Commit Watch: Milton Close to a Decision
Four-star FL QB Joe Milton is ready to make his decision:
With recent visits to Florida, Georgia, and Michigan in the books, Milton is looking to possibly pull the trigger and commit to a school in order to focus on his spring campaign.
“I am thinking this week one day or like the start of next week,” Milton explained. “I am not trying to put a specific date on it but sometime soon. I just am looking for the right school that fits me.”
According to the four-star passer, his finalists are Florida, Georgia, Michigan, and Tennessee.
At this point, all signs point to Michigan, which has every pick on Milton's crystal ball made in the last month. Florida was the one-time favorite but Milton mentions in the article linked above that their contact with him "sometimes falls off." Georgia, the other school thought to be in seroius contention, just extended an offer to quarterback Tyler Shough, which Steve Lorenz says is indicative of where Milton's recruitment is going. Milton could drop any day now, though in a video interview with Scout's Jacquie Franciulli released today he mentioned he may think on it for a couple more weeks.
Michigan is still pushing for Shough, as well, and he told Lorenz he's not worried about any potential competition in the class:
"The coaches have talked to me about possibly taking two guys," Shough told Wolverine247 on Wednesday. "I am more than willing to compete for a job anywhere no matter how many guys I am up against."
Sounds like a Harbaugh guy.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
"Access to the legal system requires money; also that was holding." [Fuller]
The most interesting man in the world. Jim Harbaugh is (probably) the only football coach in history to land a Politico interview and come off more educated on the topic of said interview than most elected officials:
Politico: What was the response to the tweet when you sent it out?
Harbaugh: Mostly positive, varying to some degree of people’s awareness. There's issues that people just don't understand. One of the biggest issues that got me most fired up is how fines and fees are being used to punish the poor. I've learned how the devastating effect it can have on lives of low income Americans. I mean across the country 48 states have increased civil court fees since 2010 and they're using those fees to pay for government services and not just courts but roads and generating millions and in some states billions of dollars.
But basically the crux of it is when people can't afford to pay a fine or a fee for things like a speeding ticket or municipal violation then they get additional fees. Late fees can start piling up and these fees can double, triple, quadruple the total amount due and if somebody has an inability to pay that fine that can quickly snowball into a driver's license suspension or driver time. People aren't even able to go to work. So you can't pay a fine or a fee and then you lose your driver's license. You're not able to get to a job, and a lot of people, I mean, they’ve got to work.
Also Harbaugh quotes the Federalist Papers in this interview. It is quite an object, the interview.
Bamba (center) yukking it up with fellow BOYCOTT THIS COMPANY
A version of reality including this guy would be nice. Brendan Quinn hits up the [Boycott This Company Until There Is At Least One Ugly Person In Any Of Their Commercials Ever] All-American Game, to focus on the guy Michigan is recruiting: Mo Bamba. Nobody thinks Michigan is actually going to get this dude but MAYBE:
"There's a significant difference between greed and hunger," he said. "When you're greedy, you just want things. That's your only need. But when you're hungry for things, it's a mixture of need and want, which is more logical to me."
Bamba is a different cat, it appears, and hopefully that will take him to Michigan instead of the one-and-done factories down south. I mean, it's not going to. But maybe! But no.
If he did do the thing he isn't going to do that would be kind of good though?
With my own eyes, I saw Bamba grab a rebound near the shot clock during Tuesday's practice. I mean, I think I saw it. Watching Bamba can sometimes feel like bearing witness to Paul Bunyan swing an ax. The facial expressions of the NBA scouts sitting baseline told the story of this young man's mythology. After watching Bamba stretch, a veteran sportswriter covering the event approached me to say: "He's got joints I don't have."
Bamba sees himself as a stretch four and if there's anyone on the planet who can effectively sell his development of enormous inside-outside guys it's John Beilein. Dude has two 6'10"+ potential first round picks* collectively shooting 38% from three on his roster. Neither was as highly recruited as Bamba, to say the least.
