The first of a series on SienaSaintsBlog dedicated to exploring Siena’s recruiting class.

Siena reached into Illinois to grab Brett Bisping during the early signing period. Bisping’s journey began with a battle with iron deficiency issues, to emerging as a top player in high school to building his game in AAU ball. Bisping got discovered and signed by Siena’s staff and comes in as a capable player who can play inside and be a sizable three-point shooter.

Bisping said to SienaSaintsBlog that his iron deficiency issue, which was first reported when he committed, began to effect him as early as his sophomore year at Morton High School. Bisping said he had been diagnosed with mono during his sophomore year. During his junior year he said he couldn’t get enough sleep, being constantly tired, and was then diagnosed with an iron deficiency. He was put on a regiment of pills which gave him energy; energy enough to lift his game to new heights.

Bisping played AAU basketball with the Illinois Wolves in 16 and Under and 17 and Under games and Roy Schmidt, Editor and Publisher of Illinois Prep Bulls-eye which covers Illinois high school basketball, attributed his development with the Wolves as a crucial element to earning his scholarship offer from Siena.

“It was during the spring and summer in traveling team competition that Bisping was able to develop his skills to the furthest, especially being used as a spot up shooter offensively and being able to face up at the 3 spot,” Roy Schmidt said. “On his high school team Bisping is unable to play the 3 because he is more needed in the post.”

From there he got discovered by the Siena staff. Siena assistant Tobin Anderson and Head Coach Mitch Buonaguro came out to see him and Bisping said he visited and loved the school on his official visit. Bisping said he got along with the guys very well and he and his dad were able to watch Siena’s scrimmage against Cornell. Bisping committed to the Saints 0n November 14th.

Bisping said he’s not sure if he will get playing time early but he will continue to work to impress his freshman year.

“I don’t know that I have expectations as far as my playing time,” Bisping said. “I’m just going to try to work as hard as I can to improve my game and help out the team as much as I can.”

After committing to Siena, Bisping turned in a great senior season, knocking down threes and playing hard in the post; averaging about 17.5 points per game. Bisping took to improving his game playing heavy minutes for Morton. Playing in the second largest class in Illinois, Class 3A, Bisping has had to play inside for Morton. Listed at 6’8″, by the time the Potters reached the postseason, he had grown an inch and listed at 6’9″ according to Peoria Journal Star reporter Lonnie Schwindenhammer, who covered Morton during the season.

“Brett’s met or exceeded expectations coming into this season,”  Schwindenhammer said about how Bisping played after committing to the Saints. “He had a great year.”

Not only was he a focal point but Bisping said he sometimes had to bring the ball up against teams that pressed because it was easier for him to take it up against a big man.

After missing the start of the season with a left knee issue and watching Morton lose their first game. Bisping returned Morton went 4-0 behind his 18.5 points and 7.5 rebound average in November’s Lincoln Tournament. Morton also appeared in the Pekin Holiday Tournament in December, going 3-1 and finishing in third place. Bisping turned in a 25 point game in the third-place game, a 65-53 win over Normal West, making 9 of 11 shots from the field. Bisping earned spots on the All-Tournament team in both tournaments Morton played in this season.

Morton Potters Head Coach Jarrett Brown said that Bisping’s performance in tournament play reflected his consistent play all season.

“Brett’s performance in the Christmas tournament was no different than anything all year long,” Brown said. “He will stretch the defense with his shooting, he’ll get into the post, he gets to the foul line, runs the floor. He does a little bit of everything and then he dominates the glass, normally most every night.”

The second-year coach Brown said that Bisping improved throughout the year, getting stronger with continued work in the weight room.

“He’s not a afraid of work and he’s confident enough to look at weaknesses and not take that kind of criticism or coaching as a personal attack but as an opportunity to get better,” Brown said.

Behind Bisping Morton went to the regional finals on March 2nd where they fell to Peoria Manual 54-32. Brown said he credits Bisping’s unselfishness to help the team in the post as aiding to their terrific season.

“He’s just so unselfish,” Brown said. “[He's] a tremendous shooter and as the season wore on for us I asked him to sacrifice that part of his game and just be down in the post and stay down there. A lot of kids would really mock at that but he just did what was best for the team.”

Bisping improved as a player who can step out and shoot the three pointer as well as play physically inside, being the focal point of the Potters. Bisping said that he has been working on his shooting and ball handling on his personal time to make the move from playing inside to being a wing player.

“He can move around the perimeter – he’s got good footwork both inside and out,” Schwindenhammer said when he saw Bisping play this season. ”I think he can get on the floor right away as a college player shooting shots from the outside and if you can do that you can get in rebound at 6’9” too he’s tough enough to do that.”

While most of Siena’s players tweet or own twitter handles, Bisping said that he does not have a twitter account. Morton’s Brown said Siena is getting a quality player and teammate.

“You need to surround yourself with good people and there’s no better person and no better family than Brett Bisping and his family,” Brown said. “He’s a tremendous player and a better person and I’m anxious to continue to build that relationship with him and be there for him in whatever capacity I can be to help him out in the future.”

“He’s a real level headed kid, not a lot of highs and lows in terms of emotions or anything he’s real level-headed,” Schwindenhammer said of covering Bisping. “I think he’s probably matured a bit as a player, just being the focal point of everybody else this year.”

Bisping profiles as a combo small forward/power forward according to Roy Schmidt of Editor and Publisher of Illinois Prep Bulls-eye.

“[Bisping] is a face up big man who can step out and consistently knock down shots ranging beyond the 3-point line,” Roy Schmidt said. ”He is also more athletic than people give him credit for, as he can run the floor and has the ability to play above the rim.”

Roy Schmidt said he expects Bisping to be an immediate contributor for the Saints. Editor and Publisher Harv Schmidt said his concern about Bisping is his ability on defense.

“He is athletic, but not enough to guard the ’3′ wing spot consistently,” Harv Schmidt said.  ”He may need more strength to guard the ’4′ power forward spot.”

Roy Schmidt said that his concern with Bisping on defense is whether or not he will be better defending the interior or perimeter.

“While he is athletic, he lacks the physical strength to be able to consistently seal off bigger and stronger defenders and doesn’t sport the natural quickness and lateral movement to be able to guard on the wing,” Roy Schmidt said. “There are also times when he needs to be more aggressive with respect to attacking the glass.”

Brett is among candidates for the Player of the Year award along with being likely to receive all-conference and potentially all-state accolades. His sister, Brooke, will be a senior on the Bradley Women’s Basketball team when Brett enters Siena as a freshman in the fall. He said he is undecided on a major at Siena.

This isn’t the first time Siena has received a commitment from the Illinois area. During the late 90s, Siena signed Micah Ogburn (Class of 2000), who committed from nearby Chillichothe, IL. Ogburn played two seasons for the Saints, appearing in 43 games.

Bisping will be welcomed to the league by Niagara rising junior Marvin Jordan, who plays for MAAC rival Niagara and hails from Peoria Manual, the same high school that ended Bisping’s senior season.