CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- For the first time in program history, Illinois has received a verbal commitment from a player who was honored as Mr. Basketball in the state of Wisconsin.
Brandin Podziemski, a 6-foot-6 wing is from Muskego, Wis., and currently attends St. John's Northwestern Military Academy in nearby Delafield, has given his verbal pledge to Illinois on Tuesday.
Podziemski finished his prep career with 2,154 points despite not playing high school basketball in his freshman season but becoming the first player in Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association history to ever reach the 2,000-point mark in just three years.
Podziemski, who is rated the 23rd best prospect in the Midwest region and 29th best shooting guard in the nation according to ESPN.com, selected the Illini selected four finalists that included Kentucky, Miami (Fla.), Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.
Podziemski is seen as a player who can help build length and shooting depth into the future of the wing positions of the Illini program after they previously signed four-star shooting guard Luke Goode of Indiana and got a verbal commitment from 6-foot-6 Florida wing Ramses “RJ” Melendez in February.
Podziemski, who was primarily recruited by assistant coach Ronald ‘Chin’ Coleman along with Illinois head coach Brad Underwood, told Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook editor Mark Miller that the potential turnover in the Illini lineup could provide “an opportunity to come in and start right away”.
“They see me as a combination guard so I could see time at either guard position,” Podziemski told Miller. “My mindset when I arrive on campus in June will be to work hard to get into the starting rotation."
Of the nine players who were honored as the Wisconsin Mr. Basketball selection since 2015 (co-winners in 2015 and 2016), Podziemski is only the third player to not verbally commit to an in-state school.
“I'm extremely pleased with my decision. I've dreamt about playing at the highest level of college basketball since eighth grade and now it's a reality,” Podziemski told Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook.
Podziemski, who arrived at St. John’s Academy a 6-foot-3 and 160-pound point guard and quickly grew into his 6-foot-6 and 200-pound frame, is coming off a senior season in which he averaged 35.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.6 assists while shooting 60 percent from the field, 82 percent from the free-throw line and 43 percent (108 of 249) from three-point range.
Podziemski, who is expected to sign Wednesday along with Melendez on the first day with the spring signing period, will be the third player in Illini history to sign out of a Wisconsin high school program.
Podziemski’s recruiting status started to grow quickly among top rated power conference programs when he starred on Phenom University AAU club program directed by Antonio Curro on a roster with McDonald’s All-America selection Patrick Baldwin Jr. and 2021 four-star point guard Tyrese Hunter, who is verbally committed to Iowa State.
Podziemski also won the Associated Press Wisconsin Player of the Year award while leading St. John’s Academy at the point guard position to an appearance in the Division 3 sectional finals of the WIAA state tournament.