Yes, this section has been a waste of time. Unless! But no.
Chris Collins might not be nice, but it's the system that rewards him. It wouldn't be worth mentioning except for the fact that so many people went to Medill and enjoyed telling us about pristine Northwestern being everything that's right with college athletics, usually two seconds after they slammed Jim Harbaugh. But since they exist and they did:
On February 3, 2015, the Northwestern men's basketball team somberly walked to the visiting locker room of the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska, after a 16-point loss to the Cornhuskers.
The team, now 1-8 in the Big Ten, sat down to meet, as it always does after games. Coach Chris Collins, then in his second season at Northwestern, turned to freshman point guard Johnnie Vassar.
According to Vassar and another person who was present, Collins yelled, "Johnnie, you fucking suck."
By any reasonable standard, Vassar had little to do with Northwestern's struggles. A seldom-used reserve, he had played one garbage-time minute against the Huskers. Yet, according to Vassar and another person who was present, Collins continued to berate the backup guard.
That's VICE's Kevin Trahan at the beginning of a lengthy article describing the lengths Collins took to get Vassar off his team, which took some doing in the era of four-year guaranteed scholarships but was nonetheless accomplished. It was accomplished by forcing Vassar into a demeaning "internship" that was mostly janitorial work and then juking timecards to boot him. One catch, via a D-I compliance officer:
"You can't push them off to another obligation," the official said. "There's nowhere in the NCAA manual that says anything about that. If they say, 'you need to do 40 community service hours,' no, you don't. It doesn't say anything about that." Another NCAA Division I school compliance official confirmed that analysis to VICE Sports.
Northwestern booted Vassar off the team after a year and then did whatever they had to in order to get his scholarship available again. Chris Collins seems like an incredible dick in the process. And not even a competent one:
One card spells Vassar's name wong; one has only another person's name on it (with that person's name crossed out); one says "Johnnie V" and has another crossed-out name; one is blank; and three have Vassar's name spelled correctly, but in handwriting that appears to be different than Vassar's.
None of this is news; what is news is that Vassar refused to suck it up and go quietly despite it being much, much easier to take the hint and move on. I admire that bullheadedness. Someone's gotta be Curt Flood.
The Vassar story once again exposes how the NCAA's terrible incentives force players and coaches into adversarial relationships annually. You should not be surprised if dicks like Chris Collins do well in a system that is set up to reward dick behavior. It forced John Beilein into similar last year when he no doubt encouraged Aubrey Dawkins and Ricky Doyle to find greener pastures.
A solution to Vassar's problem should be easy: allow him to keep his scholarship without impacting how many scholarship kids Northwestern can recruit. That costs money, and that's historically been a stumbling block because the SWAC and Colonial type schools without any outnumber those in power conferences; with autonomy there should be nothing stopping the Power 5 from allowing someone cut from a team to continue on scholarship, medical hardship or no.
Speaking of non-Bamba options and transfers. Per Some Guy, Michigan is on Washington PF Noah Dickerson's list of potential destinations as he transfers away from Washington.
Dickerson doesn't look like a great fit: he's not a stretch four in any way—he is 1/10 on threes in his career and his 68% FT rate last year does not suggest he's a butterfly waiting inside a pupa—and would likely have to play the 5 at Michigan, where he'd join Teske and Davis as 5-only contemporaries.
OTOH, he drew a buttload of fouls and was an excellent rebounder and interior scorer. The most fun thing about him is wondering how you have the #1 pick in the NBA draft and a dude with an 115 ORTG on average usage who pulls down rebounds at an 11%/23% rate and go 9-22. Lorenzo Romar, man.
Exit Melo Trimble. The Maryland guard is headed for the NBA draft and will hire an agent, figuring that another year under Mark Turgeon isn't going to get him solidly in the first round. The locals are a little cheesed off:
With 1,658 career points to his name, he would've had a chance to chase the No. 1 spot on the school's career scoring list next season, but he'll pursue a professional career rather than local immortality.
