"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
Last night Michigan picked up a commit from in-state 2016 C Austin Davis, a guy I don't think many people knew Michigan was even tracking. That, his currently-thin recruiting profile, and, frankly, his ears, have a certain brand of Michigan fan headed to Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork about this development.
…stop it. If there is a place where any Michigan coach has earned public opinion leeway, it is John Beilein recruiting three-star basketballists.
|3*, UR||3*, UR||3*, #27 C, #5 MI||NR||--|
Davis is on the sites' radars as a generic three star center, but only just.
Davis is consistently listed at 6'10" and depending on when you get the article, at anywhere from 240 to 260—he'll come in looking more like Ricky Doyle than DJ Wilson.
He is consistently among the FG% leaders at AAU tournaments, hitting 62% at "Unrivaled" in Chicago and 65% at the "Gauntlet" in Dallas just last week. There he impressed a number of observers. SpartanMag's Paul Konyndyk after Davis put up 16 and 10 (on ten shots) against Ike Anigbogu, who was just offered by UCLA:
That performance was among the best of the weekend for Davis, who outplayed rising Corona (CA) Centennial center Ike Anigbogu, who scored just seven points against the Mustangs. …
Davis is a skilled big man with good footwork, solid post moves, and the ability to finish with either hand. It is only a matter of time before the small school standout begins pilling up major conference offers.
That performance was just a couple days ago and got a lot of major schools' attention. Vandy's 247 site said to keep an eye on him as a "highly skilled post" who was "highly effective" and that the Commodores were intrigued. A Northwestern writer also highlighted him:
“He just gets [stuff] done,” said one assistant coach who watched Davis’ 16-point, 10-rebound, three-block game against the Compton Magic.
Davis isn’t the most athletic player or elite in any one area, but he’s a productive all-around player. He showed soft hands with the ball, and good touch on his hook shots. A handful of his points against the Magic came in 1-on-1 battles against Ike Anigbogu, one of the best post defenders on the Adidas circuit. Davis flashed good footwork on a hook shot against Anigbogu, and also beat him on the block a couple times.
On multiple occasions during the weekend’s games, Davis got the ball just outside the paint and patiently worked around a defender into the paint to score. He also scored several times in in back-to-the-basket situations, putting the ball on the floor and finishing nicely.
He was just 2 of 9 from the free throw line at the Gauntlet, so that's a thing to work on.
Davis is a pound-it-inside, power-dribble, finish from the block kind of guy. Sam Webb($):
Davis is a 6-10, 245 lb. throwback big. He is a true back-to-the-basket big man. On the in-state basketball scene he has earned the nickname “Big Country” after former Oklahoma State and then Vancouver Grizzlies standout Bryant “Big Country” Reeves. Davis lives in the paint, is best scoring over his left shoulder but has occasionally shown the ability to score over his right, can beat opponents with a good drop step as well, and has good hands in the post.
Davis himself on his proficiency down low:
What they saw was a guy that was really comfortable down on the blocks, where he showed he could finish well with either hand.
"My low post game has always been my major strength," said Davis. "I'm trying to improve my shooting. To be able step up and shoot threes a little bit. I've gotten better with high post jumpers."
He's working and working and working and putting things on the internet. He's also pretty aware of his deficiencies and what he has to do to remedy them:
“I definitely need to improve speed,” Davis said. “My foot quickness, stuff like that. I need to get into better shape. Those are a lot of the main areas, and just continuing to progress and getting stronger.”
Davis also spoke with Balanis about similarities he shares with Irish forward Zach Auguste and the strengths of his game.
“I’d consider myself very strong with my back to the basket and in the low post,” Davis said. “We’ve worked on expanding my game to be able to face up and my jump shot.”
Davis is also young. He is currently 16 and won't turn 17 until the end of the summer, so he'll arrive on campus days after hitting 18.
Michigan was the first major school to offer Davis; before that he had MAC offers and interest from big chunks of the Big Ten and Notre Dame. He took unofficials to Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa in addition to the in-state schools. Perusing various 247 content gives the impression that Wisconsin assistant Greg Gard was a major proponent of the guy. Gard is a good guy to have in your corner if you're a gawky high school post.
