Phil Kessel made his long-awaited college decision official Friday afternoon during a press conference at the U.S. National Development Program headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich. The highly-touted winger chose the University of Minnesota
over his hometown Wisconsin Badgers and other suitors that included Michigan and Boston University.
“I came to the decision in the last couple days,” he said surprising few, as various reports in recent days had pegged him as having already committed to the Gophers.
“It’s been real hard to make the decision,” admitted Kessel, who grew up in Madison and for a time, lived next door to Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez. “I woke up one morning and just felt that Minnesota was the best place for me.”
Kessel will be joining two of his USNTDP teammates, goaltender Jeff Frazee and forward Ryan Stoa, in the Twin Cities next year. Kessel is the leading scorer for the U.S. Under-18 team with 30 goals and 28 assists in 31 games this season.
The Red Line Report, an independent international scouting service, ranks the 6-foot, 185-pound 17-year-old number one among all players available for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.