MINNEAPOLIS - Nolan Winter, the No. 2-ranked basketball recruit in Minnesota for the class of 2023, made his college choice on Friday.
Despite the Gophers and Ben Johnson being considered the favorite for months to land the 6-10 forward from Lakeville North, Winter is not staying home. Via social media Friday afternoon, Winter announced his commitment to attend Wisconsin next season.
"Madison!!! Let's go!!!" Winter posted to Twitter and Instagram.
Winter took an official visit with the Badgers earlier this summer, and soon after, spent an official weekend with the Gophers during their first football game. He's the latest Twin Cities basketball standout not to pick Minnesota. On Tuesday, Totino-Grace star Taison Chatman, the No. 31-ranked player in the country, committed to Ohio State.
Johnson does have a commitment from the top player in Illinois, Cam Christie. The Gophers are also the favorite to land 5-star center Dennis Evans, who is visiting Minnesota at the end of the month.
But not landing Winter stings for Johnson and the Gophers. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s a legacy recruit. His dad, Trevor Winter, was a center for the Gophers in the program’s only run to the NCAA Final Four in 1997. His wife also played volleyball for the Gophers.
Nolan Winter, at 6-10 and 190 pounds, is a different player. Trevor was a physical bruiser, while Nolan is a stretch forward who can play inside and out, shoot and even score off the dribble if needed.
Johnson was hired as the Gophers’ men’s basketball coach to replace Richard Pitino, with one of the top priorities being to keep top local players in Minnesota. His first recruiting class included Braeden Carrington of Park Center, Joshua Ola-Joseph of Osseo and Pharrel Payne of Park Cottage Grove.
Winter's other finalists were Stanford, and Oregon State. But the Lakeville North and Minnesota pipeline to Wisconsin continues. Nate Reuvers, Tyler Wahl, Brad Davison, Ben Carlson, Steven Crowl and Jon Leuer are all Minnesota natives to play for the Badgers. He had scholarship offers from several other programs across the country, including Nebraska, Wake Forest and St. Thomas.
In the end, Wisconsin was the best fit.