Many high school basketball standouts in Wisconsin go on to big things at the college level and in the pros, and this is our spot to recognize those athletes each week and help you keep up with what is going down on some of your favorite players from the past. If you have alumni news, please send it to Colton Wilson by 6 p.m. on Mondays
The year is 2009 and Wes Matthews is making his professional basketball debut for the Utah Jazz. At the same time, Tyler Herro is just nine years old, developing into one of the best high school basketball players the state of Wisconsin has seen.
Fast forward 11 years and Matthews in his eleventh season in the NBA, currently on the hometown Milwaukee Bucks; who happen to be the best team in the league. Herro is in his first season and helping a young Miami Heat team to a 34-16 record and fourth place in the Eastern Conference Standings.
Wes attended Madison Memorial High School before playing collegiately at Marquette University. Herro went to Whitnall High School and played at Kentucky in college. There are many different similar and parallels between the two. Wes went undrafted in the 2009 draft, while Herro was taken thirteenth overall in this past year's. In his rookie season, Wes averaged 9.4 points per game while shooting 41% from the field, 39% from three, and 83% from the free throw line. Tyler currently averages 13.1 points per game, shooting 41% from the field, 39% from three, and 82% from the free throw line during his rookie campaign.
With Wes being the oldest Wisconsin state alum to be playing professionally, and Tyler the youngest in the professional ranks, they are sitting at different points in their careers. However, for the time being, they are very much traveling the same route. Both are on Eastern Conference and NBA Championship contenders and playing pivotal roles to their team's success. Maybe somewhere down the road, we’ll see a Bucks versus Heat matchup in the playoffs where the two former Badger State high school greats can square off, generation vs generation.
With the talks of greatness, Harrison Cleary etched himself into the record books once again this past weekend. The Oak Creek grad poured in 29 points in Minnesota Crookston’s 77-63 loss to Southwest Minnesota State. In doing so, Harrison became the all-time leading scorer in Northern Sun Conference play with 1,933. Overall, he has 2,658 points in his illustrious four year career.
Unlike Cleary, Max Keefe has had an up and down four year stint at Concordia-St. Paul. He’s started over 10 games in each of his first three seasons. This past weekend, in just his third start of the year, the Germantown High School grad put up 17 points despite an 85-72 loss to Minnesota State-Moorhead. Max has scored in double figures in four of the last five games for Concordia.
Bailey Kale has been a scoring machine all year for UW-Whitewater, despite their underwhelming record. This past week the Warhawks took down UW-La Crosse 65-63 as Kale, a La Crosse Central grad, made clutch shots down the stretch. Bailey finished with 18 points, including a go-ahead-for-good jumper with 34 seconds left. He was named the WIAC Player of the Week for his clutch performance.
St. Norbert College picked up a pair of wins in Midwest Conference play as New Holstein’s Nolan Beirne had the best weekend of his collegiate career. First in a 109-79 win over Grinnell College, Nolan had 32 points and 13 rebounds; both career highs. He followed it up with 17 points and five rebounds in a 77-57 win over Cornell College. Nolan shot 66% from the field en route to being named the Midwest Conference Player of the Week.
Rod Johnson has started all 23 games this year for the Chattanooga men’s basketball team. This past week in a 92-84 win over Samford, the former Sun Prairie grad put up a season high 18 points while adding five rebounds.
Kyle Monroe steals most of the headlines for the Michigan Tech basketball and deservedly so as he has scored and rebounded at an extremely high rate this season. However this past week teammate and Eau Claire Memorial grad Issac Appleby shined brightest on the court despite a pair of losses. In a 68-63 loss to Northwood College, Issac had 12 points and 12 rebounds. He then recorded another double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds in a 73-39 loss to Saginaw Valley State.
The Northern Athletic Collegiate Conference has been dominated over the past four weeks by Wisconsin Lutheran College’s Andrew Bruggink. The Brookfield Central grad again put up gaudy numbers as Warriors secured a pair of victories. In a 113-86 win over Lakeland College, Andrew had 28 points and seven rebounds. Teammate and Muskego grad Matty Farner had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Andrew then had 31 points and seven rebounds in an 82-72 win over Dominican. Andrew has guided Wisconsin Lutheran to being tied atop the NACC standings and his play was awarded yet again. Andrew was named the NACC Player of the Week for the fourth time this season, and third time in the last four weeks.