Davis is Class B Shaq:
The junior scored 45 points in a game on two occasions, and even had a triple-double with 33 points, 27 rebounds and 10 blocks. His averages of 26.2 points, 17.3 rebounds and 4.8 blocks per game earned him AP Class B Player of the Year honors in Michigan, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
Davis also had a 3.95 GPA as of last year.
There's a ton, from workouts when he was a freshman to Davis being high school Shaq at 6'2" guys going pro in something other than sports to full Onsted Wildcats games. In the Class B regional finals against Milan he opens the game with a missed dunk on an alley-oop.
This went up in January and is amongst the most recent:
This is from last summer:
As is this:
This went up in November:
The video shows a mostly below-the-rim big, and while this is highlight tape you can get some hints of things he does well. He makes a number of tough catches in these videos; he finishes with both hands from in a variety of situations; he seems to have good footwork with which to reposition for layups after a power dribble.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Posts are tough to project and Davis is tougher than most because of the level of competition he generally goes against. He'll probably take a redshirt and hit Camp Sanderson, whereupon the sluggishness that does show up on film (and is something Davis himself points out as his most pressing issue) should be mitigated. How much? I don't know. I do like bigs with good hands and the ability to finish with either.
With Doyle and Donnal in front of him plus Teske, Michigan can let Davis develop until he's a redshirt sophmore, whereupon he should have a productive, Jordan-Morgan-esque career.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan's going to have a lot of fouls to give at the five, I guess? They are currently scheduled to have this setup at center in 2016-17:
- Doyle, Jr.
- Donnal, Jr.*
- Teske, Fr.
- Davis, Fr.
And that's not even counting DJ Wilson, who could well be skrong like bull by then. So this is a weird commitment given the composition of Michigan's roster. I do like the prospect of a parade of upper-class bigs. It's likely that one of Teske or Davis ends up redshirting, which is a good thing for a project big who isn't likely to be on NBA radars. See: Jordan Morgan.
They have two scholarships definitely opening up (Albrecht and LeVert) from guards; they have filled those slots with posts. If they thought someone was transferring—which Beilein has explicitly said isn't happening and Webb re-asserted just today($)—they probably would have taken a swing at 2015 big Mike Edwards. Instead Edwards committed to Georgia after Michigan got Moritz Wagner.
There's almost certainly going to be some additional attrition that opens up a slot or two (Hatch, Irvin to the NBA, maybe guys who get lost in the shuffle this year) with which Michigan pursues a point guard and one of their 6'6" SG/SF archetypes. I would imagine post recruiting is done until 2018.
On today's roundtable we talk sneakers for a bit before segueing into a discussion about how terrific soccer is that is in no way disputed by Sam or Ira or Craig.
Also on the docket:
- Craig's autograph signing session at a Lima, Ohio yarn and hardware store. How did it go? Find out!
- Ed essentially challenges Jim Harbaugh to a kickboxing match
- Actual sports content!
THE USUAL LINKS
Ace is on vacation this week.
The Williams conundrum
I've mentioned this in a UV or two, but it warrants mention here due to Developments: Michigan is suddenly hot in the recruitment of VCU decommit Kenny Williams, a 2015 combo guard who is back on the market after Shaka Smart took the Texas job. Williams picked up a slew of Michigan Crystal Ball picks from insiders unconnected to M—usually a good sign if they're pros, as a few are—and then Beilein started tracking him in earnest.
Beilein is serious:
The Chesterfield, Virginia native confirmed to UMHoops.com that John Beilein plans to meet with the shooting guard now that he has been granted his release from the Rams.
“The plan is for him to come down this weekend,” Williams said in a text message to UM Hoops.
Other contenders include Georgetown, UNC, and Virginia. The kid is evidently very interested in Michigan, and Sam Webb reports that Beilein really likes him… and that Williams is not a contingency plan($). That stroke gets his attention.