He probably figures that when you lose in the first round as a six seed in the NBA nobody gets on your case.
Livers has a smooth, consistent release. [Bryan Fuller]
My trip last Thursday to Kalamazoo didn't quite go as planned. 2017 hoops commit Isaiah Livers and Kalamazoo Central lost an overtime thriller to 2017 MSU commit Xavier Tillman and undefeated Grand Rapids Christian. I spent the game filming from the stands and planned to deliver a detailed scouting report once I had a chance to go back over the video; the bulk of the video got corrupted.
So this is going to be a little shorter and lighter on detail than I hoped. Maize & Go Blue's Sam Sedlecky, who was also in attendance, helpfully jotted down stats while I was too busy working the camera to take notes. Livers tallied 10 points (2/7 2P, 2/4 3P), 5 rebounds (with one impressive offensive board), 2 blocks, 3 steals, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, and 4 fouls.
Livers got off to a hot start, scoring seven points in the first quarter. He picked up his second and third fouls in quick succession in the second quarter, however, and never fully regained his rhythm in the second half.
It was still easy to see what John Beilein likes in Livers. He played within the confines of Central's offense; his one assist doesn't fairly represent his court vision and willingness to share the rock—if anything, he was too deferential at times. He displayed a fundamentally sound, consistent shooting form; his release is a touch long, but his size and elevation on his jumper helps cover for that, and he can shoot both spotting up or off the bounce.
Livers didn't get much going towards the basket in this game, likely due to his foul trouble and the interior presence of Tillman, who had five or six blocks and altered several other shots. While he's a good ballhandler for a 6'8" forward, he couldn't consistently get past opposing defenders off the dribble—he had the ball swiped away a couple times, including on a critical turnover in the late stages. He looks like he'll be a three-and-D player initially while he refines his offensive skill set.
His defense looked like a strength, especially in transition and on weakside help—those two situations are how he accrued his two blocks, one of which was an impressive chasedown on a fast break. He's got active hands, which had good and bad results in this game; he can be very disruptive but has to be better at picking his spots, especially once he has a foul or two. He showed the ability to stick with smaller players on the perimeter, which will be important—his best shot at contributing as a freshman is to show he can guard threes and stretch fours.
I'd like to see more of Livers before coming to a conclusion about his chances of cracking the rotation next year. Based on what I've seen of him so far, I like his chances of doing so. He looks like a natural spot-up shooter and he possesses the athleticism to develop into an excellent player on both ends. While he's not quite as big, he's got a similar skill set to DJ Wilson. Like Wilson, he's going to need to gain the strength to hold up inside and resist the temptation to float around the perimeter. Unlike Wilson, I think he can be a year-one contributor as a backup 3/4 so long as he shows some comfort in the offense.
The Post Defense Was... Good?
Michigan put up a surprisingly strong fight in the post. [Patrick Barron]
I don't think I was alone in thinking Wisconsin, boasting two strong post scorers in Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes, would crush Michigan in the paint on Tuesday night. Instead, Michigan limited the Happ/Hayes duo to shooting a combined 8-for-20 on two-pointers with six assists and four turnovers; they were the two least-efficient players among Badgers to play at least 12 minutes.
I went back through the game and pulled clips of every Wisconsin possession that went through the post. While Happ missed a couple makeable shots, Michigan generally played strong post defense, with both DJ Wilson and Moe Wagner standing out for the good:
Given how Michigan has played defense this year, the first thing that jumps out is their effort; they scrapped for post position, didn't give up on plays, and hit the deck for rebounds.
Wilson gave up an easy bucket to Hayes early when he got caught napping on a cut (0:29 mark) and couldn't recover in time to deny prime post position. He otherwise did quite well; he blocked Happ twice and forced a Hayes miss shortly after the aforementioned bucket by establishing good position and forcing him to spin for a tough left-handed attempt.
