Show-Me State of Mind: Shaquille Boga Commits to Milwaukee

Astoundingly great news came from the Milwaukee recruiting trail Thursday as it was announced that Show-Me State High School point guard wunderkind, Shaquille ("Shaq") Boga of Florissant, MO's McCluer (same HS as his big brother, Sophomore Panther SG Lonnie) gave a verbal commitment to accept a scholorship to attend the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

YouTube clips of Shaq:

At 5'11" and 170lbs Shaq is known as a tremendous ball-handler, scorer, and judicious distributer of the rock. In '09-'10. Boga lead the Comets to a 22-5 season mark while averaging 21.6 points, 5.3 assists, and 4.1 steals per contest. Being not just a shooter but apparently a quality marksman- Shaq shot at an impressive .380 from long range and .770 from the charity stripe.

It cannot be emphasized enough how incredible a pickup this is for the Milwaukee program. Shaquille had standing offers from Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Western Kentucky, Southern Illinois, Witchita State, among several others.... and he chose Milwaukee. It was reported that Tubby Smith tried to sway Shaq into coming to Minnesota just hours after Shaq made his official visit to UWM, but it was too late. Shaq wanted to join his brother Lonnie in Milwaukee and play for Rob Jeter for his college ball career. That could turn out to be quite a successful 4 years for the point guard from Florissant.

This current season on the other hand, is finally about to begin. A lot of people around the League are not too high on Milwaukee and think we will finish in the middle of the pack. Predictions for Milwaukee's order of finish are #4-#7 by most of the (nearly always) hilariously inaccurate pre-season "rankings" from local media outlets and national media with a newfound interest/obligation (for obvious reasons) in covering the Horizon League.

In the Panthers "Sneak Peak" Intrasquad scrimmage which was open to students and season ticketholders, dyed in the wool Panther fans like myself got a very entertaining and good look at what kind of team Coach Jeter is going to put on the floor against the likes of formidable foes like Marquette, Wisconsin, and Butler this season.. I won't go into too much detail- has a great recap up already. But I will give my impression in 400 words or less...

Kaylon Williams is better than advertised. Horizon League foes are not going to be laughing after playing against him running the Panther point these next two seasons. His quickness, court vision, and deadly all around shot- off the break, from the deep perimeter, and at-will through the lane, will give fits to opposing back courts.

Tone Boyle has not only not lost a step since '08-'09, he has actually gained a step or two. Tone drained his first three attempts from 3pt land. And his last three barely touched the net. His shot looks markedly improved and his fluid movement is in stark contrast to what seemed like less-dimensional ball handling and defending in his first season with the Panthers before the back injury that kept him out last season.

Ryan Allen is not a work in progress. This guy can play- right away. He can also jump higher than anyone on the team and is a perfect candidate to nudge Popeye's Chicken to consider bringing back the "5 dunks in a Panther game" free chicken promotion. Allen isn't just flash however, he looked very in control with the ball and off the ball defending and cutting within the Panther offense.

Mitch Carter is a giant. Unfortunately he played the game with a club on his hand as he recently broke some bones in his hand, but it hardly even affected his dominance in the post. I'll say it again- Mitch is a GIANT. And while he might not begin the season ready for action... he will definitely be ready just in time- for the Marquette game at the Cell.

Ant was Ant- only quicker and more aggressive and confident (battling against Big Mitch in practices and workouts for over a year will do that I suppose!). Meier and Hags showed their familiar great shooting and footwork on post defense. Lonnie impressed (though not as much as I  was hoping- but he will be ready this season). J-Mac poured it on- leading all scorers with 26 points scoring all types of crazy shots driving "no holds barred" style through the paint.

Ajami is quicker, stronger and more decisive with the ball than last season- he could be seeing a lot of minutes in this, his senior year if his shooting percentages stay up. Everyone played. Kyle Kelm is way bigger than I think most people were expecting. And while Kelm was not a dominate force in the paint- he held his own. I cannot wait for Kelm to get some experience- that player is going to be a monster in the the H-League- and sooner than later. Everyone played well and provided Panther fans with a great preview of what is to come (and a great collection of observations to encourage friends and co-workers to come out to some games!).

The Panthers take on the MSOE Raiders at the Klotsche Center this coming Monday at 7pm, and follow that contest with another exhibition vs. the Carrol Pioneers- also at the Klotsche. MPT will have a full (combined) report of both games and how this team looks in person in real live games after the conclusion of the Carrol game.

So many questions surround this team... But unlike in years past when these kind of uncertainties often yielded negative outcomes, I thinkby season's end that a lot of the question marks on this team (Boyle, Williams, Carter, Allen, Kelm, etc.) will turn into exclamation points that punctuate just how far this program has come since the somber days of '06-'07.

Also- see this well produced Milwaukee Panthers Basketball promotional TV ad (courtesy of that is likely to hit the airwaves soon:

This season has a lot of true believers psyched, and a lot of non-believers and haters second-guessing themselves already. These upcoming exhibitions are the final tune up... Portland is the first real opportunity for these Panthers to confirm or cast doubt on the wide range of opinions already being heaped upon them.

No more "just wait until". No more "we are rebuilding". The Milwaukee coaching staff, for all the criticism they get, have slowly but steadily assembled an immensely talented and deep team. Bring your family, friends, co-workers or whoever you know that enjoys a good game of college hoops to come out and watch this thing unfold. Nothing is ever a sure thing, but based on what I've seen so far, this season could be one to remember.