Mick Messner lives about 10 blocks from the Kohl Center and describes riding his bike to watch the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team play its home games.
Messner grew up in a household where UW athletics is a passion. His grandfather, Gary, was an All-Big Ten Conference guard and captain of the Badgers football team in 1954. His aunt, Sara, was a four-year letter-winner for the women’s swimming team from 1989 to ’92 and also served as captain.
So when Mick was offered an opportunity to skate for the Badgers, the sophomore winger at Madison West High School seized upon it. Two months after getting a scholarship offer from UW coach Mike Eaves, Messner called Thursday and accepted.
“My family, we’re a bunch of Badgers,” Messner said Friday, explaining his rationale. “Also, just the program (itself) — its NHL prep and its history of winning and great coaching.”
Messner said he took unofficial campus visits to Providence, Western Michigan and Yale before deciding to commit to the Badgers.
“Wisconsin was just a better fit for me,” he said. “I felt the time was right and I knew this was the place where I wanted to go.”
NCAA rules prohibit Eaves from commenting on recruits until they sign a National Letter of Intent.
Messner, who will turn 16 in April, is regarded by some talent evaluators as the top 1999-born prospect in the state.
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, he has 13 goals in 19 games for the Regents this season. He also plays for Team Wisconsin.
Messner plans to play junior hockey at some point between now and his arrival at UW, which would be 2017 at the earliest.
“I need to dominate at the junior hockey level before I can come to Wisconsin,” he said.