CADOTT — This past season, Austin Poehls led the Cadott boys basketball team to heights the program hadn’t seen since the early 1990s.
Now, he’s adding another chapter to an already impressive basketball career.
The Cadott senior signed his letter of intent to play basketball for Viterbo University in La Crosse Wednesday afternoon at Cadott High School.
For Poehls, the decision to sign with Viterbo was an easy one, as the school fit both his academic and basketball needs.
“This season, they started coming to a lot of the games and I started to know the coaches and talked to them a lot. I developed a good, personal relationship with them and they told me that I was what they were looking for,” Poehls said. “Not just basketball-wise, but school-wise, too. You can get your masters (degree) in one year and that really drew my attention. I’m looking to further my education in accounting and they’ve got a great accounting program.”
This season, Poehls was the centerpiece for a Hornets team that went 19-5 and finished second in the Western Cloverbelt Conference — a mark that signaled the best year for Cadott since 1990-91. As the point guard for that team, Poehls did everything — scoring, dishing out assists and pulling down rebounds. On the year, the 6-foot-1 Poehls averaged over 15 points per game as well as 5.6 assists and 5.5 rebounds and was named first team All-WCC.
It was those all-around qualities that drew Viterbo head coach Wayne Wagner to begin recruiting Poehls.
“In the recruiting game, it all starts with being a good player. We saw that early on,” Wagner said. “He was down at camp down at Viterbo with the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook so we got to eyeball him there right away. He was down at some tournaments in our area. So we felt really good about him as a basketball player.
“He’s got versatility. He can handle the ball, he can shoot the ball from long-range. He’s a good passer. All those things that are so key to being able to make that jump to the next level.”
Viterbo, which competes in the Midwest Collegiate Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), finished tied for third in the conference this past season and ended the year with a 16-15 overall record. For Poehls, another factor in his decision to attend Viterbo had to do with the V-Hawks’ fast-paced style of play — something that Poehls ran to perfection this past season with Cadott.
“They’re fast. And I like fast,” Poehls said. “It seems like they give (the players) a lot of freedom in their coaching and I really like that.”
Wednesday’s signing was a bittersweet moment for Cadott boys basketball coach Brandon Mittermeyer — who saw possibly the best Hornet he’s coached reach a new level in his career, but also leave a program he so heavily contributed to. When Poehls began his career at Cadott four years ago, Mittermeyer had no idea that he’d become the player he did, but he wasn’t exactly surprised.
“I didn’t expect it to get to this level, but I knew he was going to be a good player,” Mittermeyer said. “The potential was there and we certainly knew the drive and the willingness to work hard was there.”
While Poehls’ assets on the basketball court were what initially drew Wagner and the V-Hawks to him, the final step in the recruiting process was making sure he had the potential to be a leader on the team and on campus.
Again, Poehls did nothing but impress.
“The final stamp for somebody in our situation is that it has to be a good person and good student and somebody that we know can become a leader on our campus,” Wagner said. “As we got to know him, it became clear to me that he was going to be a quality individual to have in our program and somebody that can develop to become a good leader in our school.”