Throughout the recruiting process, Zac Saddler attracted attention from numerous high-major and mid-major programs. An athletic 6-foot-7, 200-pound basketball player from New Braunfels, Texas, Saddler’s last offer came from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Despite Milwaukee displaying interest late in the recruiting process, Saddler was blown away with the program, especially head coach LaVall Jordan. He officially committed to the Panthers in mid-May of this year.
“As far as all of the places I visited and the people I talked to – the coaching staff is phenomenal,” Saddler said of the Milwaukee coaches. “They have great player development. You’re getting a whole lot better from working out with them. They are great people to be around. Being around them, as well as everyone on the team, makes you a better person and better basketball player.
“This is a great school. You get a great education and experience something new, as far as going from home. I think it’s a great opportunity to be a well-rounded person and a good basketball person.”
Saddler received numerous scholarship offers, including one from Washington State. He would’ve likely received playing time right away as a freshman from WSU this season, but instead of playing at a high-major program, Saddler felt the best fit for him was at Milwaukee.
“Going so far away from home, you want to go somewhere where you feel like you are a part of a family because your family isn’t here,” Saddler said. “It’s hard to get back to them. I only get to see them a couple times a year. You want to be at a place where you feel comfortable and where you think you will have the most enjoyable experience over the next four years.”
Although college has been an adjustment, especially having to move away from home, Saddler is enjoying his time as a freshman student and basketball player at Milwaukee.
“At first it was a little bit of a struggle,” Saddler said. “You know everything is a lot different. Things are changing as far as school goes and workouts, but after a couple of weeks I’ve gotten accustomed to it. It’s fun.”
Saddler figures to receive a considerable amount of minutes in his freshman season with the Panthers. While practice doesn’t officially begin until Oct. 1, Saddler’s size almost guarantees him playing time this upcoming year.
One of seven new newcomers to this year’s squad, Saddler is the third tallest player at 6-foot-7. Only redshirt twin juniors Alex and Brett Prahl – both 6-foot-9 – are taller with senior Dan Studer also measuring at 6-foot-7.
“As far as fitting in, I’m going to do what the team needs,” Saddler said. “If that’s playing a lot of minutes or waving a towel, I’m going to do what we need.”
An explosive player, who brings length and versatility to the court, Saddler averaged 14.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game, while knocking down 44.9 percent of his shots as a senior at New Braunfels High School last year.
With the help of his coaches, he’s confident that he can build off his successes in high school and develop into a solid college player, while helping the Panthers compete for Horizon League conference titles.
“I think the whole staff and Coach Jordan in particular have so much fire and so much drive to get better,” Saddler said. “I’m really about getting better and leaving our mark on basketball and UWM. I think that’s something that they’re definitely going to be working towards, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Over the next four years with the Panthers, Saddler hopes he can make an impact on the basketball program and university.
“I want to leave my fingerprints on this program in any way I can on and off the court,” Saddler said. “Just be a great influence and role model for teammates, people around the community and people around UWM.”