news 6 days ago

Byron's Vanderpool commits to play college basketball at Wisconsin

Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn. — Pat Ruff Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.

May 22-- May 22--Sacia Vanderpool will be on familiar ground.

The Byron High School junior might even be tour-guide worthy in the fall of 2021 for the rest of the incoming freshmen at the University of Wisconsin.

The Madison campus is old hat for Vanderpool, who on Friday made a verbal commitment to the Wisconsin women's basketball team. She'll become a fourth-generation Vanderpool enrollee at the college, which currently also houses her older sister, Ella Vanderpool, a sophomore.

"Wisconsin always felt like it was meant to be for me," said Sacia Vanderpool, a 6-feet-4 center who had had a bunch of Division I basketball offers roll in the past few weeks and was sure to get a bunch more. "When I was younger, we'd always go to games there on campus. I think I was about 3 years old when I went to my first one. My dad (Brian Vanderpool) went to Wisconsin, as did my grandparents, my great grandparents, and also my aunt. There is really a special connection for me there."

The Wisconsin women's basketball coaches believe that Vanderpool can make a special connection in their program. The versatile center, who is mobile and can score inside and outside, is on a promising trajectory. She averaged 16 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocked shots last year for Byron, after averaging 12 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks per game as a sophomore.

Vanderpool is an excellent shooter. She shot 54 percent overall from the field this season, including 43 percent (12-for-28) on 3-pointers. She's also deadly from the free throw line, converting 81 percent of her tries this year.

Vanderpool joins a team that is looking to upgrade. The Badgers finished 3-15 in the Big Ten and 12-19 overall last year, and haven't had a winning season since 2010-11.

That quest to emerge from losing times gives Vanderpool reason to believe she can have an immediate impact. The Badgers are looking for talent, and seem to have found it in Vanderpool, who also gave serious consideration to Kansas State and Nebraska.

"I am hoping to get some playing time right away," said Vanderpool, also an outstanding student, with a 3.96 GPA. "I can be a versatile player for them. I can play wherever they need me."

Byron coach Jeremy Baumbach said he believes that the Badgers are getting a player with plenty of potential. And her size is tough to beat. Baumbach said he believes that was a major lure for Wisconsin.

"Size is enticing, and in Sacia you have a 6-4 girl," Baumbach said. "But that's not all. It's also her ability to stretch the floor and knock down shots inside and outside. Sacia also has good feet and a good basketball IQ. She has more development to make, but she has a lot of things that are enticing to work with."

Vanderpool is the Badgers' second commitment for the 2021 recruiting class. The other is 5-10 guard Krystyna Ellew from Chicago.

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