It might seem as if Halle Douglass was born to be a Badger.
Both of her parents, Billy and Sondra, went to the University of Wisconsin and her older sister Olivia is a UW sophomore. Her brother Jackson is just down Monroe Street as a junior at Edgewood College.
On top of that, Billy Douglass was a guard for the Badgers under Steve Yoder from 1988-92, and the family would frequently attend UW football and basketball games as she was growing up in Lake Forest, Illinois, emerging as one of the top basketball players in that state during her junior season.
Still, she didn’t know whether or not she was ready to commit to UW as she and her parents came to Madison for her official recruiting visit over the weekend.
It wasn’t until after breakfast Sunday with coach Jonathan Tsipis and his staff and her family at the Edgewater Hotel that she knew for sure.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure I was going to commit,” said Douglass, a 6-foot-1½ guard. “I was still considering other schools, but when I went this weekend I knew it was just the perfect fit for me.
“It was just being around all the coaches and how much they cared about me and my family the whole weekend, and the team itself, getting to know them and spending time with them, that really showed me that I want to be around them all the time.
“After breakfast I told my parents that I really wanted to go here and wanted to commit later that day.”
She did so up in the coaches’ office at the Kohl Center, putting an end to a recruiting process that saw her rise from mostly a mid-major prospect to a consensus top-100 player with more than 30 scholarship offers. That group included programs like Purdue, Washington and Colorado and her finalists were UW, Marquette, Minnesota and Illinois.
“There were a bunch of great options out there and so many great coaches that I got to know, so the decision wasn’t easy,” Douglass said. “But ultimately I just had to find the best fit for myself and make sure that I was making the right decision.”
Douglass had a breakout junior season, averaging 16 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.4 steals and 2.5 blocks per game in leading Lake Forest High School to a 27-8 record and the first sectional championship in school history.
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“Halle can completely dominate a game, but she also includes her teammates almost to a fault,” Lake Forest coach Kyle Welhelm told the Lake County News-Sun last spring. “She owns a lot of records. It means a lot to the program.
“But she’s so competitive. She wants to win every drill in practice. If there’s a competition, Halle wants to win it. She stepped up for us in so many different ways in the playoffs.”
Recruiting services and major conference schools took notice. She is ranked No. 67 nationally by ProspectsNation.com and No. 94 by espnW and was listed as the No. 2 recruit in Illinois by Prep Girls Hoops Illinois.
EspnW analyst Dan Olson offered the following analysis after watching Douglass play in May: “Agile guard with versatility on the court; superior size, rebounds and handles in transition game; executes in half-court game with unselfish demeanor, passes with accuracy; catch and shoot 3-point range that extends beyond the arc; cerebral back-court prospect.”
Douglass said she has worked hard to develop her shot, once considered her weakness, and is focused on getting the shot off quicker as she prepares to compete in the Big Ten Conference.
And she can always count on her dad to offer help with her game.
“He’s a huge part of my development,” Douglass said of her dad, who was primarily a backup during his UW career but did start 17 games as a senior.
“We’ll go to the gym a ton, just the two of us,” Douglass said. “He’ll rebound for me and we’ll shoot together and play HORSE all the time. We’ve been playing one-on-one a lot lately. I’ve been beating him recently.”
Douglass said she didn’t really know any of the UW players well until spending time with them this weekend. She also met the other member of the 2020 class so far, 6-2 forward Brooke Schramek of Benet Academy in Lisle, Illinois, who made an unofficial visit.
Douglass said during the recruiting process she had given some thought to charting her own course. But ultimately the family draw to UW won out.
“I like to be close to my family so that’s a plus,” she said. “It just feels like normal and so right. I always have such a good time so it does feel like home.”