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Prep hoops recruit feature

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by wisportswriter, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. Another old one, from this past winter. All comments welcome.

    UW's rising star
    Bohannon - prize recruit, Linn-Mar standout - has UW fans excited
    There were hordes of red sweatshirts meandering around Wahlert Gymnasium during a prep boys basketball game on Jan. 27. Even though the Golden Eagles' colors are blue and gold, that wasn't necessarily odd, since visiting Linn-Mar's school colors are red and black.
    But not all of the red shirts bore the Lions' insignia. Some of them had 'Wisconsin' plastered across the front. And that was a bit odd.
    On that night, a few University of Wisconsin basketball fans made the trip across the river to see a young man they've been hearing an awful lot about lately: Linn-Mar senior guard and UW recruit Jason Bohannon.
    They picked the perfect night.
    Bohannon was magnificent, scoring 36 points, including 13 in the final 3:21 as he almost single-handedly led his team back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to a thrilling 69-68 victory over Wahlert. Bohannon even made the game-winning shot, a layup with 14 seconds left.
    In one night, one game, 32 minutes of action, those UW fans in Wahlert Gym got to see Bohannon at his best - draining deep 3-pointers, driving to the basket with force and finishing around the rim, making plays with the extra pass and on defense - In other words, a tremendous all-around performance, the kind he has delivered so many times this season.
    Badger Nation is worked into a frenzy over this kid from Marion, Iowa, and anybody watching that night in Wahlert Gymnasium now knows why: Jason Bohannon - who returns to Dubuque tonight to face Senior - is the real deal.
    "He's a big-timer," Wahlert coach Tom English said after that game. "He's impossible to stop."
    * * *
    The courtship of Jason Bohannon was an interesting one, dating way back to the summer between his freshman and sophomore seasons. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan was the first to contact Bohannon, and shortly after many suitors followed.
    By the summer between Bohannon's junior and senior years, Wisconsin, Iowa, Stanford, Northern Iowa and Vanderbilt had all offered scholarships, but UW, Iowa and Stanford were his finalists.
    Some Hawkeyes fans felt they had a lock on this stellar kid, who led Linn-Mar to an Iowa Class 4A (large schools) state championship in 2004 and state runner-up finish in '05. After all, he was the son of Gordy Bohannon, who quarterbacked the Hawkeyes to a share of the Big Ten football title in 1981 and a berth in the '82 Rose Bowl.
    Now some of those Iowa fans occasionally give Jason Bohannon a little grief. He just shrugs it off.
    "You just have to deal with it," he said. "In the Big Ten it's going to be 10 times worse."
    It did, however, take a coach with deep Iowa ties - Wisconsin assistant Gary Close - to pluck Jason from his home state. Close was a long-time assistant under Dr. Tom Davis, including 13 seasons in Iowa City. Close has been on Ryan's staff at UW since 2003, and was Bohannon's main recruiter.
    "Coach Close, I got to know him pretty well," Bohannon said. "That played a big part of (the decision)."
    Close knew Bohannon's was a difficult choice.
    "I think it was very tough," Close said. "His dad had a great experience at Iowa. Heck, I had a great experience at Iowa. I know what a terrific place it is, what a great program they have."
    Chris Robertson, who is in his first season as Linn-Mar's head coach, could tell from a distance that Close's efforts were key in Bohannon selecting UW.
    "Coach Close worked really hard at recruiting (Bohannon)," Robertson said. "I just think it came down to ... I really think it was the coaching staff."
    And the right fit, apparently. Whenever Bohannon talks about the reason he opted for Wisconsin, he always talks about the right fit, as if he had just discovered the perfect pair of blue jeans.
    "I just felt most comfortable there," Bohannon said. "It was a lot of different things: the coaches, the players, the commitment up there to academics A lot of things made it feel like it was the perfect place.
    "And Coach Ryan is one of the best coaches in the Midwest, in the country, and I'd love to play for him."
    Bohannon made his final decision a bit earlier than he had planned, in part because of UW's recruiting situation last summer. Reports out of Madison at the time were that UW had two scholarships available and had offered to three guards: Bohannon, and a couple of stars from southeast Wisconsin, Trevon Hughes and Jerry Smith. The first two to accept, the reports said, would become Badgers.
    "I paid attention to it," Bohannon said. "I didn't want to miss out on something I wanted that bad."
    But Bohannon was never pressured by Ryan or his staff for a decision.
    "They never tried to push for a commitment early," Bohannon said. "They said, 'Do it on your own time.' That was something I liked. They didn't push for a decision I wasn't ready to make."
    Bohannon was the first of the trio to commit, last May. Smith eventually chose Louisville, and Hughes opted to join Bohannon at UW.
  2. * * *
    What makes Bohannon a Big Ten-caliber recruit is the evolution of his game. He was known primarily as a shooter when he burst onto the scene as a sophomore, but since then has become a true all-around threat.
    "He's really developed into a very complete player," Robertson said. "Two years ago he was a shooter, and everybody knew him for his 3-point shooting.
    "He's just gotten, physically, so much stronger, so much more explosive. He goes to the basket so hard and can finish around the basket. Probably his biggest step this year has been defensively, and his rebounding.
    "He's pretty much doing all the little things for us right now. And he can still shoot it. He hasn't lost that."
    He certainly hasn't. Bohannon's jumper has instructional video form and satellite range. What makes it even more deadly is defenders must also respect his ability to put the ball on the floor.
    "We liked him for a lot of reasons, from the type of kid he is to the skills he has to his competitiveness to his leadership qualities," Close said. "Obviously some of the skills he possesses in terms of shooting, and he's just gotten better and better."
    Bohannon has improved so much that, at the prep level at least, he is able to completely take over a game, just as he did in the final 3 minutes that night against Wahlert. It's a trait not lost on the UW coaching staff.
    "He's not afraid to put his game on the line, to take the big shot. He's not afraid to fail, because he's confident he won't," Close said. "That's not something you teach. That's something you've got. He likes that environment, which is good to see."
    Brad Kemp got an up-close look at Bohannon's game that night. The Wahlert guard had the distinct pleasure of guarding Bohannon, and Kemp came away impressed.
    "He plays so hard on the offensive end. He's going 100 miles per hour all the time," Kemp said. "He never gives up, and he seems to do it night in and night out. He took them on his back ... and took them to victory.
    "He's a great player. He's just unbelievable."
    That's what people keep saying, and what Wisconsin fans keep hearing.
    It's the kind of hype that has brought Wisconsinites across the river to Dubuque in the dead of winter, and has those same fans looking forward to seeing Jason Bohannon cross the other way and trade in his Linn-Mar red and black for Wisconsin cardinal and white.
  3. Looking back, I already see a couple things I'd change, including a bad habit I apparently have of telling readers something is interesting and/or inspiring instead of letting the story do it. (Thanks, jgmacg.)
    I also don't like my lead and would probably do something different.

    Anyway, fire away.
  4. slowcenter

    slowcenter Member

    I think you have so many quotes, that you probably could have written your story without using all of them. Sometimes, you can pull the story along to where you want it to go by paraphrasing some of the material you have in quotes. It also lets your writing voice have more of a presence.

    I'm a big fan of getting quotes, don't get me wrong. I just think if you use too many, it begins to sound like a transcript of an interview, or several interviews.

    All in all, an effective job. You obviously did the reporting.
  5. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    Not to say quotes don't have their place, but most of the times, as a writer, it's your job to write it better than they say it.
  6. Thanks much to all for the input.
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