Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
Possesses excellent dunkface (via PennLive)
First reported by Sam Webb and confirmed by multiple sources, 2014 Allentown (PA) Central Catholic G Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman committed to Michigan while on his official visit this afternoon.
Abdur-Rahkman picked up heavy interest from the Wolverines as they prepared for the potential losses of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III; once those two declared for the NBA Draft, MAAR's recruitment hit the fast track. He becomes the fifth member of Michigan's 2014 class, joining Kam Chatman, Ricky Doyle, Austin Hatch, and DJ Wilson.
|3*, NR SG||NR SG||2*, 64, #101 SG||NR SG||NR SG|
As one would expect from a prospect picked up as a late-cycle contingency plan, MAAR flew under the radar of most of the recruiting services, with only ESPN even bothering give him a complete ranking—and they don't even list his weight. The other sites are in relative agreeance regarding his measurables; all list him at 180 pounds, with Rivals and 247 pegging him at 6'4" and Scout shaving off an inch.
Unsurprisingly, scouting reports on a largely overlooked prospect are hard to come by—there's not a single scouting-related article on him on Rivals, Scout, or 247. ESPN's evaluation was last updated in June 2013, so while it gives us a starting point, it doesn't include any progress MAAR made during his senior season [emphasis mine]:
He's extremely versatile with the size and length to offer minutes at any of the three perimeter positions, and is a match-up problem virtually anywhere on the court because he's capable of making plays for himself and others over top of smaller guards and has the speed, quickness, and handle to go by most bigger wings. He's equally versatile defensively where his size, length, and ability to cover the court might even be bigger weapons.
He's a dribble drive player on the offensive end, and not yet a consistent outside shooter. That flaw in his offensive repertoire is likely to be exposed much more at the next level when the game slows down and he's not able to get out in the open floor with the same frequency. Even at that, he's going to be much more effective in an up-tempo system at the next level.
He has a very intriguing combination of size, length, quickness, and smooth handle but he's going to have to continue to get more skilled on the perimeter in order for his game to translate as well to the college level.
The inconsistent jump-shooting is a concern for any guard coming in to play for John Beilein, though MAAR's drive-oriented game at the very least gives U-M a different type of player to put out there, especially if he lives up to his reputation as a defensive stopper.
The most recent, thorough analysis of Michigan's latest addition comes from UMHoops, which posted a scouting report on MAAR this week, as well as the video embedded later in this post. The whole thing is obviously worth your time; Dylan praises his transition game and passing ability, sees room for improvement in his shooting and ballhandling, and comes away with this conclusion:
Abdur-Rahkman might not be the traditional Beilein wing, but he would bring a lot of things to Michigan’s backcourt that are currently lacking. He looks like a natural fit to play the two-guard spot, but down the line he could potentially slide to the three or the one. Michigan’s inability to contain dribble penetration last season was no secret and Abdur-Rahkman might be able to shore up some of those concerns – especially down the line. He’s already physically mature (he’ll turn 20 in September) which means he could be ready to play at a college level, but also that he’s been able to bully younger players at the high school level.
That last bit means MAAR is probably closer to his ceiling than your average incoming freshman, which can be a benefit in the short-term but does add some concern for how much he'll improve over the long haul.
Sam Webb asked Abdur-Rahkman for a self-evaluation this week, and he had no issue noting the areas of his game that need improvement ($):
I’m more of a facilitator, get in the lane, drive and kick, find the big guys inside. I can play defense. I’m a good defender – perimeter. I can shoot a little bit…I need to get better. Dribbling better, but need to get better. Midrange is pretty good.
Despite his scoring acumen, note that MAAR calls himself a facilitator first and foremost.
Coach/teammate evaluations are difficult to trust entirely for obvious reasons, but do at provide insight into how a prospect handles himself in the locker room, and Abdur-Rahkman comes in for high praise in that regard:
“He is a complete player,” [Central Catholic head coach] Dennis Csencsits said. “Not only does he lead us in scoring but he leads us in assist, he is a very good rebounder so he is a really well-rounded player, very smart, very savvy basketball player.”
Although he continues to excel on the court, Abdur-Rahkman’s teammate says the “friendly and outgoing” star has been their mentor.
“Muhammad has helped me become a better leader and a better teammate,” sophomore point guard Zay Jennings said. “Just learning some basketball [techniques] that he does, overall, he is just a good teacher and a good leader.”
