the future at point guard for the Panthers has gotten confirmation from 2011 point guard recruit Shaquille Boga that he committed to the Milwaukee Panthers on Saturday.  The Panthers new recruit joins J.J. Panoske as the second commit for what is shaping to be an excellent recruiting class, perhaps the best by coach Rob Jeter and his staff so far.

Boga confirmed the commitment, which comes just over a week before the National Signing Day.  Milwaukee was one of many schools pursuing Boga, who reportedly drew offers from Minnesota, Iowa, Wichita State, Nebraska, Southern Illinois, Missouri State, Bradley and was possibly going to get a scholarship offer from Purdue.

Boga’s brother Lonnie is a current member of the Panthers and no doubt help steer his little brother to Milwaukee.  The 5’10”, 170 lb. senior at McCluer High School in Florissant, Missouri has been pursued by Milwaukee’s coaching staff for quite some time.

Boga is a quick, aggressive point guard who does a great job of keeping in front of his man on defense with lightning lateral quickness.  On offense, he’s a solid passer who sees the floor well.

Wisconsin product headed to Youngstown

Mark Miller of is reporting that Cale Zuiker of Marshfield will be playing for Youngstown State.  He is the latest member of the 2011 class to commit to a Horizon League school.

Zuiker is the 32nd rated senior in Wisconsin by Miller.  He was garnering interest from American, Columbia, Bucknell and Montana.

Milwaukee was not recruiting Zuiker.