Where does the scholarship come from? With wings and shooting guards cramming into the NBA draft and Caris LeVert slipping towards the tail end of the first round, it does not look like it'll be the NBA's doing. LeVert:
“I still have a ways before I can start running and jumping,” LeVert said. “Going out there tomorrow would probably be a stretch. … But I don’t have to do that. The combine isn’t tomorrow. I still have a couple more weeks to go. Hopefully in a couple weeks I’ll feel a little bit better.”
Additionally, LeVert admitted Wednesday night that if the second evaluation reveals he would likely be a second-round pick, he would most likely come back to school.
“I don’t think it really makes sense to go early and be drafted in the second round,” he said.
That is a nice change from Harris/Morris/Robinson, and if plugged in people feel that Caris is not a first-rounder after his injury and the pile of early entries the needle points to him staying on scholarship. So it seems likely at this point that if Williams does commit, Hatch will transition to a medical scholarship.
What about Jaylen Brown? If Williams wants to commit it looks like Michigan will check back with Brown just in case he wants to drop, and in the highly likely scenario he doesn't they'll take the bird in the hand.
Where does playing time come from? I can't answer that one. Even without Williams next year's roster is jam-packed.
On campus right now
Offered MI K/P Quinn Nordin is in Ann Arbor as you read this. Nordin may be the top kicker in the country. Though you hear that about every kicker Michigan recruits, Nordin has 20 offers—an absolute ton for a specialists. Nordin's announced that he plans on attending MSU's spring game on the 25th so a commit is probably not in the offing, but Brandon Peters was supposed to hold off on his Michigan commitment and that didn't happen.
Michigan could have an edge since Nordin is affiliated with Kornblue kicking, and Brandon Kornblue is a Michigan alum. Since Michigan's offer, a pile of predictions have come in for M, including Ace's.
True story: when we were in college doing dumb college things one of them was voting with forks. One of the house rules was "one man, one fork" and people would express approval by exclaiming "forks up!"
This is again relevant to my life because occasionally I read articles about Arizona State recruiting pitches. This one was made to VA WR JJ Givens:
"I know for sure I'm going to Arizona State and Michigan this summer. The whole forks up mantra at Arizona State excites me, It's a program I grew up watching. With Michigan, I just love everything about them. They just got Harbaugh as their coach, they have NFL experience now. I look up to Jabrill Peppers and I work out with Derrick Green here a lot in Virginia."
Oh and Givens seems to really like the idea of Michigan. Michigan has offered, though these days they're emphatically on board the "offer everyone and let God sort 'em out" train, so it's hard to tell how high he is on their board.
I was there and it was nice
Eifler showing off his bowling score, the highest ever recorded
Scout has react from five-star CA LB Camilo Eifler, who has just returned from a tour of a number of East Coast schools($). Most interestingly for Michigan's 2015 team, Eifler describes Michigan's SAM spot as a return to the 4-3 under:
“I would most likely the WILL or MIKE position, just because their SAM is more like a two point end that rushes the passer mostly.”
So keep that in mind.
As far as Eifler's trip, it went well, getting the "blown away" headline designation. Eifler's chosen visits imply Michigan's academics are a real factor: other than M he took in Duke, Vandy, Northwestern, and Louisville. Those first three are the kind of visits you only take as a five-star if you are serious about the education thing. Eifler($):
“Most of the schools that I visited were academic schools. That’s just what I want,” said Eifler. “I want to a school to have football and academics. Michigan showed me the academic side, but also with the power football behind it that some of the other schools just didn’t have. It was good to see what it is like to be part of that.”
USC has not offered and he seems a bit miffed about that; Oregon doesn't seem like a huge factor right now… he seems very much in play. Washington has the only two predictions for him on the Crystal Ball.
Crawford still talking M
CA WR Dylan Crawford now seems like a longer shot since the "KJ Costello brings half of California with him" plan was derailed by accursed Stanford, but Michigan remains a school of major interest:
"I want to get to Oregon for sure," Crawford said. "I'm still waiting on that offer. I would also like to visit Michigan again, either unofficially or officially. Right now, I'm wide open and don't even have a top 10 yet but the plan is to narrow things down in the summer and then commit at the end of the summer."