As you'll see, MAAR was a scoring machine in high school, but the stats, film, and quotes show that he's an unselfish player, as well.
About those stats—they're quite impressive:
Barring a major surprise, Abdur-Rahkman will be named to the Pennsylvania all-state team next week [Ed: he was], making him the first player in Lehigh Valley history to be an all-state selection four times.
He also was a unanimous choice as The Morning Call's player of the year for the second consecutive year.
The 6-foot-4 swingman was the driving force behind one of the greatest seasons in Lehigh Valley basketball annals.
With Abdur-Rahkman averaging 23.6 points, 4.1 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game, Central Catholic became the first area boys team to win its first 29 games, sweeping the Lehigh Valley Conference and District 11 3A titles en route.
The dream season ended with a 60-50 loss to eventual state champion Neumann-Goretti, but few will ever forget this Central Catholic team or the talents of Abdur-Rahkman.
He finished with 2,136 points — the most in CCHS history and the sixth most in District 11 annals.
That article contains more background on MAAR and focuses, once again, on his humble demeanor and unselfish play. This quote from Abdur-Rahkman sums it up:
"The numbers don't mean much to me," he said. "I'm just glad we won four district titles. That was our goal. We put in a lot of hard work and we just got better each year. One day it will all hit me what we've accomplished but right now, hard work is what I want to be remembered for."
Before picking up the Michigan offer on his visit, Abdur-Rahkman held offers from Bucknell, Delaware, Drexel, George Mason, Lehigh, Robert Morris, and VCU, according to ESPN.
The UMHoops scouting video is a must-watch:
Brian posted his impressions on it earlier this week:
MAAR's shot selection here would be terrible except he's in high school and the shots he's getting off are probably better than wide open looks from a number of his teammates. And he puts down a lot of his terrible, terrible shots. It's the open ones, whether it's at the free throw line or generally, that seem to need work. As UMHoops notes, one of the games here features five threes from MAAR, which is a major outlier for a guy who hit 1.9 a game.
We could see some improvement in MAAR's shooting once the onus for creating most of the team's offense no longer falls on him.
Also, a four-second assessment of his athleticism reveals that...
...yup, he's athletic.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Abdur-Rahkman needs to develop on the offensive end, but he still might see the floor next season—his physical maturity should help him there. While the worries about Michigan's depth for 2014-15 have focused on the frontcourt, Jon Horford's transfer and the NBA losses have created a ripple effect that leaves the backcourt a little thin, especially at the two. While Caris LeVert will play the vast majority of those minutes, Zak Irvin—the presumed starting three—may have to play more minutes at the four than the two, especially if Mitch McGary decides to go pro.
That leaves MAAR as the only backup guard aside from Spike Albrecht and Austin Hatch, and it's unlikely Hatch is going to be ready to play after returning to the court this past season. I doubt Beilein used a scholarship on a 20-year-old freshman at a position in need of depth without plans to utilize him immediately; even with the iffy jump shot, MAAR should carve out a niche role as a defensive specialist who can get out and lead the break. How he's utilized from there will depend largely on the development of his offensive repertoire.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has one remaining open scholarship for next season. I'd be surprised if they took another recruit in the class. It's more likely they'll look to add a transfer if the right player shows interest, and if that doesn't happen they can pocket the scholarship for 2015-16, which currently has just one open spot—though that figure could grow given the distinct possibility Mitch McGary and Caris LeVert are NBA-bound by that time.
EDIT: Or I'm totally wrong, as Sam Webb just tweeted out the latest offer news:
#Michigan has offered 2014 New Hampton (N.H.) Prep guard Aubrey Dawkins
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) April 19, 2014
This can mean a few things: the transfer front isn't looking so good, Beilein expects further attrition, or the coaches just really like Dawkins. We'll see.
Michigan is bringing in not one but two basketball recruits this weekend as they seek to fill the holes NBA attrition has wrought on the roster. Michigan now has two slots open and possibly a third depending on the status of Austin Hatch. They will seek to fill at least one spot, obviously. A second late offer is less likely, but if you can get a transfer like Eron Harris…
…you get a guy like Eron Harris. Ditto Sean Obi. Guys with 31% DREB rates don't grow on trees.
But neither of those guys is on campus this weekend. Two gentlemen are.
Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman
Try to remember as you are watching this that it is high school and in high school many, many shots are flat-out terrible. Googling Aubrey Dawkins for the next section I discovered that his high school career ended when his team scored five points in the first half and ended up going down 35-25.
Anyway: MAAR's shot selection here would be terrible except he's in high school and the shots he's getting off are probably better than wide open looks from a number of his teammates. And he puts down a lot of his terrible, terrible shots. It's the open ones, whether it's at the free throw line or generally, that seem to need work. As UMHoops notes, one of the games here features five threes from MAAR, which is a major outlier for a guy who hit 1.9 a game.
I do not want to guess at the collective net worth of the families represented here
Unfortunately there's not any equivalent video of Dawkins out there where you can see the overall shape of his game. There are only the highlight videos in which he never misses and dunks everything.
In them you do get some information. Dawkins has a diversity to his layup game, capable of getting off shots quickly when he gets to the rim from a variety of angles. His three point stroke is pretty high and decently fast. And he has impressive hops. Not GRIII level, but he'd probably be the most athletic dude on the team. He has that airborne pause you see sometimes where the guy takes his time dunking because he can. He can be an above the rim guy; MAAR is not.
Like many guys available late, Dawkins took a prep year after his high school career. That paid off with a scholarship offer to Dayton recently and now bigger outfits are sniffing around. As of last year, Dawkins was a two-star to ESPN who was Just A Shooter on the college level:
If Dawkins wants to take his game to another level, he must get better handling pressure while dribbling. His handle can get sloppy when defenders get into him-especially when he goes left. His jump shot is solid, but as he gets stronger it needs to get more consistent for the scoring guard position.
He's added a crossover to his game, it seems; he's probably more Hardaway than Stauskas or LeVert in terms of ability to create shots inside the rim.
While Dawkins took a prep year, MAAR's also older, so that's a wash.
New Challengers Appear
you're supposed to put them on your eyes bro
On the other hand, Michigan might be amenable to a fifth-year transfer who would not interfere with whatever they're planning for the roster down the road. When Ace took a look at available fifth years the pickings were slim; they've just gotten less so:
USC’s leading scorer, Byron Wesley, is has left the program because he was uncomfortable over his role next season, according to sources close to the situation.
Wesley, who could not be reached for comment, is considering Big Ten schools Indiana and Michigan and should be immediately eligible since he expects to graduate from USC this summer.
The 6'5" Wesley was impressively efficient for a miserable USC outfit, hitting 72/50/34 from the floor with high usage and taking care of the ball as the Trojans' undisputed go-to guy.
The question is whether Michigan can offer him the kind of role he wants with LeVert and Irvin slotted into the 2 and 3. This is a guy coming off 32 minutes a game; he's not going to want to be a 20 minute backup, and incredibly that's probably what he would be even after Michigan got raided by the NBA unless Irvin gets a lot of minutes at the 4. I know he was just a freshman but that seems like a pretty bad idea to have a guy with a DREB rate south of Nnanna Egwu playing your second-biggest spot on the floor.
If Wesley was three inches taller they'd be all over him; as it is, Sam Webb mentioned on WTKA that chatter about Wesley is coming from California, not locally. One dollar says Wesley's camp knows Nik Stauskas is NBA-bound but not much else about Michigan's situation.
Cole Huff is a large man who can stroke threes, but he's no center
A gentleman who is three inches taller is expressing similar transfer interest. He is Nevada F Cole Huff:
No visit dates have been set yet for Cole Huff but Dayton Iowa creighton Vanderbilt Michigan are the schools he's most interested in
— clint parks (@Brotherhood05) April 18, 2014
FWIW, Huff was restricted from transferring basically anywhere on the West Coast, a restriction later lifted—but before that tweet from his AAU coach.
The catch here is that the stated reason for Huff's transfer was to play the 3, which he thinks is his NBA position. This is not likely to happen at Michigan, but if the real reason is "I hate my coach" or "I want to play in the tournament" or something then M would have a real shot.
At first blush, Huff looks like a good fit, an 82/50/40 shooter at 6'8" with a low turnover rate and a pretty good 14% DREB rate. Huff is in the same eligibility spot as Eron Harris: he'd have to sit next year and then would have two to play. At 205 he is probably a 3/4 at Michigan except in desperate situations, so his attractiveness depends largely on how plausible Mark Donnal is at the 5.
