In Anthony Kehrer's mind, things were all figured out when he left a recruiting visit to the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team in January.
"I told my dad, I want to be a Badger," said Kehrer, a 15-year-old defenseman from Winnipeg, Manitoba. "Just to see the history and the tradition that Wisconsin has just led me to want to go there."
At the end of the process, Kehrer gave Badgers coaches an oral commitment on Thursday to join the team, likely in 2020. But there were more layers involved than he imagined a few months ago.
Kehrer, one of the top Canadian players in his position and age grouping, was drafted in May by the Brandon Wheat Kings of the major junior Western Hockey League. That's the team he grew up cheering for, and their interest was something for Kehrer and his family to consider.
"When they drafted me, I'm like, 'This is going to be a harder choice than I thought it was,'" Kehrer said. "Because it's two great programs."
He said he attended the Wheat Kings' camp in late August and early September to keep his options open. The NCAA considers major junior teams to be professional, but participating in their preseason camps is allowable as long as the prospect doesn't accept expenses, which Kehrer said he didn't.
Since he returned from that camp, Kehrer and his family worked on determining what they thought was best for his future.
"We all picked Wisconsin," he said.
Kehrer was the second 2002-born defenseman to commit to the Badgers in as many days.
On Wednesday, Altoona native Daniel Laatsch committed after making a recruiting visit. Three other players born in 2002 also have committed to play for UW as early as 2020: forwards Isaac Novak and Tanner Latsch and defenseman Casey Roepke.
Kehrer, a right-handed defenseman who's listed at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, plays on the Midget Prep team for the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy, a program that includes academics and athletics.
With the Bantam Prep team last season, Kehrer scored four goals and added 23 assists in 29 games.
Hockey scouting site Neutral Zone gave him a "B" grade for his age group worldwide after he played for Western Canada in the World Selects Invitational last May. Scouts lauded his speed and acceleration and noted his good puck-handling ability.
Kehrer said he's an all-around defenseman.
"My game is pretty simple: Get the puck out and then join the rush and help create chances in the offensive zone," he said.
Kehrer said he also had interest from Northeastern, Omaha, Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth.
The experience of UW coaches, especially defensive specialist and associate head coach Mark Osiecki, was a "massive" factor in Kehrer's decision to commit to the Badgers, he said.
"I just feel so comfortable with them," he said. "And I think they're going to get me to where I want to be, and that's the next level and being a professional."