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Onalaska's McGrath commits to NCAA Division I North Dakota

08/06/2020, 1:30pm CDT
By Mark Miller

Gavin McGrath

Gavin McGrath, a 6-foot-10 post player from Onalaska, believes he has found the right fit for his collegiate basketball and academic experience. 

In fact, McGrath strongly feels accepting a scholarship offer from North Dakota coach Paul Sather is without question his best choice.

"The school has great coaches ... I really like the coaches in the basketball program at North Dakota," said McGrath, who gave a verbal commitment to attend the NCAA Division I school today. "It's a great fit for me. In fact, I definitely know it's my best option. They really work hard with their big men to develop their games."

Ranked No. 13 among class of 2021 prospects in the state in the Player Rankings, McGrath selected North Dakota over other Division I offers from IUPUI and SIU-Edwardsville. He also had a Division II offer from Northern Michigan. 

"I know some people who attend North Dakota and they said they really liked it at the school," McGrath said. "I reached out to (former La Crosse Logan star) C.J. Siegel and he said he loved it at the school."

McGrath is competing with the Wisconsin Playground Club -- UAA squad this summer and has turned consistent, if not spectacular, performances while going up against some outstanding competition. 

In addition to playing against other talented big men in club events, McGrath says he has benefited from going up against teammates Cade Meyer (6-8) of Monroe and Brock Heffner (6-7) of Grafton in Playground practice sessions. 

"My defense has improved the most since the start of the club season," McGrath said. "I think I am guarding the post much better and even going out on the perimeter to guard a little bit. Going up against guys like Cade and Brock in practice has definitely helped me."

An honorable mention all-Mississippi Valley Conference selection as a junior, the 200-pound McGrath averaged 6.0 points and 6.0 rebounds for Onalaska, which went 23-2 and won the league title with an unbeaten record. 

McGrath, who has shown the ability to step outside and make three-point shots this summer, also blocked 57 shots (2.5 bspg) for coach Craig Kowal and the Hilltoppers. 

McGrath's offensive production figures to improve this season as three of the top six scorers from last year's Onalaska squad have graduated, including Minnesota State Mankato recruit Tyrell Stuttley (14.2 ppg) and Winona State recruit Carson Arenz (13.3 ppg). 

"Gavin has been an absolute difference maker defensively at the high school level and I believe he will have the same impact at the next level," Kowal said. "Offensively, his soft touch and ability to step out and make perimeter shots translates well also. He will have to continue to add weight and get stronger, which with big kids often takes a little big longer."

North Dakota competes in the Summit League and went 15-18 overall and 7-9 in league play last season, Sather's first as head coach at the school. 

McGrath is the fourth player from Wisconsin's class of 2021 to commit to a NCAA Division I program, joining Racine St. Catherine's Tyrese Hunter (Iowa State), Waukesha West's Cam Palesse (Valparaiso) and River Falls' J.T. Dougherty (Army). 

For the latest and most up to date boys' basketball news and recruiting information, follow Mark on Twitter @wisbbyearbook. Email story ideas, recruiting info, etc. to Mark by clicking here.

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