IOWA CITY -- Brady Ellingson led his high school basketball team to its first conference title since 1979, yet the Sussex (Wis.) Hamilton guard garnered little attention as a junior.
Last spring, it was more of the same. Ellingson held scholarship offers from a handful of smaller Division I schools such as San Diego and Oakland (Mich.). Then at an AAU tournament in July ...
"It kind of blew up," Ellingson said. "I think at the end of it I had 22 offers when it was all said and done."
Ellingson, a 6-foot-4 off-guard, fielded scholarship offers from Iowa, Missouri, Utah and other schools. But when he stepped on campus at Iowa, he felt like he was home. Wednesday, Ellingson will be one of two players to sign letters of intent to play basketball for the Hawkeyes in 2014. Forward Dominique Uhl, who stands 6-8, is the other.
"I really love Coach (Fran) McCaffery and his style of play," Ellingson said. "I had a really good visit with the guys, a good relationship with the players. Just the fact that it was close to home and it was in the Big Ten, I always wanted to play in the Big Ten."
The Milwaukee-area shooter averaged 21.3 points and 3.5 rebounds last season. He hit 51 percent of his field-goal attempts and nearly 50 percent from 3-point range. He enters a program that could use another perimeter shooter; Iowa ranked 11th in the Big Ten last year in 3-point percentage.
"I’m a kid who can really stretch the floor and shoot the ball," Ellingson said. "Coach likes my toughness and just my IQ, and the way I help my teammates. They see me coming in as a shooter and kind of working my way up after that."
Ellingson has impressed his high school coach, Andy Cerroni, in all aspects of his game. Cerroni elevated Ellingson to varsity as a freshman and now he'll rely on Ellingson to carry his team this season.
"He’s somebody that’s going to be a great addition for the program in all aspects," Cerroni said. "He’s an outstanding player, an outstanding person. He comes from a great family. He’s a hard worker He’s certainly just earned everything gotten at this point through hard work.
"The guy can score. I can just tell you he can flat-out score. He can beat you from 3-point range. Hhe can beat you with a mid-range jumper. He can shoot off the dribble and off the catch. He can get to the rim and finish.
"He's the pride and joy of our community and our program."
Ellingson was the first commit to Iowa's 2014 class. Uhl chose Iowa over Boston College and Temple last month. Uhl hails originally from Germany and now resides in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. Both players are listed as three-star prospects from Rivals.
Iowa still has two available scholarships for 2014. Last week Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said the team potentially could sign one more player this fall. It's possible the Hawkeyes will use those scholarships in the spring, possibly on a transfer. More than 400 Division I men's basketball players transferred last spring.
Per NCAA rules, McCaffery cannot talk about potential student-athletes until the school receives their letter of intent. The fall signing period begins Wednesday and lasts until Nov. 20. The spring signing period begins April 16, 2014.