The school year is starting to rev up and that means the high school season for most is less than two months away.  Each state has a number of potential breakout type players or X factors in the recruiting landscape so to speak and Wisconsin is no different.  Today we look at ten X factors from the Badger state that may either play a huge factor in altering the recruiting landscape and/or play a big factor in their school’s state championship aspirations this upcoming season…

Note – Listed in alphabetical order

Malik Abdul-Wahid – 2020 – SF – Brookfield Central
As defending state champions go, Brookfield Central comes back looking to defend with most of their core group returning.  That being said replacing the stellar play of Cole Nau won’t be an easy task but they have a lot of tools in the shed to make it work.  One of those talented pieces is this senior wing whose play really elevated this past summer.  A plus length versatile athletic wing, Wahid will be asked to play an even larger role this upcoming season and for Central to repeat he will need to be a consistent force for the Lancers.  Already holding some D2 offers, he’s one who’s far from a finished prospect and his best basketball lies ahead.

Shilo Bowles – 2020 – F – West Allis Central
Last year Central made a surprise run to Madison and although they’ve lost some solid senior leadership and production, they also return some younger prospects and Bowles.  A talented forward who continues to take steps forward in his development, Bowles will need to take the next step as a player in terms of his production for Central to have similar success this upcoming season.  Really like certain things he brings to the table.  A late blooming prospect who’s garnering some D1 and D2 looks right now, Bowles is one of the better prospects left on the board in the 2020 class and he looks primed for a big year.

John Lovelace – 2021 – F – Wauwatosa East
Tosa East returns a solid core group from last season and while record wise they didn’t have a great year, sometimes you have to build a bit and take those lumps.  This year they have 3-4 guys return that all made substantial contributions last year and have the ability to elevate to another level.  Lovelace is one of them as he’s a talented athletic wing with an ability to finish at multiple levels.  His potential versatility and fill the box score production will be necessary for them to completely get things turned around.  As far as prospects go, Lovelace is one of those potential sleepers who could really take a leap in the same sense that Malik Abdul-Wahid of Brookfield Central did last year.  One to watch closely.

Jake Buchanan – 2020 – PG – Kimberly
A recent commit to Rockhurst, Buchanan has quietly gone about the business of becoming a quality basketball player and he’s now a scholarship one as a result.  Kimberly has big plans this season as they return a loaded group with Buchanan at the helm.  He handles it, he makes shots, he’s smart, and he’s a solid overall leader that makes everyone better.  For Kimberly to get to where they want to get to this season the consistency of Buchanan will be a big factor in it.  He landed at the perfect level for his game with the Rockhurst commitment and you can expect him to continue to develop with a strong senior campaign.

Kobe Johnson – 2021 – PG – Nicolet
Last season Nicolet ran through the Division 2 landscape and this year while Jalen and Jamari have moved on to IMG and Oak Hill respectively, the Knights return a couple of talented 2021 prospects.  Kobe Johnson is one of them and the starting lead guard for the state championship team last year will have an opportunity to paint his landscape so speak this upcoming season and really let his overall ability and talent show along with others.  Equipped with a solid 6-5 plus length frame, handles, an ability to score, and the court awareness to create in half court sets and in transition, Johnson will be a critical piece in the Knights attack this upcoming season.  A legit Division 1 prospect who already holds a number of offers, look for Kobe to take a big step forward in his progression over the next 8-12 months.

Armani Jones – 2022 – PG – Brown Deer
A few years back Brown Deer hoisted back to back state championships and now with a new man at the helm in Jose Winston the Falcons are looking to return to that glory and they have some pieces inside the program returning that could make that happen if they gel and come together.  While the returnees will be a big factor, transfer Armoni Jones (MAS) could be one of the biggest impact players for them as well.  An ultra-quick lead guard with handles and the ability to score in bunches, Jones is one of the top floor generals in the 2022 class for the state and his quickness is a problem any time he takes the floor.  Now under the guidance of Coach Winston, look for Jones to take a significant step forward this season and in the process help Brown Deer become a serious threat for Division 3 supremacy this season.  

Keonte Jones – 2020 – G/F – Madison East
Last season East looked like they may make a deep run at the Division 1 level but they were tripped up earlier than expected.  This season they have different plans and the play of Jones will be critical in that.  A solid prospect who’s probably a potential steal at the Division 2 level right now, Jones brings versatility and an ability to score at multiple levels to the court.  He can contribute across the board and his ability to do so is intriguing to colleges and should help East be in the thick of things.  He could take a big leap over the next 6-9 months.  

Brandin Podziemski – 2021 – G/F – St. Johns NW Military Academy
A talented guard with an ability to play multiple positions, Podziemski is one of the biggest stock boosters in the 2021 class regionally and he’s on the radar of a number of Division 1 schools at multiple levels.  A legitimate Division 1 prospect who should garner lots of mid and high interest moving forward, Podziemski will be a huge part of the SNJMA attack this upcoming season.  They have a legitimate chance at capturing the state championship and to do so they’ll need a big year from Brandin amongst others.  He has size, athleticism, instincts, toughness, and skill and his ability to score in bunches from multiple levels is among the best the 2021 class in Wisconsin has to offer.  Look for him to continue to elevate as a prospect and expect him to become a big story both on the court as a player and off the court as a prospect over the next 8-12 months.

Carson Smith – 2020 – G – Sussex Hamilton
A legitimate Division 2 caliber prospect with a high level perimeter stroke, Smith returns to Hamilton looking to capture Division 1 state championship honors this season.  With the primary focus for most being the high level production of junior Patrick Baldwin Jr., Sussex Hamilton will need consistent balanced alongside him to capture conference title honors and potential state title honors.  Smith can provide just that as he has a lethal perimeter stroke and a high overall court IQ to deliver consistent production game in and game out.  He is one of the X factors in Hamilton’s attack this season and a stellar campaign from him should not only help Sussex Hamilton reach their goals but Smith will also generate the additional Division 2 looks he deserves.

Tyrell Stuttley – 2020 – F – Onalaska
Onalaska returns a strong team this upcoming season and like the other players and teams mentioned herein they have big expectations for the upcoming season.  The X factor for them could very well be the play of Stuttley who can fill the box score and bring an alpha type mentality to the hardwood in terms of both production and toughness.  I really like his ability to impact the game and whether it’s rebounding, scoring, or just in terms of pure activity and effort, Stuttley is another intriguing prospect who looks the part of a solid Division 2 forward potentially.  He could have a big senior year and if his production is consistently dominant you can expect both Onalaska and Stuttley to see their stock grow substantially.