this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
I knooowww you belooooong to soooooomebody neeeeww.
But toniiiiiight you belooooong to me.
Is the state of Michigan driving kids away from in-state schools? This year Tom Izzo rode an easy bracket to a Final Four appearance with a down-year team, then put together a very good recruiting class, even if his top target went to Purdue. Since he really has no need to make excuses at the moment, his friends are doing it for him. Before the tournament it was "Tom Izzo doesn't cheat but everyone else does." Which is generally true—on a scale of "Look at our shiny Tommy Amaker" to "Ridin' this Calipari" MSU is definitely near the Amaker extremity of programs that regulate that stuff as best they can (nobody, including Michigan, would stand up to scrutiny, nor should).
The latest non-excuse excuse is MHSAA's arcane rule drives top 150 talent out of the state of Michigan, and thus away from the in-state schools. An article by Graham Couch—
Hey where are you going? Stop. At least see where I'm going with this. Yes the Couch article was exactly the paragon of crappy slappy journalism you'd expect from one of the worst journalists of my generation. He interviewed a couple of Detroit high school basketball coaches about the "parasitic" effect of AAU and national prep powers—as if anyone but the in-state schools would be helped if Miles Bridges was forced to live in Flint rather than a prep school down the street from Marshall University.
But that doesn't preclude a possibly real effect of talent leaving the state (and not looking back) due to overly stringent rules put in place by the body that controls high school athletics.
Couch cares because Michigan State in basketball is like an SEC football school (minus the cheating), in that their historical success is tied to proximity to talent. If the state of Michigan is systemically exporting more talent than it's bringing in, that's bad for the in-state schools. However if one program is suffering from greater national vagrancy because it's built on recruiting in-state talent and doesn't know how to compete for regional and extra-regional players, that's just that program falling behind the times.
Are more basketball players playing elsewhere in general? Is this state different somehow? I realized I didn't have a study to link to show this, so I made one.
And found M and MSU are getting less in-statey:
Bentley has a list of all Michigan basketball players except for 2008 (I added). For Michigan State I could only find a list of letterwinners, so I compared just Michigan's varsity:
A lot of wiggle: This isn't like football where there's over 100 players on each roster; if three freshmen from a prep school decide to attend the same college you'll get a big jump on the graph above.
There are two major national events responsible for two huge dips: World War II (1942-1945), and the implementation of Title IX, which regulations were promulgated in 1974 and clarified in 1979. The "three-part test" comes from '79, and it's from then through '82 that the three-part standards, e.g. having as many girls on official athletic rosters as boys, truly went into effect.
That said, there's a historical mean of around 50% in-state for Michigan and about 60% for Michigan State—not enough difference on a squad of 16 players to make a difference. Both schools have recently gone more out-of-state, Michigan to a much greater degree.
What about the Wolverines?
[Hit the jump]
Winston On Campus
2016 U of D Jesuit point guard Cassius Winston, the #23 overall prospect on the 247 Composite, is expected to be on campus today for an unofficial visit, per The Michigan Insider's* Kyle Bogenschutz ($). With two bigs already in the fold—albeit with rumblings that Austin Davis could reclassify to 2017—and Tyus Battle adding a dynamic wing to the class, getting a point guard will be the main focus going forward, and there's little question Winston is at the top of Michigan's wish list.
Winston's father told Bogenschutz that this is still a battle between the Wolverines and Michigan State. Winston will have a little more time to focus on recruiting in the near future, as a broken wrist suffered last weekend will sideline him the next 6-8 weeks.
Step Into The Octagon. For Football. I Think.
ExposureU teams w NFL QBs & trainers for a 1 day Aerial Assault. First ever 2016, 2017, 2018, & 2019 QB Cage Match! pic.twitter.com/Kw93lkmjlQ
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) May 13, 2015
Jim Harbaugh announced a quarterback camp to coincide with Michigan's Exposure U Presented By Troll God camp. The available details are limited to the above for now. Colin Kaepernick! Jay Cutler! Denard Robinson! Jameis Winston! Uh... Zac Robinson! A F****** FIGHTER JET! CAAAAAAAAAAAGE MAAAAAAAATCH!
