MADISON – Wisconsin coach Greg Gard and his assistants have recruited Minnesota point guard Daniel Freitag relentlessly.
After Freitag competed at a UW camp shortly after his freshman year of high school, Gard knew he had his No. 1 point guard prospect for the 2024 class.
Gard wasn’t deterred by the possibility that Freitag could eventually choose to play football in college.
That early identification late in the spring of 2021 and the staff’s unyielding commitment resulted in Freitag announcing Friday he has committed to UW and plans to make the Kohl Center his new home.
“I chose Wisconsin because the bond I had with coach Gard and coach (Joe) Krabbenhoft and everybody was unmatched,” Freitag said in making his announcement on 247 Sports.
Rene Pulley, Freitag’s AAU coach with Howard Pulley Basketball, loves the marriage.
“I think Wisconsin is a great fit,” he said. “He does everything he is supposed to do.”
Daniel Freitag is also an exceptional wide receiver
Freitag is transferring from Jefferson High School in Bloomington to Southern California Academy for his senior year and plans to focus on basketball. A standout wide receiver, he held an offer to play football for UW and several other schools.
His final five college choices were: UW, Notre Dame, Virginia, Baylor and Minnesota.
Freitag, 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, is UW’s second commitment for the 2024 class. He joins AAU teammate Jack Robison, a 6-7 forward from Lakeville North High School in Minnesota. Robison committed to UW in October and acknowledged he worked hard to steer Freitag to join him in Madison.
UW had the opportunity to recruit a point guard for the 2023 class but Gard remained committed to Freitag.
“They did a really good job recruiting me these last two years and they haven’t offered any other point guards in my grade or in the surrounding grades,” Freitag explained. “So that shows how much trust they had in landing me. Just the trust I have in that staff is what led me to Wisconsin.”
Chucky Hepburn, Freitag could be paired together at UW in 2024-25
Starting point guard Chucky Hepburn is set to be a junior next season and it’s conceivable Hepburn and Freitag could be paired together in 2024-25. Then Freitag could take over after Hepburn departs.
“He told me everything I wanted to hear,” Freitag said, referring to Gard, “how I would have a year with Chucky and after Chucky is gone the car is mine to drive.”
Pulley added: “I love Chucky. Imagine a super-athletic Chucky. That is Daniel. They can play together.
“And then when Chucky is gone, Daniel would have the experience to take over. Daniel is the kind of player who could thrive and fit in perfectly at Wisconsin.”
Freitag is confident, a tenacious worker and mature for his age.
“Daniel Freitag’s game has developed into being a three-level player,” said Jeff Evens, his basketball coach at Jefferson, said. “Daniel has always been able to get to the rim and score — now being able to finish through contact — but his mid-range and three-point shooting has greatly improved.
“Additionally, Dan has shown great strides as a leader demonstrating a great understanding of what we as a team are trying to accomplish philosophically both on offense and defense. Dan continues to show progress as a player on the defensive end of the floor and will hopefully mature into the type of defensive player that could excel in the college game.”
Pulley noted that Freitag has gradually grown from a player who generally relied on his physical gifts into a more patient player who is a comfortable leader on and off the court.
“He is more under control now,” Pulley said. “Sometimes those guys get out of control because they’re so damn good. Now he knows how to lead and that is the key.”
Freitag was asked about joining UW with Robison, his AAU teammate. What will the duo bring to the Kohl Center?
“Wins,” Freitag said.
Badgers also still targeting Kon Knueppel, Jackson McAndrew
UW’s staff still has two significant targets for the 2024 class: Wisconsin Lutheran guard/forward Kon Knueppel, who took an unofficial visit last January and is set for another unofficial visit June 21; and Minnesota forward Jackson McAndrew, who took an official visit to UW last October.
Freitag and McAndrew have grown close playing for Howard Pulley.
“They room together on the road,” Pulley said.
Speaking early in the week about Freitag’s recruitment, Pulley hypothesized that his talented guard might have already made a decision.
“I think he has scared off a whole lot of folks with football,” Pulley said. “But maybe Daniel don’t care. Maybe he has got it in his mind that: ‘I’m going to go to Wisconsin.’”
Turns out, Pulley was right.