Gabe and Mason Madsen have heard it time and time again.
Any recruiting conversation revolving around the twin brothers in the media always came with a caveat.
You can’t get one without getting the other.
“We didn’t really talk about it that much until this summer,” Mason said. “We had to respect that because we had a twin, things were completely different. (If we didn’t), people wouldn’t have questioned. And there’s always people talking about who’s better and that kind of thing. We just kind of let it run its course.”
The former Bloomer stars, now playing at Rochester Mayo High School in Rochester, Minn., have both been coveted recruits for a smattering of NCAA Division I programs for a couple of years. Although both are three-star recruits according to 247sports.com, scouts have rated Gabe higher.
Gabe, ranked No. 185 in the nation’s 2020 class by 247sports, received scholarship offers from most of the country’s top college basketball conferences. The Big Ten, ACC and Big East all came knocking, among others. That included offers from Marquette, Minnesota, Iowa, Northwestern and Virginia Tech.
Mason, rated No. 397 in the 2020 class, had his fair share of DI offers too. Notably, Bradley, Colorado State, Illinois State, Northern Iowa and Cal Poly offered a spot in their programs.
But only one high-profile program offered both of the twins: Cincinnati.
And on the initial signing date of the early signing period this November, Gabe and Mason pledged their future to the Bearcats.
“We just let each other run our own course,” Mason said. “And it just so happened that we went on that one visit together (to Cincinnati). And that was our only visit we had planned together, but it was the right place for us.”
As far as the “can’t get one without the other” rumor goes? The Madsens said it wasn’t totally true, although staying together is definitely a plus.
“It’s always been a goal to play together — there’s really no tighter bond than with a twin — but there was a point this summer where we didn’t think it was going to happen since there wasn’t really a place that was a great fit for both of us,” Gabe said. “But then Cincy came along, and when we took the visit we both thought if we were to take the twin out of it, we both still would have committed.”
Throughout the whole recruiting process, the twins’ father Luke stressed the importance of making the best decision for themselves individually.
“We talked pretty openly about that fact that they’re not conjoined,” said Luke, Bloomer’s former head coach who is now the twins’ coach at Rochester Mayo. “They’re eventually going to live in different places probably, so we wanted them to make a decision that was best for each of them individually. They’ve always talked about playing together as long as they can, but we didn’t want them to chase that.”
Both were certainly capable of making their mark on their own in college. Gabe averaged 23.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and five assists per game last winter. Mason scored at a 22.3 points-per-game clip and averaged 5.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists.
The duo moved to Rochester following their freshman year at Bloomer, when Luke left his role as basketball coach and athletic director to take the job at Rochester Mayo. Gabe and Mason led the Blackhawks in scoring that year with 18.1 and 17.7 points per game, respectively.
Cincinnati didn’t come on their radar until this year, following Mick Cronin’s departure from the head coach role to take over at UCLA. John Brannen took over the Bearcats program in the summer, and circled the Madsens as high-priority targets right away.
Bearcats assistant Sean Dwyer saw Gabe play in the first live recruiting event of the summer, and told the soon-to-be senior that if it were up to him, he would have offered him a scholarship on the spot. But first Brannen needed to see him play.
That was merely a formality. Gabe got his offer not too long after, and Mason’s followed in the months to come.
“Gabe is a dynamic scorer, a big-time shot maker who brings a swagger to the game,” Brannen said in a press release on the program’s website. “Mason brings a toughness and a competitiveness that Cincinnati basketball has been synonymous with for years. He’ll fit perfectly into how we do things. He’s selfless, he’s athletic. He can do a lot of different things with the basketball as a multi-position guard.”
With their letters of intent signed, the recruiting whirlwind has finally stopped. Both agreed it was an eye-opening experience, and one they wouldn’t trade for anything.
“It just taught us a lot of life skills,” Mason said. “You have to grow up a little quicker because you have to interact with professional people, and you have to learn how to tell people no. We really had to man up, and there were a lot of life skills built into that.”
“Looking back at it, it was an awesome experience,” Gabe added. “It taught me to take nothing for granted. During it, I was like ‘this is really annoying,’ because some nights it would be two hours of phone calls and you’d want to do something else — you’re still a kid. But looking back, you can’t take it for granted, because now it’s over and we’ll never experience something like that again.”