Crawford was being interviewed about his recent trip to… yes, Stanford. And don't expect his commitment-type substance to be final:
Matt Falcon's coach on Michigan's newest commitment($):
"First of all, he's as fast as anyone around," Conley said sternly. "On the track he's setting records in the indoor 200m races and when you see him out there and he's 50 or 60 pounds heavier than the these other kids that he's running against and he's beating or tying them it's just really impressive. He is definitely a great talent. …
"What I like about Matt is that he can do a lot of things," Conley said. "Whenever we'd have a hard time blocking for him we were able to throw the ball to him because he catches it so well. He's incredible at catching the ball out of the backfield. His skill set at catching the ball is one of the best I've ever seen. We plan on using him a lot and want to put a lot of pressure on defenses. He can be really dangerous at Michigan depending on how they develop up front."
That skill will be an asset at Michigan, as Harbaugh loves those five-wide sets with base personnel. That kind of flexibility will be attractive when it comes to playing time. (And is going to be really interesting when it comes to Ty Isaac this year.)
The distant future, the year 2000
I have a policy of studiously ignoring all sophomore-and-younger offers unless given a specific reason to pay attention. This from Cass Tech 2017 safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell counts:
"I grew up in a Michigan household," Kelly-Powell began. "My Dad is a diehard Michigan fan. He named me after his favorite Michigan basketball player, Jalen Rose. I love Michigan also."
He'll be a guy to keep an eye on. Current 180th in 247's insanely early rankings for that year.
Etc.: It's too bad IN ATH Toks Akinribade is probably a tailback according to his coach($), because TOKS AKINRIBADE. Michigan is likely full at RB.
Previously: Zak Irvin
Along with his reputation as an offensive guru, John Beilein’s become well-known at Michigan for his ability to discover under-the-radar recruits and turn them into stars.* Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas are the most-oft cited examples (along with Caris LeVert, who, like Burke and Stauskas, could become an eventual first-round draft pick), but Beilein’s found success in fleshing out his rotations with mid- or low-major recruits. In the last four recruiting cycles, Michigan developed a penchant for adding late-bloomers near the end of their senior seasons: in 2011, Max Bielfeldt; in 2012, Spike Albrecht and LeVert; in 2014, Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.
*He’s also known for recruiting sons of famous NBA players and Dawkins continues that lineage.
Because of unexpected attrition and injuries to key players, Michigan’s best five-man lineup in the last month of the season featured four of those late additions: Spike, Mo, Aubrey, and Max. Though all four were seemingly recruited as depth guys, they often played as many as 30 minutes per game down the stretch. Michigan’s frustrating season quickly became unburdened from expectation and silver linings were actively sought for and discovered over the last two months of the season.
Aubrey Dawkins was the most encouraging of those “weird guys.” Before Caris LeVert’s injury in the waning seconds of the first Northwestern game, Dawkins averaged just 8.6 minutes per game and even though he was Michigan’s best player in the conference opener (hitting six threes and totaling 20 points on 9 shot equivalents), Aubrey wasn’t given much playing time. After LeVert went down, his minutes skyrocketed:
Despite taking a prep year and only fielding scholarship offers from Dayton, Cal Poly, College of Charleston, Northeastern, and Rhode Island, Dawk emerged as a high-ceiling prospect and a valuable rotational member going forward – simply put, he can get buckets and he can get them efficiently.
* * *
Checking the Eye-Test
Once he broke into the starting lineup, Dawkins’s strengths and weaknesses became quite evident. The NBA fetishizes so-called “3-and-D” prospects – players who fit neatly into the new wave of spread pick-and-roll offenses (which Michigan emulates to a certain extent) across the league. Providing spacing is an increasingly valuable trait; a guy has solid offensive value if he can stand on the perimeter and shoot 40% from three, even if he can’t do much more than that. Throw in credible (or better) defense on the wing, and you have a 3-and-D player – rapidly rising salary numbers for those types emphasize their perceived value.
