Connor Essegian didn’t have many collegiate options as he headed into his junior year. He had a few NAIA and lower Division I schools interested in him at the start, but no high or even mid-major institutions had their eyes on him.
The pandemic restricted college coaches from attending in person events, which limited their chances to see the class of 2022 guard in Albion, Indiana.
It wasn’t until the summer after his junior year that bigger programs started to take note of the shooting guard. He competed in some events for both his high school team and AAU team that offered more exposure to bigger schools.
That’s when the offers started flooding in. He had at least 20 offers from Division I programs, including two in the Big Ten, by July. He became the first member of the class of 2022 to commit to the University of Wisconsin on Wednesday.
Essegian committed to UW’s men’s basketball team in his high school’s gym. He announced his decision on social media as well.
He had a breakout junior year, averaging 15.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in the Adidas 3SSB circuit with Indiana Elite. Essegian also helped his high school team, Central Noble, to a 20-1 season with 24.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 steals.
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The 6-foot-4 shooting guard is rated a three-star recruit and ranked as the No. 45 shooting guard in the class of 2022 by 247sports.com. He is the seventh-best player in his class in Indiana, according to prephoops.com.
He made an unofficial visit to UW on Aug. 2 then an official visit to Wake Forest on Aug. 27. He returned to Madison for his official visit to UW the weekend of Sept. 3.
Essegian narrowed his options to seven schools in early August. He picked the Badgers over Loyola Chicago, Creighton, Minnesota, Purdue Fort Wayne, Wake Forest and Butler.
Mark Adams, his coach at Indiana Elite, said Essegian might be the best shooter in Indiana and is one of the top performers in the state.
“He can shoot a high percentage from the volleyball line,” Adams said. “I’ve had a lot of good shooters over the years, and he’s right up there with the best. … He can drive the line and dunk it on somebody. He can handle the ball well.”
His high school coach, John Bodey, said he’s seen Essegian grow every year that he’s coached him. Essegian started as a player that only caught and shot, then he worked up to drives and even dunks.
Bodey said Essegian surprises a lot of people with how athletic he is and even possesses a “sneaky athleticism” that not only allows him to score, but to move the ball well.
The high school senior is known for his “pretty” jump shot.
“It’s fun for me going into games knowing that I have the best player on the court,” Bodey said.
His coaches said he’s put such an emphasis on offense that his defensive skills, while there, are going to need some tuning. Bodey said that he already has seen improvement from Essegian, where his AAU competition had him guarding other Division I commits.
“He is the type of kid that he’s not afraid to verbally lead, but he can also lead by example,” Bodey said. “He understands the importance of both. I see him down the road being a leader at Wisconsin.”