January 6, 2011 at 9:39 a.m.

Tinjum decides early, will head to Madison to play for Badgers

Tinjum decides early, will head to Madison to play for Badgers
Tinjum decides early, will head to Madison to play for Badgers

With a heated recruiting battle about to pick up steam, Chisago Lakes guard Whitney Tinjum has decided early to take her talents to Madison.

The junior guard committed to the Wisconsin Badgers over New Year's weekend, ending what was sure to be an intense recruiting war early.

Tinjum was already fielding offers from some smaller Division I school such as Creighton, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Drake and some of the powerhouse Division II schools in the Midwest such as the University North Dakota and South Dakota State University.

But, with the Badgers, Tinjum takes a huge step up in competition playing in the Big 10.

But, Tinjum's decision to join the red and white wasn't a snap decision because they were the first top tier program to make an offer. "I took an unofficial visit to Wisconsin to a football game, and I got to tailgate with the Athletics Director and meet some of the coaches and players," Tinjum said. "The coaches were really nice and seemed like family people, and the players seemed very nice too -- I really thought I fit in with them."

Tinjum even continued to rave about the facilities that she got to encounter while she was there. "The Kohl Center was just great," she said. "Everything about it just fit me really well."

And what fit her most was a short list of desires in her college choice. She wanted close proximity to home because she has a younger brother who is 10, and she wants to be around for him and give him support. She also wanted a great education. She said as far as those two aspects, Wisconsin just clicked.

Badger Head Coach Lisa Stone isn't the only one who has been impressed by Tinjum. Although she can't comment on recruits, Chisago Lakes Head Coach Craig Walker did, as Tinjum is the first Division I prospect he has coached in his career, and also the first Division I prospect to come out of the Chisago Lakes girls basketball program.

"She obviously has great skills, but she also has such a great attitude about everything and because of that, coaching her has been great," Walker said enthusiastically. "She could come into the gym with an attitude of 'I'm one of the best players in the state. I play on one of the best AAU teams in the nation. What are you going to tell me that I don't already know?' But, there has been none of that type of attitude. She always is willing to work hard to improve her skills as well as the skills of her teammates. It's great to see Whitney in our summer skills sessions, working with the younger players to help them improve their skills.

"Throughout her recruitment, I've told many coaches that Whitney is a better person than she is a basketball player and they all overwhelmingly agree. That is really what has made it a pleasure to coach Whitney."

Tinjum, who is a six-foot, one-inch guard, has a variety of moves and has the versatility of a Swiss Army knife.

She is tall enough to play in the post and has developed some very effective moves down low, but she is also quick enough to beat smaller defenders off the dribble and drive to the lane. She is a very effective shooter, and doesn't miss many free throws, as evidenced by her 15-of-16 performance from the line in a game earlier this year.

With over a year and a half to get ready for the Big 10 style of play, Tinjum very well may have a chance to crack the rotation as a freshman. "Coach Stone told me she doesn't recruit players to redshirt," Tinjum said. "She said I could have an impact right away and can make a difference."

Walker was inclined to agree, saying, "What makes her successful on the court is her competitive drive and instincts. At 6'1, her ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket make her a different player than most. The Badgers are getting a versatile and determined player who can create her own shots and get to the free throw line," he said. "She also has a great release and as her shot continues to improve, she can become an outside threat as well. Defensively her instincts also make her a great defender and rebounder. She knows where the ball is going and has the athletic ability to go get it and secure the rebound."

With her early commitment, however, there are sure to be plenty of teams still knocking on her door, as she has only given an oral commitment. Players can't officially sign with colleges until their senior year.

But, according to Tinjum, there will be no wavering, no flip flopping, and no changes. "I'm 100 percent committed to the University of Wisconsin," she said.


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