You know what? The fewer details we add to the above, the better. Stay tuned for an indeterminate time until QB ARMAGEDDON.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup]
2016 five-star wing Tyus Battle just committed to Michigan:
Excited to say that I am going to be a Wolverine!!?????????? pic.twitter.com/xdEUC5o9ol
— tyus battle (@kidmamba23) May 11, 2015
This should help you salve your Jaylen Brown wounds even if he is using the split M. Informative update coming.
|5*, #10 overall
|5*, #14 overall||5*, #14 overall
|5*, #11 overall
|5*, #12 overall
The 247 composite didn't have to work too hard to average those rankings: the world has Battle just outside the top ten in the 2016 rankings, the #4 shooting guard in the country behind (former?) Michigan target Josh Langford, Malik Monk, and Terrance Ferguson.
Battle is high on everyone's wish list because he brings NBA size and athleticism. Then there's a lot of conflicting information. ESPN says Battle may be "most gifted on the defensive end of the floor," praises his maturity, and says he's got "good size, long arms, speed, quickness, and leaping ability." They then say his three point shooting is the "most glaring weakness he has." With ESPN evaluations it's always tough to know when and how they saw the kid, and that'll play a role as we hit a bunch of scouting reports that say he's a great shooter.
There isn't a lot of recent scouting since Battle missed about five months with an ankle injury likely sustained as he helped the USA U17s to a gold medal in Dubai. Before that he was in a bit of a funk but recovered from it…
The No. 11 player in the class of 2016, Battle has struggled a bit for much of the spring. He's grown to 6-foot-5, gotten much stronger and has been in the process of adjusting his game. Sunday, he mixed jump shots, transition finishes and drives to the hoop nicely and as a result he played the best he has this spring. Battle said that he feels like he's started to get things going in the right direction and he's excited for the summer ahead now that he has his confidence going.
…to re-establish himself one of the top prospects in the 2016 class:
Tyus Battle, 6-foot-5 SG (No. 25 2016): It was not a great spring for the wing from New Jersey. It was, however, a great summer. Starting around Memorial Day, Battle broke out of a funk he had been in through the early stages of Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League. Battle looks to be much more comfortable with the size that he added in the last year, and he was shooting very well during July. He looks like he will be moving up to five-star status.
His early stats on the AAU circuit weren't great, largely because he took a ton of three pointers and not much else. I can't figure out why, but it seems like his team wasn't particularly well organized.
As for the upside:
Obviously, he’s an effective perimeter shooter, but he also possesses lean athleticism and a frame that should enable him to become legitimately strong as he progresses.
I also like his defensive potential at 6-6, with the spidery athleticism to defend wing forwards and many shooting guards as well.
As mentioned above, there’s a very high likelihood that Battle will become a successful high-major performer. The things he does well, at 6-6 and athletic, typically enjoy a very high translation level to college and beyond. There aren’t enough shooters and scorers in college basketball — but don’t take my word for it, just ask your nearest college coach — and Battle will supply that as early as his freshman season.
Scout's Brian Snow caught him when he was playing with Team USA:
He attacked the rim well with the dribble and was excellent finishing in the mid-range. Battle was shooting it well from deep, though at times he was a bit streaky mostly due to his footwork being inconsistent. Still he is one of the best shot makers and athletes on the wing in the class and showed his impressive scoring ability all day long.
He hit a few deep jumpers, and then began really turning it up. Battle got on the glass and converted a few offensive rebounds for buckets, slashed to the rim, and then scored in the mid-range. It was a good finish to a strong day for Battle.
And Sam Webb had a take from Michigan's camp:
Sam’s Take: If there was a better shooter in attendance I didn’t see him. In one of the shooting drills Battle didn’t have a single miss. In another he only missed one. He can drill jumpers coming off screens with the ball or without, and he can also knock them down pulling up off the dribble. It game action he was streakier from distance, but his stroke is undeniable. When it came to getting to the rim he did so with relative ease thanks to his quick first step and strong handle. One of his best moves was a blow-by off a hesitation, but in that move he also put on display the next stage of development.
Battle sounds a lot like LeVert: a lanky 6'6" guy who's an excellent shooter with long arms and passing ability. He may or may not be able to get to explosive dunkland on the regular, a la Jaylen Brown. Battle:
“I think knocking down jump shots and creating my own shot, I’m pretty good at,” Battle told Scout.com.
“I’m probably better from mid-range,” he added. “That’s more of my game. When they go to man-to-man I like to get the mid-range jump shot.”
Battle is already as big as rising senior LeVert, which helps explain the disparity in their rankings. (Also, LeVert was criminally underrated even after winning the Ohio POY award that has been a ticket to the NBA for a decade.) The hope you have is that Battle can add the posterizations as he gets older—the ranking implies he's got the athleticism for it.