The fit is also less than ideal here since Huff has to sit out a year and duplicates a number of skills already on Michigan's roster in a way a rebound vacuum like Sean Obi does not. But Obi might go off the board to Duke this weekend and Michigan hasn't been involved just yet, so perhaps they perceive their needs differently than they look from the outside.
Shayok just received his release from Marquette, and Michigan may have something to offer 6'6" Canadian wings
The departure of Jon Horford means Michigan currently has enough room for everybody, including Austin Hatch. Any NBA departures will give Michigan an opportunity to add to the class, and it's possible Hatch and Michigan have already come to an understanding about his role with the team.
So they'll likely keep their ear to the ground in case they find a guy who they think can help. A report yesterday that Michigan had offered Marquette decommitment Marial Shayok, a 6'6" Canadian wing. That was debunked in about 15 minutes by Sam Webb. Still, Michigan probably expressed interest there, probably on the order of "if player X leaves and you come to campus we will offer you." Michigan is persnickety like that, and sometimes recruits interpret things like "we will offer you if you visit" to mean "I have been offered."
Meanwhile, Scout's Evan Daniels first reported that Michigan was looking at SF Ryan Taylor, a northwest Indiana kid currently taking a prep year in Wisconsin. UMHoops confirmed that, noting that Taylor is from the same AAU outfit (Wayne Brumm's SYF) that sent Glenn Robinson, Mitch McGary, and Spike Albrecht to Ann Arbor. Taylor's only got an Ohio offer at the moment, so if Michigan does come through he'd probably leap at the offer the instant it was made.
Michigan takes what it wants from West Virginia
Michigan's also rumored to be looking at some transfers. Former WVU sniper Eron Harris is on the market, Michigan has been said to be interested. His publicly stated reason for the move is to be closer to his Indianapolis home, though, and if that isn't PR malarkey there are plenty of schools in Indiana that would take a 42% three point shooter, including both Big Ten outfits.
And while the fifth-year pickings are slim, Webb included 6'9" Rice C Sean Obi on a list of potential 2014 adds($). Obi announced a transfer after Rice changed coaches. Obi was the only good player on a miserable Rice outfit, one who led the team in usage as a freshman and rebounded 31%(!!!) on defense, second nationally. Northwestern, Duke, Vanderbilt, and Virginia are all in pursuit, so academics are emphatically not an issue; in fact, it seems like whoever lands him is going to have to sell him on how good said academics are. Obi shot efficiently on a team that was miserable, had a respectable block rate, and is obviously a rebound machine. He would be a perfect fit.
That list has a couple of other names that haven't gotten out to the public yet. I'll leave those in the article except for one with an amazing name: PA SG Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman.
I am detecting a certain pattern here.
Yes. With the exception of Obi all these guys are wings slated to replace Stauskas. It would be a major upset if he stayed.
Michigan's numbers in this class are as up in the air as it waits not only on potential departures before the 2015-16 season—which now brings Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton, and Zak Irvin's NBA draft status into play—but also how many late adds there are in 2014. Horford's exit leaves Michigan with zero seniors on next year's roster, but the NBA will cull somewhere between three and five guys from the roster by the time this recruiting class arrives. Michigan should be planning a class of approximately equal size.
One of those gentlemen should be a blocked shot factory who hurls balls downward through the hoop when the opportunity presents itself. I know people are talking about Donnal as a 5, but if he can play the 4 for Beilein that makes everyone's life easier. He has the range to be shooter #4, certainly. Adding a third 6'9"+ guy gives you the opportunity to explore a normal-sized 4 if you want.
Who that might be is unknown. Chatter about five-stars Stephen Zimmerman and Diamond Stone has died down over the past year. Not that it means much, but Michigan didn't get a mention in a local article last month, and was not included on a list from Zimmerman's own mouth around then:
"I want to take a visit to Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, Kansas, Indiana," Zimmerman said. "Those schools that are schools I can't visit all that often."
One of these programs is not like the others. (HINT: clap clap clap clap.) Stone, meanwhile, was just a name vaguely interested and seems more focused on the Dukes and UNCs and such.
Manuel has filled out since this shot. And transferred.
The hottest name in that department is Oak Hill's top 50 PF/C Trevor Manuel, who visited for Michigan's senior night victory against Indiana. The aftermath of that visit caused one dude with Crystal Ball access to flip his prediction to Michigan, possibly because momma knows best:
"My mom is a huge Michigan fan," Manuel said. "I think if it was up to her I would probably end up playing at Michigan. She has always loved them and had a really great time at the game."