Dawkins isn’t one of those guys, though he could possibly get there. His defense was bad across the board: Beilein hesitated to give him playing time early in the season and in hindsight, it’s easy to see why – he was frequently lost on the defensive end, prone to ball-watching, easily shed on screens, and beaten as the on-ball defender. His rebounding numbers were disappointing and he averaged about half a steal and half a block after his ascension to the starting lineup. Theoretically, Dawkins could develop into an adequate defender (or maybe even better than that), but as of right now, he’s decidedly a minus.
If he eventually does progress significantly as a defender – which is definitely possible – he has the offensive tools to fit the 3-and-D mold. He shot a healthy 43% from three on 88 attempts despite a funky, though consistent, release: his length and leaping ability allows him to soar over contesting defenders and he flicks the ball towards the rim with a low trajectory – almost like a shot in beer pong. Beilein drew up some sets to get Dawkins some elbow jumpers and he hit them well enough to overcome the inherent inefficiency of long twos. The “3” aspect of the 3-and-D player is definitely there and he’s shown he could handle high volume – Dawkins shot 46% on 4.5 attempts per game after cracking the rotation.
Like Tim Hardaway, another 3-and-D-without-the-D pro legacy, Dawkins can jump out of the gym, possibly his best hint towards a potential (though unlikely) pro career. I mean, just watch this emasculating throwdown over 6’11 Nnanna Egwu (and it’s impossible to watch just once). More importantly, he’s successful around the rim even when he isn’t dunking – Dawk shot 61% at the rim, per Shot Analytics. He can’t create off the bounce – remarkably, his assist rate was lower than Zak Irvin’s freshman year – but he’s clever cutting off the ball and gets close-range attempts that way (and in the same vein, Dawkins is excellent at moving around the arc to set up open looks from three). He’s a one-dimensional player: a scorer who needs to be set up by others. With Michigan’s bevy of players who can create, that’s perfectly alright.
[Hit the JUMP for the rest of the analysis]
thanks to Patrick's drone title is close to literally true [Patrick Barron]
One of the frequent criticisms of the Brandon obit was that it was all napalm. I admit that. That post wasn't supposed to do anything except document the era we'd just gone through.
When I did that I got a lot of requests of varying politeness levels for an alternate vision of the athletic department. This series of posts seeks to lay one out.
First some base principles:
- Michigan isn't leaving the conference and has to work within the confines of the new Big Ten. If this was "conference commissioner time" I would immediately exile Maryland and Rutgers; it's not.
- Michigan is also working within the realities of the current NCAA. Massive changes to amateurism are beyond the scope here.
- Ditto Title IX.
We can look at some base assumptions: that profit is a main indicator of health, that the primary "customers" of an athletic department are the athletes, that you should follow Industry Best Practices so that you can point to them when someone questions a decision you made. We're just trying to work within the system we've got, as goofy as it is.
First: what are we trying to do here?
Michigan's athletic department is many things to many people: marketing for the university, jobs for people directly affiliated and not (hi), a connection to college, a path to an education, an entertainment activity. I've tried to boil things down to the core things, and those seem to be:
- graduate athletes
- win games
- sustain the enterprise
Aside from a blip during the RR/Carr transition Michigan seems to be doing fine with #1 across all sports. Hypothetical athletic director wouldn't have to change a thing there. #2 amounts to "hire good coaches," which is very important and not very interesting to talk about. You and I both agree that it's a better idea to hire Jim Harbaugh than someone else. The end.
Sustaining the enterprise is where athletic directors vary the most and have the most influence. You can play Texas A&M if you're Texas… or not. You can have the most expensive student ticket prices in the conference… or not. You can build a palace for a non-revenue sport… or not.
Sustaining the enterprise is a mixture of generating revenue and maintaining and expanding your fanbase. Don't charge enough and you can't retain your coaches or build the latest fantabulous doohickey to keep up with the Joneses. Charge too much, as Michigan did with their student tickets, and you start eating your seed corn as people drop out of the ticket-buying section of the fanbase—and possibly altogether, long term.
