So often in recruiting, it all comes down to the perfect fit.
For Tanner Brandt, that fit was with Winona State University as the Wisconsin Dells senior recently signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the NCAA Division II Warriors. Brandt, a 6-foot-7 forward, was also offered by in-state Div. II school UW-Parkside, and had strong consideration from St. Mary’s (Minn.) University as well as UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stevens Point, but ultimately chose the Warriors.
“When I first got there I loved the surrounding area, the campus was amazing, and it was a little bigger than some of the other schools I looked at,” Brandt said. “It just felt perfect for me. It was the right fit.”
Brandt made considerable strides over his career with the Chiefs, peaking this past season, averaging 18.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game for a Wisconsin Dells team that reached the WIAA Div. 3 sectional final for the first time since 2013.
Brandt, who shot 55.1 percent from 3-point range, was named South Central Conference Player of the Year and was named to the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Div. 3 All-State Team. For Brandt, the inside-out play that he ran with the Chiefs is similar to what the Warriors run under coach Todd Eisner, and had an impact on his choice.
“They’re a pick and pop type of team,” Brandt said. “They do a lot of screens on ball a lot of the time and he said he’d like me to pop and play a type of guard almost.”
““In today’s game, to have a stretch four-man that can score inside and at the arc is a great luxury to have, and Tanner brings exactly that,” Eisner said in a press release on the Winona State athletic site.
Even though will fit in perfect with the Warriors system, Brandt admitted that he may not play this upcoming season, opting to redshirt his freshman year. While Brandt said that there is a possibility he plays early on, the likelihood is that he sits out his freshman year.
For both Eisner and Brandt, building strength will be crucial, but Brandt said he is focused on improving every part of his game.
“I’m always trying to improve my overall game, mostly my defense and my defensive slides,” Brandt said. “Definitely my strength and my speed, but I always want to work harder and get better every day in every aspect of my game.”
A year on the bench will give Brandt just that chance. The redshirt season will also give Brandt the opportunity to gather plenty of advice from a deep senior group. The Warriors return five seniors from last year’s team that finished 19-10 overall and 14-8 in the deeper Northern Division in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
Brandt, who will not be on scholarship initially, believes the incoming recruiting class, which features fellow instate commits Nick Klug of Burlington and Alec Rosner of Kimberly, can make an impact in the coming seasons.
As confident as Brandt is, he knows there will be will be plenty of things to get used to but is excited for the next step.
“Definitely the speed of the game with the shot clock is one big thing I look forward to,” he said. “That will be pretty interesting and tough to get used to and the physicality, but I’m looking forward enjoying the experience too.”