Manuel's from Lansing originally and if he's looking for playing time, the opportunity is there. NC State and Michigan State are the other prominent names in his recruitment. MSU's interest may be waning:
Though MSU could certainly take two bigs in this class, it's unclear if Manuel is still a priority. He's not a true post player and often moves out on the perimeter. He's being sold as an ultra-lanky, tall wing forward and he has great potential if he can continue to excel in that role. If he doesn't, he looks more like a floating, skinny post.
"Floating, skinny post," you say? I know just the man. He doesn't really fit the block machine thing but Beilein gonna Beilein. Having Manuel and DJ Wilson on the roster would still allow Michigan to be fairly normal in height, if skinny at the 4.
McQuaid is not just a shooter
The picture on the wing is clearer. Luke Kennard committed to Duke a few weeks back, leaving Michigan free to focus on other dudes. The guy on the list closest to dropping is Matthew McQuaid, a Texas shooting guard who plans to decide next month. There was a brief flurry of reporting on McQuaid and Michigan in January in which he seemed enthusiastic and then radio silence until an article yesterday in the local paper in which the author made it seem like he was a foregone conclusion to M:
McQuaid, whose father grew up in Midland, is patiently weighing his options, which include a strong, growing interest from the University of Michigan. Head coach John Beilein is supposed to make a recruiting visit in the next few weeks. U-M assistant coach Bacari Alexander has been in regular contact with McQuaid over the past several months.
“It’s a lot of fun. This is something you only do once, so I’m going to enjoy (the recruiting process) while it lasts,” Matthew McQuaid said in a phone interview a few days ago. And, yes, Wolverine fans, McQuaid is open to playing at Michigan, which has an offensive system that fits his style of play.
Michigan is in fact the only school that gets more than a cursory mention; all other programs are crammed into a single sentence detailing McQuaid's various impressive offers. A few paragraphs about decisions and then:
As for Michigan, which won the Big Ten this past season and may lose Stauskas to the NBA, Rob admits that Matthew’s style of play is a good fit in Beilein’s system. A number of Michigan recruiting websites are speculating that McQuaid will be heading to Michigan.
“John Beilein is a great coach,” Rob said. “Not every program has the right system that fits a player, but Michigan has one of those systems that does fit (Matthew).”
Does that mean that McQuaid will end up in Ann Arbor?
The answer to that question is .... stay tuned.
For one, I have not seen even one Michigan recruiting website speculate that McQuaid will end up in Ann Arbor. UMHoops last tagged him in a post in January. Ditto Rivals. For two, if the guy is planning a commitment next month it will be difficult for that to happen without an offer. McQuaid has not visited, which is a necessary prerequisite for Michigan to do so.
He's certainly talented enough to get that offer. ESPN has him in their top 50; he's a consensus four-star everywhere else.
Indianapolis combo guard Jalen Coleman is still high on Michigan's interest list. There were rumors he might commit at the Michigan-ND football game last year, though, and they did not come to fruition. The latest news on Coleman is that he… switched AAU teams. I had forgotten the glacial pace of basketball recruiting for a moment there. Now I remember. Nothing happens, ever.
Also in that department, the most recent thing to happen with IL PG Jalen Brunson was a controversy about a photo that appeared to show him flipping double birds in a state playoff game. This did not actually happen. Glacial.
Activity! Michigan is checking out OH SG Kyle Ahrens, who broke his leg early in his high school season and is just now getting back on the court for the start of AAU. He was on campus in November and holds offers from MSU and Iowa amongst other non-Big Ten offers like Cinci and Xavier.
So what does this class look like?
Fuzzy. Gone are the days that Michigan just offers some dudes as soon as they offer dudes and they all fall over like dominoes and then rise up the rankings because Michigan can scout. Now Michigan's got the profile to go after guys who don't have to rise up the rankings, and they're getting in extended recruiting battles.
I'd say McQuaid ends up in the class except he's trying to pull the trigger without having one of those offer things; if he does schedule a visit in the near future or puts off his decision so he can schedule a trip to Ann Arbor it sounds like you can pencil him in. Aside from him it looks like Michigan is pursuing a combo guard who can maybe play some point but is mostly a SG, and Coleman seems like an okay bet. I get leery when guys are about to drop and then do not drop, as most of the time that means the supposed lead enjoyed was never extant.
