Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Greg Gard announced Wednesday that high school seniors Tai Strickland and Joe Hedstrom have signed a national letter of intent to attend the University of Wisconsin and play basketball for the Badgers beginning in the fall of 2018. The duo joins Taylor Currie (Clarkston, Michigan) in the Badgers’ Class of 2018.
Tai Strickland - 6-2, 180, Guard - Tampa, Florida (St. Petersburg High School)
A 6-foot-2 point guard from Tampa, Strickland transferred to St. Petersburg High School after starting for two seasons at Tampa Catholic. Strickland led his teams to the state semifinals in each of his final three prep seasons. As a senior at St. Petersburg, Strickland averaged 17.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game, helping the Green Devils to a record of 24-6. Strickland was named first-team All-Pinellas County and earned Team Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Strickland’s father, Rod, was a first-team All-American at DePaul (1985-88) and spent 17 seasons playing in the NBA for nine teams from 1988 to 2005.
“We are very excited to add Tai to our program,” Gard said. “His commitment to hard work, academics, and achievement at the highest level will be a welcome addition to Wisconsin. Tai’s background and pedigree will give him the tools and the foundation to thrive and succeed at all levels at the University of Wisconsin.
“As a transfer student at St. Petersburg High School, Tai had to fit into a program that was already well-established and set to compete for a state title. His ability to blend in smoothly with the already established talent and to continue to finish strong speaks volumes about Tai’s leadership and personality. Those character traits are what make him the perfect fit for our program. He has already bought into the totality of team and trying to figure out what he can do to help Wisconsin. Our staff was blown away by the high regard his coach, teachers and peers had for him at his high school.
“We are very excited about Tai’s future with us. He is just starting to scratch the surface of his basketball ability and the system we have will allow him to realize his full potential as a collegiate point guard.”
Joe Hedstrom - 7-0, 225, Center - Hopkins, Minnesota (Hopkins HS)
A 7-foot center from Hopkins, Hedstrom will enter the program as a walk-on during the 2018-19 season. As a senior at Hopkins High School, Hedstrom helped the Royals to a record of 26-2 and a final national rank of No. 38. A Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association All-Star, Hedstrom averaged 8.5 points per game as a junior and averaged 12.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game with his AAU team the Minnesota Comets in 2017.
“Joe’s progress as a player has been trending in the right direction since we first saw him several years ago,” Gard said. “The improvements in his game, combined with how successful he has been in the classroom and community told us he was a great fit for what we are all about as a program. Joe impressed us with his understanding of the process of how to have success as a Badger.
“His natural size and strength, combined with a hungry attitude to improve, gives him an excellent chance to really develop and excel in our program. We are thrilled to add such a quality student-athlete to our program and look forward to helping him develop to his full potential.”
via press release
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