A who's who as you might expect. His final seven schools were Michigan, UConn, Duke, Syracuse, OSU, Louisville, and Notre Dame. Arizona, Kentucky, Indiana, and Villanova also offered.
I couldn't find anything that seemed reliable.
From last summer's Peach Jam, when he was a rising junior:
And at another tourney:
An SNY profile:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Take your pick between a meatier Caris LeVert or a quicker Zak Irvin. Battle seems to split the difference between Michigan's two wing stars. If that three point shot is currently erratic, it's close enough to where it needs to be for Beilein to put him in the 40%+ range, and then you've got a six-foot-six guy with long arms and at least B+ athleticism.
So more of the same, maybe with a little more oomph.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has at least three spots for next year's class: Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht graduate and they currently have an open slot. Those slots would appear to be full with Battle, Jon Teske, and Austin Davis, but 1) Michigan would very much like a point guard with Spike's departure and 2) it appears that Michigan offered Davis with the idea that he might prep and arrive in 2017 depending on how the 2016 roster develops.
That would leave them with room for a point guard. Michigan is pushing hard for in-stater Cassius Winston and has opened up their horizons after Derryck Thornton accelerated and committed to Duke. Currently rising 6'6" NY PG Kevin Huerter is currently the name with the most juice if they can't get Winston, but after plan A things are fuzzy.
Michigan will likely wait and see what kind of unexpected attrition they have, if any, after the year before looking for additional players. Irvin reaching NBA range and a playing time transfer from someone frozen out this year are possibilities; I'd guess they grab a point guard as soon as they can and continue recruiting wing types with the expectation they will have a slot.
- Kansas's 247 site says Brown dropped the Jayhawks. Most of the chatter out there held that Kansas was not a likely destination, but the odd report was givin' KU a chance.
- Yesterday, both the Kansas 247 guy and Jerry Meyer, 247's head of basketball recruiting, responded to twitter Qs about Brown's recruitment. Both said they thought it would be Michigan; both made it seem they were making an informed guess without true conviction behind it.
- VA combo guard Kenny Williams dropped Michigan yesterday, just a day after setting an official visit for the 18th. Some people read that as confidence in Brown, as Williams seemed highly interested in Michigan before the sudden change.
- NC wing Shawn Kirk got offered by Kentucky hours after committing to NC State but still signed a LOI with the Wolfpack.
- Crystal Ball is pretty much status quo; a Kansas guy who'd had a KU prediction out there that he admitted was homerism flipped back to Michigan. It's all M save two guys from an independent Kentucky site going with the Wildcats.
- Kentucky Sports Radio reports they got an anonymous text from an Atlanta area code saying Brown was headed to Kentucky. Even though KSR is usually very good in the information department that sounds like the most useless information in history. But…
- …Sam Webb said that he had heard something similar about UK leading and is not confident.
- As of about noon the Kentucky 247 site was still giving Michigan an edge, citing Adidas. That was also speculation.
Unfortunately, Sam has been by far the most tuned-in media member during Brown's recruitment. He correctly pegged Michigan as a prime contender when everyone scoffed; Scout has been saying Michigan and Kentucky are his top two for a while. If he's hearing something negative it's coming from people who know.
Don't give up hope, but prepare the sour grapes just in case. His hair isn't aerodynamic enough! Jumping that high is a waste of energy! Et cetera.
Our resident young obsessive WD found a list of all of Michigan's night games, dating back to—wait, 1944? That's right—in 2010 Greg Dooley of MVictors and Greg Kinney, one of the unsung heroes of HTTV (he finds us all those amazing old photos), pulled out details on one of the most unremarked remarkable events in American history.
It's remarkable for the context. This is World War II, remember. The invasion of Europe was stalled while waiting to see if Market Garden could get them into Germany via Holland, and otherwise the lines were about where they'd been entrenched in WWI. On September 6, with decreasing threat of invasion, the United States lifted the blackout rules, to a dim-out. Certainly any meaning of "dim" did not include shining stadium lights on a facility in a coastal city (Milwaukee) with 20,000 live targets in it. Regardless, Marquette apparently played several night games that year and throughout the war—I'd be interested if any historians know why this was cool when so much else in college football was subsided for the war (e.g. 1944 Michigan had to give up its spinning fullback—the QB of the unbalanced single wing—before the Ohio State game because he was called to duty).