And then they'll want a post-ish guy. 4 or 5 doesn't really matter with the flexibility Donnal provides, but Beilein has recently rumbled about finding a shot blocker. 2015 would be the place that happens unless they find a guy from Cameroon this spring.
My regional breakdown, still.
After I did that regional study of football talent production by state, Michael Elkon (Braves & Birds, SB Nation, regular HTTV contributor) asked if I'd do the same with hoops recruiting. I responded that I'd love to, but we just had our first child and I need some time to stare at her. This is also my response for why I didn't have any content last week. In fact it is my excuse for everything; to those who don't have kids I can say "you don't understand" and they have to shut up because this is the ultimate trump card. Those who are already parents keep quiet because they're in on it. Having kids is AWESOME!
Anyway it's back to work, and because it's me that means charts. So back to charts.
This is NOT exactly accurate
Data are from the Rivals (most easily accessible) databases since 2003. Putting lists of football and basketball recruits against each other is not a one-for-one comparison. Basketball has more teams, fewer recruits per team, way more international players, and players who went directly to the NBA or committed to Kentucky or some other stupid one before they're done with the pretense.
Top basketball players are also far more likely to go to prep schools, and these are often nowhere near their hometowns. The Rivals database lists actual hometowns for many prep players, but not international ones, so, e.g., Canadian from Canada Nik Stauskas registers as a Massachusetts recruit despite being from Canada. Where a hometown was noted I used that. Some states will appear disproportionately large because their prep programs draw kids from around the region, but that is also an advantage to the schools near the prep programs.
Talent Supply By Region
As with football, the Southeast appears to produce a disproportionate amount of talent compared to its population, but to nowhere near the extreme as it is with football. Observe:
|Region||% U.S. pop
|% of Top ~400
|% of Top ~400
|Atlantic||22%||20% (-2)||15% (-7)|
|Midwest||18%||18% ( - )||14% (-4)|
|Northeast||5%||6% (+1)||1% (-4)|
|Pacific||19%||14% (-5)||14% (-5)|
|Plains||17%||17% ( - )||18% (+1)|
|Southeast||19%||25% (+6)||38% (+19)|
The Atlantic, Midwest, and Northeast are considerably better represented, suggesting a marginally higher basketball orientation than the national average. My guess is this has a lot to do with the fact that it doesn't snow in gyms.
The list of top states in proportionally producing more basketball talent was heavily influenced by the prep school effect: New Hampshire (more than 3x their share of hoops talent) was done by three schools: Tilton, New Hampton, and the Brewster Academy. Most of Nevada was Findlay Prep, and Bishop Gorman sent most of the rest. Leaving those aside, the big basketball states (proportional to their population) were Kansas (209%), D.C. (202%), Mississippi (185%), Georgia (183%), Iowa (172%), Virginia (166%), North Carolina (154%), and Indiana (150%).
There's a reverse prep effect at the bottom: Vermont and Rhode Island were drained by New Hampshire it appears, and Delaware seems to have sent their kids to Virginia or D.C. The remainder to produce less than half as much talent as you would expect from their populations: Alaska (17%), Montana (25%), Colorado (34%), Nebraska (40%), New York (41%), South Dakota (45%), and New Mexico (47%).
Michigan (3% of the U.S. population, 2.4% of the top basketball talent) was about in the middle, about even with Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Missouri, Ohio, and Arizona. Straight-up Michigan is the 14th biggest producer of basketball talent, and the 12th biggest producer of football talent. I thought the more interesting stat was within the Midwest (that above table), where Ohio produces nearly half of the top football prospects the basketball talent is shared.
[jump for where they go]
Michigan's 2014 basketball recruiting will either just about wrap up or flail about like a demon-god with two of its favorite psuedopods hacked off tomorrow when Devin Booker and James Blackmon, Jr., both announce decisions.
Michigan was long thought the favorite for Booker, a 6'5" shooting guard out of Mississippi, despite his dad's status as a Missouri program legend. That had a lot to do with his mom, who lives in Grand Rapids and supposedly has been enthused about Michigan for a while. His final five:
Booker, rated the No. 18 player in the Class of 2014 by ESPN, has publicly narrowed his choices to Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri and Florida. However, Kentucky, Missouri and Michigan are believed to be the favorites for his signature.
