Illinois & Wisconsin D-1 Recruiting Classes: Horizon League

By Andy Sroka & Diego Solares
Illinois and Wisconsin Staff

Within this post we’ll begin to break down where certain Illinois and Wisconsin players will continue their collegiate careers. We started the series by highlighting the Missouri Valley Conference, one of the most popular Division-I landing spots for players in our region, and today’s conference, the Horizon League, regularly follows close behind.

Keep checking things out throughout the month as we analyze the entire Illinois and Wisconsin 2022 classes and the commitments they’ve made, as well as the top prospects in both states who have yet to choose a home for the fall of 2022.


Ryan Karst WI (30) RHP Brookfield East
Ysen Useni IL (33) RHP Crystal Lake South
Vincent Gohlke WI (33) LHP New Berlin West
Mason Baer IL (40) OF Lake Park
Jackson Bessette IL (48) C South Elgin
Kendall Lyons IL (49) RHP Warren Township
Brandon Bak IL (58) LHP Plainfield North
Hogan Schmitt IL (87) OF Yorkville

+ The Flames are bringing in a big, exciting group in the fall of 2022, consisting of a mix of upside athletes and under-the-radar types who’ve competed at the highest levels across the travel circuit. Just this past September, LHP Brandon Bak (Plainfield North, IL) was carving up some of the top teams in the Midwest at the PBR Fall at The Rock Championships with mid-80s velocity that he was locating expertly, paired with a swing-and-miss breaking ball that was constantly earning ugly chases out of the zone. He’s developed a reputation as a high-level in-game performer with advanced pitchability that could impact UIC’s staff sooner than later.

Brandon Bak (9/11/21)

Similarly, RHP Kendall Lyons (Warren Township, IL) has demonstrated enough control across many live looks, attached to a diverse arsenal, to project as a starter at the next level. He sits in the upper-80s velocity at present and he features two different breaking balls and an effective change to round out a quality mix that should become a dependable one in Chicago.

RHP Ysen Useni (Crystal Lake South, IL) is listed at an imposing 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, and he’s the top-ranked player from Illinois among the UIC incomings, ranked at No. 33 overall in the state’s senior class. Useni impressed our staff most recently at the inaugural PBR Illinois Summer Championships last June, where he sat at a heavy 85-87 mph and effectively mixed in an advanced changeup and curve. His physicality and present stuff makes it easy to foresee him developing into a useful arm for the Flames in the next few years.

Meanwhile, C Jackson Bessette (South Elgin, IL) projects to become the battery mate for these aforementioned arms down the road. He’s showcased as an excellent receiver with strong catch-and-throw skills. Offensively, he’s continued to improve, and he’s a well-rounded athlete for his position, too.

Jackson Bessette (6/22/21)

Outfielders Mason Baer (Lake Park, IL) and Hogan Schmitt (Yorkville, IL) are a pair of impactful ‘22s to note for the future. Baer broke out in the spring as Lake Park’s offensive catalyst, hitting .436 for a 33-win team, slugging .755 with four homers. As for Schmitt, he’s a high-level athlete with quick twitch in his right-handed swing, and showed some of the best foot speed in the class when we last saw him in 2020.

Lastly, there’s a couple intriguing recruits from Wisconsin a part of this UIC class: RHP Ryan Karst (Brookfield East) and LHP Vincent Gohlke (New Berlin West). Karst owns some of the highest upside in this entire group, as a standout athlete who was also a prominent prospect in soccer at center back. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Karst is dynamic, having run a 6.79 in front of us before, and that athleticism has helped him reach upper-80s velocity with ease – and obvious room for increased velo in the near future. Gohlke has a loose, quick arm that has sat in the mid-80s for us, mostly, but it crept up into the upper-80s in the fall. His fastball leaves a ¾ slot that gets on hitters quickly, and he’s shown the ability to spin a sweeping slider effectively as a go-to secondary, creating an interesting profile for UIC to mold in the years to come.


Tyler Deleskiewicz WI (11) RHP Lake Geneva Badger
Carson Hansen WI (20) OF Pewaukee
DJ Kojis WI (37) RHP/OF Whitefish Bay
Benjamin Lee WI (51) RHP Amherst
Evan Baptiste IL (71) OF Barrington

+ The Panthers brought in a talented 2021 group that featured a few of the top prospects from both states, like RHP Logan Schulfer (Stevens Point, WI) and INF Andrew Jimenez (St. Charles North, IL), among others. Well, UW-Milwaukee stacked back-to-back groups with upside, headlined by RHP Tyler Deleskiewicz (Lake Geneva Badger). Deleskiewicz is a funky righty who’s listed at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, who we’ve seen up to 92 mph with an increasing feel to locate and weaponize his high-spin slider. He K’d 10 batters in an excellent live look in July, and he reportedly reached mid-90s highs as the late summer and fall went on. His arm speed, per ProPlay AI, is elite and he has the capabilities to reach even higher velo heights as he gains greater flexibility. Deleskiewicz may only just be scratching the surface of his prospect potential, and that could be to the Panthers’ benefit.

Tyler Deleskiewicz (7/13/21)

Joining Deleskiewicz at the program are three more in-state products: OF Carson Hansen (Pewaukee), RHP DJ Kojis (Whitefish Bay), and RHP Benjamin Lee (Amherst). Hansen emerged as a major winner throughout last year after adding strength onto a professional 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame that enhanced his offensive game. The Pewaukee multi-sport stand-out earned PBR Wisconsin all-state honors after the WIAA season, and he performed well at several different events throughout the summer, becoming a top-20 prospect in the state.

Carson Hansen (7/13/21)

Kojis represented Team Wisconsin at the 2020 PBR Future Games – which were coincidentally held at Franklin Field, the place he’ll call home in the fall – and since he’s begun to unlock his upside from the mound, after first garnering most of his attention as an outfield prospect. Kojis is a lanky 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, and he controls his body well downhill from the mound, releasing fastballs we’ve seen reach an 89 mph high, with some feel to land a slider for strikes. His arm talent is undeniable, as Kojis’ hardest throw from the outfield peaked at 97 mph last winter, and it’ll be interesting to see how he’s progressing over the offseason in a more pitch-first profile. 

Lee is another upside right-hander headed Milwaukee’s way south from Amherst. He stands at a long-levered 6-foot-6, 200 pounds, with a mid-80s fastball that projects and plays up given its ride through the zone. Lee’s done well to improve upon his breaking ball spin and feel, and it flashes swing-and-miss abilities these days, and his changeup has consistently proved effective in front of our staff.

The lone Illinois product in this incoming class is 5-foot-10, 170-pound OF Evan Baptiste (Barrington). Baptiste impressed in June at the Top Prospect - Chicago event where he ran a 6.56 in the 60-yard dash and displayed dynamic athleticism throughout his game. That speed is especially evident in the outfield, where Baptiste profiles as a quality defender in center fielder at the next level. His loose, quick right-handed swing is capable of making an impact for the Panthers in due time, too.


Jaxson Easterlin WI (94) RHP Franklin
Tyler Jewett IL (286) LHP Oswego East
+ The Golden Grizzlies are another program that’s dipped into Illinois and Wisconsin in its 2022 group, bringing in one arm from each state. Heading to Rochester from Wisconsin is 6-foot-5, 210-pound RHP Jaxson Easterlin (Franklin), who’s a pitchability arm with an upside three-pitch mix and frame to pair. Joining him is LHP Tyler Jewett (Oswego East, IL), who makes for an uncomfortable look from the left side with a low-80s fastball and sweeping slider.

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