The Michigan game being one of them was even weirder, and had to do with Michigan participating in a navy officer cadet program called V-12, and siphoning off V-12s, who couldn't leave the base for more than 48 hours, as football recruits. The time crunch meant an afternoon or night game, so they went night. They also used a highlighter yellow football (you can see it in the photos) that didn't work out so well: one ensuing newspaper article is the first known use of the term "fumbilitis."
BACK TO THE CORNER
Vincent Smith got so sick of MGoBloggers at the last event at Corner Brewery he decided to do it again at the end of the month:
WE WENT TO THE FINALS; WHERE'S THE RECRUITS?
This could be moot in a week (signs are good but when Kentucky's involved I halve all hope) but it does seem Michigan ought to be feeling the effects now of the championship run in the 2014-2016 classes. Walton, Irvin and Chatman were all pretty heralded recruits but their recruitments happened primarily when Zak and Stu were playing, and Michigan was making decisions on whom to pursue for 2015 before the having subs was crazy.
|Things were going great until Kentucky whiffed on their top guys and Calipari started fishing in our waters with bait we won't touch because of rules based in 19th century class ideals.|
Michigan appeared to be in pole position for Devin Booker, Luke Kennard, James Blackmon, and Keita Bates-Diop at various points in those recruitments. In most of those cases, we lost out to a program that could promise as much in the tournament run department and not living like a pauper in the interim.
It sucks that none of those guys were Mitch McGary but McGary is a rare bird. Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, etc. can offer the same or better shot at a national championship, and don't have Michigan's squeamishness about paying them. Remember when Beilein was initially targeting those guys they were 100-250 dudes he saw more than that in.
Once you've blown up into a one-and-done, or at least the one-and-done schools are offering you the one-and-done package, the prestige of your degree matters way less than the degree to which your school is willing to accept the fact that you're there to try out for an NBA contract, and act accordingly. Blame the NBA's rule—created to prevent their teams from investing in busts before they've played against higher competition—for turning an age-old hypocrisy into a blatant thing.
It's not a sure thing—did you think we'd be here with Brown?—and once you're past the NBA locks Michigan can play ball. The difference between a top ten pick and, say, Caleb Swanigan, is an important one for the relatively clean programs. MSU got a top-20 post player because Tom Izzo has a long record of developing post players, and if you're starting at #20 your coaching is the difference between 1st or 2nd round grade in one or two (or four) years. If you watched that saga, you saw Purdue start in good shape and get strung along as the cute local school by the end. Beilein looks pretty good for any NBA wing or point guard—we'll never be Kentucky but we're probably not losing guys to Purdue, and that's something.
Etc. Update on 2015 non-conf opponents' springs. VT's secret to beating Ohio State' with 46 Bear concepts is cool, but outdated; Alabama tried that and got Vince Lombardi'd in the face. Worst damn band in the land. If you wanna meet the MGoDog he'll be at softball this weekend.
Your Moment of Zen:
How you like me now?
Jaylenbits? Maybe not quite but it is by far the most interesting thing going on right now. The latest:
- Scout's Brian Snow has been saying this is a top two of UK and M for weeks and reiterated that, with Cal running third. Feels like the Bears would be a surprise but not an all-caps SHOCK.
- Sam Webb did not offer a gut feeling on WTKA this morning but did reiterate that Michigan was very much in this recruitment; he's got an article coming up in the News on why that is. As a guy who's badgered him about this recruitment for months I can say that Sam is getting more hopeful as we move along here. He is not playing coy, though: nobody knows.
- Kentucky offered 2015 6'6" wing Shaun Kirk yesterday just hours after he committed to NC State. Kentucky needs a lot of guys, yes; they already have a commitment from a 6'6" wing out of Chicago and are about to get a JUCO shooting guard, Mychal Mulder. A 247 Kentucky staff member suggested this was "more indicative" of where things are with Jaylen Brown than Cheick Diallo, the 6'9" power forward who is the other major prize Kentucky is after.
- Even if Kentucky sweeps Kirk/Mulder/Diallo they will still have a spot for Brown, FWIW. Adding Jamal Murray, the Canadian combo guard who is considering reclassifying from 2016, and all those guys would fill them up but even then a guy like Marcus Lee could get Creaned.
- Crystal Ball predictions continue to roll in for Michigan, including one from Jerry Meyer, 247's head of basketball recruiting. Michigan now has the last 13 picks, with 247 staffers at their Duke, Ohio State, Kansas, and UNC sites amongst those to pick M in the last couple days. Again, I wouldn't take this as gospel since this recruitment has been cloak and dagger. Somebody is hearing something.