Maintaining or expanding a fanbase isn't just about numbers, either: it's about depth of connection. When the Pistons hit their Joe Dumars Is Definitely Crazy Now period, the Palace emptied out like someone letting the air out of the balloon. Michigan has a much deeper connection with most of its fans and weathered a decade of play that was not much fun at all until the bottom dropped out last year. (Ace is doing some work on Bacon's book and has access to the numbers. They are staggering. WRITE FASTER BACON.)
If hypothetical alternate universe athletic director is going to sustain the enterprise he has to be thinking about creating that connection. Sports fans can be a weird lot: part customer, part captive, part fanatic. The whole point of sports is to be of a tribe. I can say "1997 Penn State" and you will have an emotional response. We can see someone in an Andy Katzenmoyer jersey and have that same response. Balancing the new with the old is difficult but mandatory, and if you don't you can end up with a rebellion on your hands. SBNation has an excellent article on the tumultuous recent history of AS Roma, a Serie A team recently purchased by some Americans who found themselves in for a major culture shock when the Roma "ultras" walked out of the stadium en masse:
The Americani may build Roma their new stadium, they may manage to push reform of the Italian league, curb fan violence, expand their marketing reach, and lure millions of tourists to watch Roma each Sunday. But if they have any chance of really succeeding at breaking the peculiar quagmire that is Italian soccer, they will need to heed the lesson from the Curva Sud. When the ultras walked out of the Stadio Olimpico, the Curva Sud did not just demonstrate that they would not support a team that does not win. Rather, they showed Roma’s American owners that they cannot be taken for granted. They are not merely a “fan base.” They are not a “target audience” or “core ticket buyers.” They are not untapped consumer demand lying in wait for better marketing, an international brand, or a more packaged game day experience.
By walking out, the Curva Sud showed that they are not customers. For better or worse, they are Roma. And without them, the Americani have nothing.
Roma's ultras are hooligans taken to the nth degree. They're also a reason that Roma means anything to anyone when Serie A attendance is in tatters. It is far clearer in Euro soccer that the fans have some form of ownership. While Roma is particularly extreme, Michigan's students demonstrated that if sufficiently pissed off they can effect change.
This is the point at which people get pissed off enough. Television's primacy has provided an alternative and degraded the in-game experience. It has also homogenized things. The history of college football nonconference scheduling over the past 20 years tells the story well enough: there was a great thing that built up a lot of goodwill, that goodwill was completely mined out by a series of spreadsheet robots, and now someone has to build that goodwill back.
Hypothetical athletic director's main goal is to figure out what went wrong between the department and the fanbase and set about making the experience of being a Michigan fan one that is peerless. Actual athletic director seemed to not think about this one iota, and thus he is in Scottsdale watching Wrath of Khan over and over again.
I didn't know this was a thing. The NBA kids these days and their "popcorning."
— Nik Stauskas (@NStauskas11) April 14, 2015
That is Nik Stauskas splayed upon the counter in his popcorn-covered home. Urban Dictionary doesn't know what "popcorning" is (top result: "One of the ways a guinea pig shows his/her excitement/affection") and neither do I. Apparently it has something to do with the fact that Stauskas doesn't drive?
I feel like everything about Stauskas's NBA career has gone through the same filter that created "Sauce Castillo."
A brief essay on Sauce Castillo. It was a tweet at first, with a picture to verify. It took off as these things do, and then the Kings stepped in wholeheartedly. They had a friggin' Sauce Castillo night.
This is probably a good idea for the Kings. They are on top of what is happening on The Social Media and provide some intrigue for an early April game played by a team currently 38 games back of the Warriors. (But seven ahead of the Lakers!) They sold some merch, I imagine. A brief survey of the Kings organization shows a marketing savvy that's a bit of a shock for someone focused on colleges that are doing it right if they aren't shooting themselves in the foot monthly. The Kings are the future, when people at the top of organizations actually understand the internet and act accordingly.
