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'He really checks all the boxes': Inside Grand Island's Isaac Traudt journey to Virginia commitment
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'He really checks all the boxes': Inside Grand Island's Isaac Traudt journey to Virginia commitment

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Super-State basketball portraits 3.22

Grand Island's Isaac Traudt is shown in March at The Amazing Pizza Machine in Omaha.

When Grand Island head coach Jeremiah Slough saw a fifth-grade Isaac Traudt drain about 20 shots in a row, he knew that young player might develop into something special.

What Slough couldn’t have predicted was Traudt’s massive growth spurt and determination to keep improving his game, a pair of traits that led the Grand Island senior to become one of the nation’s top recruits.

By the end of the recruiting process, Traudt had scholarship offers from just about every college basketball powerhouse in the country: Michigan State, North Carolina, Georgetown, Kansas, Duke, Gonzaga and UCLA — just to name a few.

However, Nebraska’s top high school basketball recruit announced on Saturday that he will play his college basketball for the Virginia Cavaliers, the 2018 national champions. Under coach Tony Bennett, the Cavaliers have made the past seven NCAA Tournaments.

“The opportunity to play basketball in college has been a dream of mine since I can remember,” Traudt said in his commitment video. “I never really knew if I’d have that chance, but I worked tirelessly to see if it was possible. I’ve been blessed to have supportive parents and coaches believing in me the whole time.”

The atmosphere within Grand Island’s gym was truly full of excitement as Traudt’s friends and supporters packed an entire section of bleachers just two hours prior to a Husker football gameday. For Slough, that kind of public recognition was well-deserved for a player who has put in countless hours of work behind the scenes.

When Traudt grew from 6-foot-1 as a freshman to 6-8 as a sophomore, it was frustrating to learn an entirely new way to play basketball. But Traudt worked tirelessly to fit his game within his new frame.

“When your body grows so much in a short time, it’s easy to lose your coordination, but he didn’t let it happen,” Slough said. “I think that helped him out because he really had to struggle through the process.”

According to 247Sports, the 6-foot-10 forward is the 49th overall recruit in the whole country. He joins a talented Cavalier recruiting class that includes the No. 90 national recruit, Leon Bond, and the No. 61 overall recruit, Isaac McKneely.

Traudt also had offers from in-state schools Nebraska and Creighton, but he’ll head to an ACC powerhouse instead after taking an official visit to Virginia’s campus in June. The 2020 first-team Super-State selection averaged 25.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game last season, the Cavaliers will rely on his scoring ability to continue at the next level.

“I am grateful that many schools saw something in me that they also believed in and gave me an incredible opportunity,” Traudt said.

With one year left for Traudt to grow his legendary status at Grand Island, Slough is grateful for the “once in a lifetime” opportunity to coach a player of Traudt’s caliber. Just as important as Traudt’s skills have been his commitment to the Islanders’ culture, and his loyalty to the program.

Regardless of the national spotlight on him, Traudt has kept doing the same things that got him to this point — putting in hours and hours of work in the Grand Island gym.

“Even with all the national craze, when he’s in the gym he’s just getting better,” Slough said. “All the energy he’s put into the recruiting process hasn’t taken away from what he does on the floor.”

“He really checks all the boxes; he’s really the perfect kid that you want to lead the program.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or at LMullin@journalstar.com. On Twitter @lmullin7

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