ALBION – On Sept. 7, Central Noble senior Connor Essegian shared photos from his visit to Wisconsin on social media, adding the tag "#notcommitted" to his tweet.
But within 24 hours of returning home from Madison, Essegian had made up his mind that Wisconsin was absolutely the college basketball program for him. He officially announced that decision Wednesday in the Central Noble gym in front of dozens of supporters.
"I was always dreaming of playing in the Big Ten, it's always been a goal of mine, playing in the Midwest," Essegian said. "So to have that opportunity and finally be able to say yes, it's definitely exciting."
Essegian choose the Badgers out of a field of finalists that also included Butler, Creighton, Loyola University Chicago, Minnesota, Purdue Fort Wayne and Wake Forest.
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound shooting guard is already Central Noble's leading scorer with 1,705 career points. He averaged 24 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 steals as a junior and was named to the IBCA Underclass All-State Supreme 15 and AP All-State High Honorable Mention, although he was not recognized as a Junior All-Star. He was a three-star recruit according to 247Sports.
Despite the accolades, most of Essegian's offers through this summer had come from mid-major programs. He plays for a Class 2A school that does not get the same kind of attention as larger schools, he played for a local AAU program (Team Focus), and restrictions put in place during the start of the pandemic at the tail end of his sophomore season limited in-person interactions college coaches could have with high school athletes.
But after impressive performances playing with Indiana Elite early this summer, college programs started paying attention. Essegian shared the news of his offer from Wisconsin on Aug. 2, just a few days after announcing an offer from Minnesota and about two weeks after being offered by Butler.
"COVID put us behind a year, so this summer, leading up to today, has been crazy. We had to cram a lot in in a short amount of time," Jody Essegian, Connor's mother, said. "It's long, it's hard, but it's rewarding and amazing. We've met so many great people, and Connor has literally grown up right in front of my eyes. He's had to."
Some of those people – the players already attending Wisconsin – were key to Essegian's decision.
"It was the family aspect that they gave me, the coaching staff taking me in and showing me they care and want a relationship with me, and the players, taking me in and treating me no different than each other. I didn't have to change who I was around them," Essegian said.