|Posted on December 11, 2015 at 1:30 PM|
Photo via Green Bay Athletics
After a grueling November schedule that saw the Phoenix play 7 games in an 18 day stretch, including 5 of those 7 on the road, Green Bay has finally been able to spend a few days at home. They’ll only play 5 games in the month of December, 4 of which will be in the state of Wisconsin.
The time at home allows the coaching staff practice time and film review with current players but also allows for them to scout and recruit future Phoenix players.
Head coach Linc Darner and his staff have spent the first couple weeks of December recruiting the Midwest, particularly the state of Wisconsin.
When he was hired this past Spring, Darner immediately noted the importance of recruiting the state and re-emphasized the importance when asked by a fan during this week’s episode of “Inside Phoenix Basketball” on WNFL.
“Our first priority is to recruit Wisconsin, Green Bay, the area here,” Darner said Monday. “We want to get kids from the state to want to come to Green Bay and play.”
After landing prized Stevens Point recruit Trevor Anderson for the 2016 class, the Phoenix staff has been aggressively looking at Wisconsin class of 2017 and 2018 prospects.
The coaching staff watched as the Ripon Tigers took down Winnebago Lutheran Academy last Thursday in Ripon. The Tigers are coached by former Green Bay star Dean Vander Plas, who was inducted into the Phoenix Hall of Fame in 2006. Vander Plas played for Green Bay from 1987-1991.
But also on the Ripon team are two players with scholarship offers from Green Bay.
A 6’ 3” point guard, Luke Loewe is part of a two-headed monster that drives the Tigers. He’s scoring 21.2 points per game so far this season to go along with 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.8 steals per game. He is considered the #5 prospect in Wisconsin’s 2017 prep class according to WisSports.net. His bio on the website says Loewe is a “strong point guard who can score, defend and distribute. [He’s] very good going strong to the basket.”
The other piece is Bennett Vander Plas, the coach’s son, who may very well be one of the Phoenix top recruiting priorities. The 6’ 7” wing is filling the stat sheet so far this season with an impressive line of 24.8 points, 13.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 3.2 blocks per game. He is also a capable outside shooter, making 7/13 of his three point attempts (53.8%) so far during this young season. He is listed as the #7 prospect in Wisconsin’s 2017 class according to WisSports.net.
The Phoenix also checked out 6’ 8” big man Will Chevalier, a junior post player at Kimberly who scored 20 points in a 97-92 double overtime loss to Oshkosh North last Friday night with the Green Bay coaching staff in attendance. He followed up that performance with a 27 point contribution in the Papermakers 62-59 loss to Neenah on Thursday night. The Phoenix have shown interest but have not yet offered a scholarship.
Another Northeast Wisconsin prospect the Phoenix have offered a scholarship to is Ryan Kruger, a 6’ 5” guard at Hortonville. He’s averaging 24.3 points per game so far this season, including a 30 point outburst in a 68-63 loss to Cedarburg back on November 28th. His WisSports bio says Kruger is an “outstanding long-distance shooter who can drill shots from well beyond the three-point arc. [He] gets good lift on his jump shot, [and a] strong foul shooter who is working on getting more aggressive taking the ball to the basket.”
Green Bay watched as he scored 16 points Thursday night in a 72-59 loss to Kaukauna, which features another player Green Bay has offered a scholarship, 5’ 11” sophomore point guard Jordan McCabe.
A few other Wisconsin class of 2018 prospects Green Bay has taken a look at include Chris Knight, a 6’ 7” forward at Madison Memorial, Tyrese Haliburton, a 6’ 5” guard at Oshkosh North, and Tyler Herro, a 6’ 2” guard at Whitnall.
While the Green Bay coaching staff has been aggressive in recruiting Wisconsin, they are also busy recruiting other Midwest states like Illinois and Minnesota.
“You try to keep the local talent here, kids within a certain radius, but then also you have to expand your recruiting,” Darner said. “You’ve got to go where you have connections.”
One of the higher priority 2017 out-state prospects seems to be 6’ 6” wing Nana Akenten from Bolingbrook, Illinois. Green Bay has extended a scholarship offer to him as well as to two Chicago prospects: Elijah Joiner (6’ 3”, Curie HS), and Manny Patterson (6’ 8”, Kenwood Academy). GB watched Patterson on Thursday night as Kenwood defeated Hyde Park, 61-55.
The Phoenix have also extended scholarship offers to two Twin Cities area prospects in Minnesota’s class of 2017: Trae Berhow, a 6’5” forward from Watertown, MN and Nathan Reuvers, a 6’ 9” power forward at Lakeville North.
“The Midwest has been very good to me and my staff,” said Darner. “Coach [Randall] Herbst has ties, he’s been at Omaha, he’s recruited Minneapolis very well. “
Green Bay has at least 6 scholarships available for class of 2017 prospects. It will be interesting to see how Darner and his staff choose to fill those vacancies and if they decide to grab all high school players or choose to mix in prep players along with JUCO and Division I transfers.
The Phoenix have 3 available scholarships for the class of 2018. So far they have offered scholarships to four prospects, all in-state: McCabe and Herro as well as John Diener (6’4”, Cedarburg) and Jack Plumb (6’ 8”, Bay Port).
“We’ve got to go to different areas,” Darner said, “but first and foremost we want to recruit the state.”