Michigan led, then everyone piled on Kentucky once they offered, and everyone's still on Kentucky despite a late move by Missouri, which hosted him for an official on the 19th immediately followed by an unofficial.
Kentucky folk remain confident; a random internet poll on the local paper's website favors Missouri, with Michigan running at 11%. Booker announces at 4PM.
James Blackmon Jr.
Blackmon's also dropping Thursday, publicly down to a similar list of IU, Michigan, MSU, Kansas, and UK. Blackmon's done a full tour of those schools after his decommitment from Indiana, and after some Michigan chatter things seem to have swung back to UK, heavily. His dad played there.
I guess the hope on both of these recruitments is that people don't really know what's going on with either kid, like they didn't have much of a read on Kam Chatman. That does not seem to be the case, unfortunately. These opinions about both picking Kentucky are of the Strong Take variety.
Blackmon announces at halftime of the Troy-ULM game on ESPNU.
Michigan's likely okay at the 2 even if they strike out tomorrow, which it seems the world expects. Stupid UK's stupid inability to get their plan A targets. Caris LeVert will be back, and Nik Stauskas should be. Even if Stauskas does leave for the NBA, Michigan can back up LeVert with a few minutes a game running two points or going big with Kam Chatman or Zak Irvin.
Michigan does project to have two open slots entering the spring signing period, and would probably like to use one and bank one, which would make the 2014 class two (open plus the graduation of Jon Horford) plus whatever attrition there is in the next two years, NBA or otherwise.
Obviously, the guy on everyone's radar is NV by way of Australia PF Jonah Bolden, who debuted with a splash at the Adidas Nations tournament, likes Michigan (his dad's from Flint) and is an excellent stretch four fit for Beilein's system. He's spending his final year of high school at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, where Michigan has recruited before, nearly reeling in OSU redshirt freshman-to-be Amadeo Della Valle. It'll take a while for Bolden to get all his academics ironed out what with the transfer, but Michigan would almost certainly go after Bolden in earnest once that's settled.
Fellow Australian Dante Exum, a 6'6" fellow skyrocketing towards the top of NBA draft boards, was 50-50 between entering the draft and college as of late August and had Michigan in a top five with Indiana, UNC, Kentucky, and Oregon. That's a longshot for a lot of reasons.
If the big guns don't come through, Michigan will scour locally for another LeVert type: tall, young for his grade, late-rising.
Wilson pictures are thin on the ground. Via Rivals.
CA SF/PF DJ Wilson has committed to Michigan. Informative update…
IS ALREADY HERE, YEAHHHH
|3*, #135 overall||3*, NR||3*, NR overall
|3*, #219 overall
Wilson's ratings are pretty meh. He's a skinny 6'9" kid who was injured for much of the all-important evaluation periods the last couple years and put up about ten points a game when healthy. So those rankings are legit, for generic club X.
For Michigan, he's a fit for what they want to do and may outperform the middling-at-best expectations above. John Beilein likes three things: length, shooting, and intelligence. Wilson brings all three in spades. His AAU coach:
"D.J. can shoot it, handle it and pass it at 6'9 and is just scratching the surface in his basketball career. He is going to surprise a lot of people. He's a great kid and an extremely hard worker who wants to be really good at his craft. Schools just wanted to see if the back was an issue and clearly it's not."
At 6'9", he's a jumbo wing in the extreme or good-sized stretch four. He's got a sweet jumper with range out to three, and he's a 4.0 student who took an official visit to Columbia. The one in New York.
That back issue held him out for the entirety of last year's AAU circuit, which held his rankings down. He missed a big chunk of this year's, as well. This is from late July:
The last player into the 2014 Rivals150 at No. 150, D.J. Wilson has been sidelined by injuries for most of the past six months. Finally healthy, the 6-foot-8 combo forward from Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian is starting to show some things. …
What jumps out immediately about Wilson is his ability to stroke deep jump shots and the ease with which things seem to come to him on the offensive end. Because of his size and skill, he plays as a both a plus-sized wing or a face-up four who can stretch defenses and knock down shots.
Another evaluation from that tourney:
DJ Wilson had the college coaches buzzing with his play. Standing at 6’8” with a skinny frame, Wilson showed off a text book jump shot and went 3-3 from behind the line in a strong first half performance. His shot was smooth and effortless with range several feet behind the arc. When pressured Wilson used a pump fake to drive to the basket and finished with a soft floater.