While Wagner wasn't quite as strong in the post, which allowed Happ to get good position on him multiple times, he used his hands quite well to disrupt Happ on the way up and pulled off the subtle "step in and bump the guy with your chest" thing that often throws off shots and rarely draws a whistle (0:39, 2:23). A couple paint baskets weren't on the bigs, either; I didn't include Vitto Brown getting isolated on Duncan Robinson, which ended in a layup (surprise!), and on the final clip Robinson rotates over to the open big way too late.
The notable exception to M's strong interior defense: Mark Donnal, who gave up an and-one and fouled Happ on the floor just before he could give up another on his two post defense possessions before getting yanked.
In his lone opportunity, Jon Teske gave up a second-chance bucket when he lost contact with Happ after an offensive rebound. I'd still like to see more of him out there; Donnal was physically overwhelmed on defense and once again a non-factor on offense, so Beilein might as well let his behomoth freshman big man work through his mistakes—Teske is much more likely to display significant in-season improvement than a guy in his fourth year in the program.
Michigan still had their fair share of defensive breakdowns, which I'll get to momentarily. That said, this was an encouraging performance on that end of the floor, especially in the paint. If the Wolverines can replicate that level of effort on defense while getting offensive outputs like they have in their non-Wisconsin Big Ten games, they can make a late tourney push. It's a huge if, of course, but it's hard not to feel better about this team after Tuesday night despite the loss.
[Hit THE JUMP for the aforementioned breakdowns, highlights of a couple 2017 commits, and more.]
The basketball program apparently wanted in on Commitmas, too. Michigan picked up their first hoops commit for 2018 yesterday when three-star Detroit East English Village Prep point guard David DeJulius chose the Wolverines mere days after getting the offer, which came on the heels of DeJulius pouring in 46 points in front of John Beilein.
While a Michigan offer didn't materialize until this week, Beilein had his eye on DeJulius for a long time, per TMI's Brice Marich:
“They have always been recruiting me, but just offered me a week ago,” DeJulius told The Michigan Insider. “I always grew up wanting to go to Michigan and I wanted to commit then when they offered, but I wanted to think and make sure it wasn’t just from my emotions. I wanted to think it through and make sure I was making the right decision. There is no better decision than this because it is such a great environment, great education and great program.
DeJulius said Beilein has watched him play "like 20 times" dating back to his freshman year, and assistant coach Saddi Washington was recruiting him back when Washington was at Oakland.
DeJulius is the first commit in the 2018 class. There's room for two more as the scholarship count currently stands; it's near-inevitable that one or two more spots will open up. He's the third point guard Michigan has taken in three classes, following freshman Xavier Simpson and 2017 commit Eli Brooks.
|4*, 83, #22 PG||
3*, 89, #22 PG,
3*, #32 PG,
Rankings for the 2018 class are all over the place as the various services catch up on scouting prospects. ESPN is the highest on DeJulius but has nothing in the way of a scouting report; Scout gave him a cursory two stars; Rivals and 247 split the difference.
DeJulius is listed between 6'0" (Scout, 247) and 6'2" (ESPN) and 188-190 pounds. While he's probably a point guard, at least primarily, he could slide over to the two in Beilein's system as well.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]
Michigan's picked up their first 2018 commit, in-state PG David DeJulius. This is an old-school Beilein commit: early and somewhat unheralded, though he is a four-star on ESPN. Most other places have him a three star around #150. This courtship was a quick one, as he was just offered three days ago after Beilein saw him blow the doors off:
Following Saturday’s 98-49 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore, Michigan coach John Beilein would’ve been hard-pressed to witness a better offensive performance.
But hours later, Beilein watched Detroit East English Village junior point guard David DeJulius put on a show with 46 points on 13-for-17 shooting, including 9-for-11 on 3-pointers, in a 79-63 win over Macomb Dakota at Southfield A&T High’s “Battle of the Best” holiday tournament.
That got him his offer and he wasn't long in accepting it.
Ace will have a fuller post tomorrow, when the impending announcement of FL LB Jordan Anthony doesn't overlap.