To call the 2020 recruiting class a crucial one for Greg Gard and the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball program is an understatement.
Gard and Co. got off to a solid start with that class Friday by landing an oral commitment from Lorne Bowman, a 6-foot-2 guard from the Detroit area.
Bowman, who chose the Badgers from a group of four finalists that included Iowa, Nebraska and Valparaiso, averaged 22.5 points and 4.9 assists last season as a sophomore at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
“He is just getting better and better and better,” St. Mary’s coach Todd Covert said. “He’s got a very high ceiling.”
Bowman’s commitment came two days after Tyler Wahl, a forward from Minnesota, signed a letter of intent to play for the Badgers starting next season. Wahl is the only member of UW’s 2019 class as of now, and it’s likely the program will bank its remaining scholarships for 2020.
Securing a pledge from Bowman is a good start to that group.
Covert was an assistant coach at St. Mary’s when Kalin Lucas was a standout for the Eaglets more than a decade ago. Lucas went on to star at Michigan State, earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors as a sophomore.
“He’s every bit as good as Kalin,” Covert said of Bowman.
Bowman can play either guard spot and can defend multiple positions.
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“He’s got extremely long arms,” said Covert, noting Bowman has a 6-6 wing span. “His body is getting just bigger and bigger and he’s getting faster and faster. He can play the 1, the 2 and the 3 and probably at least guard those three positions. His versatility is what makes him, from a basketball standpoint, in that top echelon.”
Bowman is a good shooter — he shot 40.5 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore — and Covert said he’s good at being physical while attacking the rim.
As for areas in which Bowman needs to improve, Covert singled out off-the-ball movement.
“Kind of just some craftiness that will come with experience,” Covert said. “With the ball in his hands, it’s hard for one guy to guard him. You’ve got to have help on both sides or else he’s going to get you.”
Bowman could have stretched out the recruiting process for another year — or longer — but Covert wasn’t surprised that he ended the process early.
“I think when he sat down with his family and kind of talked about what schools were a good fit for him in the Midwest, Wisconsin was right at the top of the list,” Covert said of Bowman, who also had interest from Michigan and Michigan State but wasn’t offered a scholarship by either of those programs.
“He got invited to a lot of elite camps (over the summer) and Wisconsin was the only one he went to. He really fell in love with it early on and (assistant coach Dean Oliver) did a great job of getting to know him.
“Their attention to detail, it’s pretty high-class. There are a lot of college coaches that come in our gym, and (UW’s) attention to detail, the little things, it separates them.”