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A look back at Wisconsin’s 2007 recruiting class

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Jon Leuer highlighted a prototypical Wisconsin class

Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

For all the rankings and projections that go with recruiting, it can also be fun to look back at past classes. Ten years ago seems like a good place to look, and the class of 2007 provides a strong example of the success Wisconsin has had in finding guys that fit their system and allowing them to grow into their roles.

Bo Ryan and the Badgers welcomed Tim Jarmusz, Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil to campus in the fall of 2007. The trio brought some buzz, as Leuer and Nankivil were both ranked in the top 100 of the class, while Jarmusz was a three-star recruit.

Nankivil and Jarmusz were big names in Wisconsin throughout their high school careers. Nankivil helped lead Madison Memorial to four state tournament appearances, including winning a title as a sophomore in 2005. The 6-foot-8 big man was also named Wisconsin’s Mr. Basketball and AP Player of the Year in 2007 after averaging 16.8 points, 11 rebounds and 6.8 blocks per game.

The 6-foot-6 Jarmusz also did a lot of winning in high school, winning two state championships at Oshkosh West, including beating Nankivil’s Memorial team in the title game in 2006. Jarmusz was named Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year after averaging 16.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game as a senior.

Leuer came out of Minnesota, which the Badgers recruited heavily at the time. The 6-foot-10 forward out of Orono put up big numbers as a senior, averaging 23.2 points and 12 rebounds per game. Wquinton Smith, a point guard from Milwaukee, later joined the class after an open tryout was held in the fall of 2007.

Jarmusz, Leuer and Nankivil had diverse skill sets set them up to be the future frontcourt at Wisconsin. However, like nearly every freshmen class under Ryan, the group had to wait their turn on a 2007-08 Wisconsin team that swept the Big Ten Conference regular season and tournament championships and reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.

That team had plenty of veteran depth, led by Brian Butch, Michael Flowers, Trevon Hughes and Marcus Landry. Leuer carved out a small role, appearing in 32 games and averaging 2.9 points per game.

With the graduation of big men Butch and Greg Steimsma, Leuer and Nankivil both saw their playing time increase significantly as sophomores. Nankivil made 20 starts at center, averaging 4.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 14.0 minutes per game. Nankivil also showed the ability to stretch the floor, shooting 9-for-14 from behind the arc, a skill that would prove to be among his biggest assets.

Leuer started 12 games and was the fourth-leading scorer for the Badgers in 2008-09, collecting 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game on 46.6 percent shooting. Jarmusz also found a role, appearing in every game and averaging 3.4 points in 16.1 minutes per game as a steady hand off the bench.

Leuer took the classic junior jump in 2009-10, leading Wisconsin with 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. The honorable mention all-Big Ten pick shot 52.2 percent from the floor, but missed nine games with a wrist injury.

Nankivil, who started every game that season as the Badgers went 24-9, averaged 8.1 points and 4.7 assists per game. Jarmusz entered the starting lineup as a junior, starting 27 of the 33 games but often struggling with his shot, shooting 30.9 percent from the floor on the way to averaging 2.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.

As seniors in 2010-11, Leuer, Nankivil and Jarmusz led Wisconsin to a 25-9 and reached the Sweet Sixteen for the second time in their four-year careers. Leuer was one of the best players in the country that year, named an honorable mention AP All-American and a first-team all-Big Ten selection by the conference coaches.

Leuer paced the Badgers with 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, shooting 47.0 percent from the field, 37.0 percent from the 3-point line and 84.3 percent from the free-throw line. Leuer and point guard Jordan Taylor (18.1 points per game) combined to score 53.6 percent of Wisconsin’s 67.9 points per game. Leuer finished with 1,376 career points, including 621 points as a senior, the third-highest single-season total in Wisconsin history.

Nankivil was Wisconsin’s third-leading scorer in 2010-11, averaging 9.7 points, including 12.1 points per game in Big Ten play. He was a consensus honorable mention all-Big Ten pick, adding 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game while also shooting 45.7 percent from behind the arc.

Jarmusz remained a steady hand on the wing, starting 21 games and averaging 3.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game while committing just 12 turnovers on the season. Smith appeared in 44 games during his career with the Badgers, including 26 games as a senior.

It was a reliable group with no redshirts or transfers, as all four guys spent exactly four years with the Badgers before moving on. While Nankivil and Jarmusz both spent time playing professionally in Europe, Leuer continues to represent Wisconsin in the NBA. Selected 40th overall by Milwaukee in the 2011 NBA Draft, Leuer spent a year with the Bucks before being traded to the Grizzlies.

After spending time with Cleveland and Memphis, Leuer began to play his best ball when he joined Phoenix in 2015-16, averaging 8.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.

His numbers continue to go up, as 2016-17 was his best year yet after signing a four-year contract with the Detroit Pistons. Leuer started 34 of the 75 games he appeared in this year, setting careers highs with 10.2 points, 1.5 assists and 25.9 minutes per game.

Wisconsin’s 2007 recruits left their mark and played a big part of Wisconsin’s consistent tradition that eventually led to back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2014 and 2015. The group compiled a 104-36 record and qualified for four NCAA Tournaments, including two Sweet Sixteens.