And that's a little sad. A few years ago Sauce Castillo would have been a mark of something… probably that you read Bethlehem Shoals and are the kind of NBA obsessive who needs to find similarly-minded groups of proto-marxist revolutionary cells. Now Sauce Castillo is joyously accepted by the organization at large and thus destroyed.
Man I feel like an old man in Portland complaining that Sleater-Kinney's latest album ruins their entire career right now. But it is kind of a thing: there is a lot of value in defining yourself as a separate, weirder in-group in a mass of fans. MLS and the ever-shifting power struggle between various USMNT supporter's groups do a good job of this; the rest of American sports doesn't.
That will have to come from elsewhere in the Kingsfuture when every mildly diverting tweet is swiftly assimilated by the entertainment Borg.
LeVert update. Holding pattern for Michigan but one in which the arrows continue to point the right way. Chad Ford's advocating a return:
He should return. His draft stock was trending down before he was injured. Not sure he'd be a first rounder if he declared. He'd need excellent workouts.
Among underclassmen at LeVert's positions -- shooting guard and small forward -- to declare early are Kentucky's Devin Booker and Aaron Harrison, Arizona's Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kansas' Kelly Oubre, Wisconsin's Sam Dekker, Florida's Michael Frazier II, Eastern Washington's Tyler Harvery, Georgia State's R.J. Hunter, Houston's Jherrod Stiggers, Florida State's Aaron Thomas, North Carolina's J.P. Tokoto and UNLV's Rashad Vaughn.
Other wings expected to declare for the draft include Duke's Justise Winslow and Arizona's Stanley Johnson. Mario Hezonja, a 6-foot-7 small forward from Croatia, is also a projected lottery pick.
"Jherrod Stiggers" is a spectacular name.
Let's maybe hold off on that for one sec. After his commitment, Matt Falcon takes a cue from the Lawrence Marshall playbook:
Right now, he says he's focused on three-star receiver Dez Fitzpatrick and four-star defensive lineman Khalid Kareem.
His pitch to them both is pretty simple.
"The best players in the state play for Michigan," Falcon says. "I'm trying to recruit names in the state and trying to get them to join the family."
I mean, continue to do that. Just expect MSUThaBest2009 to be on your case as you do so.
Hello: Samuelssons. I don't have to tell you this is a hockey recruiting bullet, do I? You just saw "Samuelssons" and assumed we were talking about some Swedes, be they from Sweden or relocated.
Well done, reader: Michigan hockey has secured commitments from depressingly young hockey players once again. This time they are the sons of former NHL defenseman Kjell Samuelsson. The older one, Matthias, is a defenseman. Over The Boards scouts:
RE: Samuelsson, Big 00 D at 6'2 190, strong lower body, imposes will with leverage. Has a hard shot and piles up SOG. Soft hands in own end.
— Mark Bilotta (@mbilotta) April 13, 2015
He is… uh… 14 and his dad is 6'7" so I would expect him to be very large indeed by the time he reaches campus. Luke Samuelsson, his brother, also committed as a 2018 forward. I haven't been able to find anything on him yet, as you might expect in this age range.
Meanwhile in draft hijinks. Not much in the way of intrigue in this year's OHL draft; Michigan's commitments that far out are generally already signed up with the NTDP. There weren't any unpleasant surprises this year. Michael Pastujov, the younger brother of NTDP-er Nick Pastujov, was drafted by Saginaw in the fourth round on a flier. Michael was projected as a top pick—possibly the top pick—in the draft and slid significantly because of concerns over his commitment. Saginaw is not noted as a team that snipes random Americans.
Toronto-based forward Quinn Hughes, also projected as a top ten pick, slid to the third round. Hughes has dual citizenship and is already committed to the NTDP; his father also works in an NHL front office so they're well aware of the pros and cons of each route. Josh Norris went in the sixth round to Niagara.
How does the seemingly imminent retirement of Red Berenson play into these recruitments? I don't know. Michigan has to be telling these kids that it's unlikely Red is around in 2018, so the far-future ones seem somehow more secure than those who might be making decisions in a year or two. I expect there's some attrition when the change is made; how much is hard to tell.