Has a knack for doing a lot of things on the court and being very efficient. Wilson rebounds the ball well, handles, looks to get contact in the paint, and shows a nice touch with his left. Uses his length to his advantage on defense as well.
Here a lack of ridiculous athleticism is made up for by sheer length and craft.
A lack of assertiveness and questions about his energy level are the other consistent complaints, which get referenced even when he's playing well. Scout:
…back on the court Saturday and looked really good. Wilson hasn’t stopped growing and has now hit the 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9 range, only adding to his value as a prospect. Wilson played harder than he has in the past, scored on the offensive glass and hit three triples off the catch. He’s a project but no doubt has upside.
ESPN's evaluation loves his upside ("quintessential frame with long arms and overall great length"; "great ball skills"; "impressive" three point shot") but lingers on a lack of energy exerted on both ends of the floor, especially when it comes to rebounding and defending. Hopefully that's an evaluation impacted by the lingering back issues.
Those back issues are a concern, as they had the specter of something chronic with their duration and consistent flare-ups. The CU Rivals site has the best description of what went down there:
The spring was a successful one, until injuring his back and having to sit out the July live period. An inconsistent recovery looked to be completed when Wilson averged 15.4 points per game over the first seven of the season.
But problems with his back creeped back up, eventually keeping him out of this past spring evaluation period because of inflammation.
"I could have played but I'd rather wait until summer," he said of sitting out the spring. "I didn't want to risk anything."
FWIW, his doctor told Wilson that the injuries were "things that only happen once."
Likes ice cream.
Wilson had offers from Gonzaga, Cal, Colorado, USC, Harvard, Columbia, and a few others. There were reports that everyone who lost out on Chatman (Oregon, USC, and Arizona) tried to get Wilson to dump his M visit and visit them this weekend, FWIW.
FAKE 40 TIME
Square root of negative one fakes. You can't write i these days without getting it autocorrected at the start of a sentence.
Junior year video:
UMHoops scouting video:
Wilson features extensively in a recent Capital Christian workout video that is for hardcore folks only:
One-on-ones start at about seven minutes and are the most interesting bit. Also the difference in Wilson's body from video one to this recent one jumps out; guy has done a lot of work despite the back injury.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
If you're still betting against Beilein's ability to unearth talent, you're hanging out at the penny slots swearing a lot. Don't sweat the rankings too much. Wilson's a high-upside project who fits well with Beilein's system and is a good bet to maximize his potential. He's an academic fit who should be able to generate shots with his brain in Beilein's system, and his injury makes it likely he's underrated.
ESPN compared Kam Chatman to Tayshaun Prince, but it's Wilson who's eerily reminiscent of the lanky 6'10" shooter and long-armed devil, down to that baby hook in the lane that is one of Prince's go-to moves. Wilson brings the stretch four shooting and good-enough driving ability that Prince does; he's skinny and lacks crazy athleticism but is also good enough in those areas.
The downside here is Evan Smotrycz: a quality-shooting stretch four with the ability to get to the basket who's allergic to rebounds and defense and eventually drives Beilein so crazy he bites his head off like a bat. Then he transfers to Maryland. Wilson, not Beilein. Or the bat. Bat's dead, bro.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Wilson fills one of Michigan's combo forward slots; since they were willing to take both Wilson and Donte Grantham it seems they will woo a few guys going forward, most prominently Australian transplant combo forward Jonah Bolden.
Bolden's recruitment will end in the spring; Michigan's pursuit of a shooting guard is going to conclude much more quickly, with both IN SG James Blackmon Jr and MS SG Devin Booker likely off the board by the end of the month. If Michigan gets one of those plan A SGs it's status quo—unless there's attrition, Bolden or bust for scholarship #5 and only if Bolden plays like a must-take—but if they miss on both they might hold onto scholarship #4 if they feel confident in Bolden and confident they can get away with a class consisting almost entirely of skinny combo forwards, especially if OH SG Javon Bess is off the board to Michigan State by then.
Can they? I think so unless they're getting early entry vibes from Stauskas. He'll have two more years when this class arrives, as will Caris LeVert. You could even slide Zak Irvin down if you wanted; Michigan does just fine with SGs who are more shooter than penetrator, and gol dang if that's not a huge lineup.