Tyler Herro and the Whitnall boys basketball team enjoyed a strong 2015-16 season, reaching the WIAA state tournament, but the Falcons could be primed for an even better campaign this winter.
That's because Herro and his teammates have spent much of this summer sharpening their skills in various ways. Many of the returning players took part in a summer team league and in tournaments, and Herro himself participated in some national camps, including the prestigious Adidas Nation in Los Angeles.
Herro, who is entering his junior year at Whitnall, is one of the more highly-recruited players in the country and is receiving attention from a who's-who of college basketball powers, so this summer was crucial for him.
"I learned a lot this summer," said Herro, who averaged 24 points, 3.9 assists and 3.9 rebounds last season to earn first-team all-state honors in Division 2. "I need to keep getting better and to always work hard."
Coach Steve Kujawa sees some definite improvements in his star after the busy summer.
"You can tell the physical maturity first," Kujawa said. "His mid-range jump shot is in top form, and he was able to take the ball to the basket against two or three defenders. He also picked up his defense. He understands the angles better, and he had a chance to guard some of the top players in the country.
"He is still smooth and effortless on the court, and he still wants to get his teammates involved. He understands he is a team captain and needs to show his leadership ability."
Herro began his summer at the Adidas Nation camp in mid-May in Miami, and he played well enough there to be elected to advance to the elite Adidas Nation camp in Los Angeles last week.
That camp featured teams from across the world, and Herro was one of about 30 players representing the United States. Those players were randomly placed on three teams which played a series of games against international foes.
"Our team played against China, Asia Pacific, Australia, Africa and Canada," Herro recalled. "We went 0-5, but we were playing against older players for the most part."
Herro averaged about 14 points, four rebounds and three assists during the camp.
"Just making that camp was a tremendous honor for Tyler," said Kujawa. "(After the camp), he received scholarship offers from Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon. Usually, those schools mine the West Coast for talent, but they were reaching out."
Met NBA players
Earlier this summer, Herro attended the NBA Top 100 Camp on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in June, where he took part in games and had a chance to talk with former league players such as Chauncey Billups of the Detroit Pistons.
"They told us it was not easy to get there (to the NBA), and it was a lot of hard work," Herro said.
Herro also joined his Whitnall teammates in a summer team league, helping the Falcons post a 9-3 record. Whitnall also played in tournaments at Platteville, going 5-1; Carroll University, finishing 3-0; and Wisconsin Dells, winning the consolation championship at 2-1. Overall, the Falcons went 19-5.
Herro is also working on cutting down his list of prospective schools. He has offers from Wisconsin, Marquette, Indiana, Florida, Xavier, Purdue, Boston College and Iowa State and plans on visiting some of those campuses in the fall.
He is also looking forward to returning to the court this winter for Whitnall, which has high expectations.
"We are definitely going to be the hunted this year," Kujawa said. "Everybody is talking about Tyler and Kevion (Taylor, the forward who averaged 19 points and was honorable-mention all-state)."