- College coaches don't seem to be among that group, as several said they have "no clue" and/or "no feel" for what Brown was going to do.
- The OSU staffer told his message board that after some texts it looks like it's "headed UM's way" and that the Adidas thing was "huge". Steve Lorenz also mentioned something along those lines. I will call them Competent Germans for a week if this happens.
- Rivals, which has been pessimistic the whole time, suggests that Kansas writers in their network are "beginning to believe" they have a real shot. That's at odds with what their 24/7 guys are saying.
- There's no scheduled commitment time but people expect that that Brown will choose within the next couple weeks.
Meanwhile VA combo guard Kenny Williams is planning to take an official to Michigan. UNC and Virginia are the other schools he'll visit after using two of his officials earlier in the year; those schools and maybe VCU appear to comprise his list. Obviously if Brown does happen, Williams will no longer be an option.
Other basketball things. During the Hatch press conference, Beilein touched on a couple personnel matters. On DJ Wilson's position:
Beilein: 'If DJ (Wilson) plays in the middle, it'll probably be the only year he plays in the middle.' Not a center. But can be, apparently
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) April 27, 2015
That is no surprise with Teske and maybe Davis scheduled to enter in 2016 (Davis may prep), but it is an indicator where Michigan stands this year. They may need a third C and it sounds like Wilson will be the guy playing Bielfeldt/Smotrycz when foul trouble looms.
Spike Albrecht will undergo a second surgery. Beilein expects full recovery by the start of fall practice.
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) April 27, 2015
That does not put talk about Spike redshirting to rest but it should at least dampen it considerably. Given the composition of the roster Michigan should want to add a point guard in 2016; a Spike redshirt prevents that. And having Albrecht available is a very good thing for a team with aspirations.
On other potential roster moves:
Beilein still expects every other player currently on the team to be back next season.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) April 27, 2015
There was some speculation that Chatman might light out for greener pastures; happy that is not the case. He is still a guy who can develop into an excellent player. Just get that corner three down and get mean on the boards and we're in business.
1925 sounds exactly as fun as you would expect. The roaring 20s of football:
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) April 28, 2015
Several years later mud would obscure key numbers in the New York Stock Exchange, and the rest is history.
Nyet. Mike Spath reported a week or so ago that Michigan would look to add a grad transfer wide receiver or two over the coming months, space permitting, and thoughts naturally turned to Devin Lucien, the UCLA receiver who Michigan essentially turned down (they asked him to play D) days after Hoke took the job. Lucien is no longer available:
WR Devin Lucien is transferring to ASU. Grad transfer. Eligible immediately. Nice get. 29 catches, 225 yards, 2 TDs last year at UCLA.
— Doug Haller (@DougHaller) April 28, 2015
Cut to the chase. The Final Four—two spectacular games and Duke punking MSU—put the "COLLEGE BASKETBALL IS DEATH" meme to the sword, or it least it should have. But at the same time the tournament was going on, basketball was experimenting with a 30 second shot clock in their B- and C-tier postseason tournaments. Those increased scoring without a commensurate decrease in efficiency, so you may as well do it. It appears that people are going to do it:
Men's basketball is likely heading toward reducing its shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds, NCAA rules committee chairman Rick Byrd told ESPN.com on Monday.
Byrd, the coach at Belmont, said a year ago that there was a 5 percent chance of the change happening, but he changed his tone Monday.
"Now there's a real decent chance," Byrd said. "It's pretty evident a lot more coaches are leaning that way. The opinion of coaches on the shot clock has moved significantly to reducing it from 35 to 30. And all indicators are pointing toward that."
Byrd also said there was a 90% chance college basketball would adopt the NBA charge circle. It does sound like other changes are on the horizon:
Byrd said coaches have told him the game is too physical and too rough. He said that will come up quite a bit in the meeting.
Byrd also said there will be discussion about altering the timeout rule to create better flow. He said he would like to mimic the rule in women's basketball where if a coach calls a timeout within 30 seconds of a media timeout, then that becomes the TV timeout.
He said too often coaches will call a timeout, knowing they are getting a media timeout 15 seconds later, and that creates an even longer downtime for the fans in the stands and the TV audience.
"You can have the last few minutes take 20 minutes," Byrd said. "It doesn't bother coaches, but it does for those watching at home and in the arena. We need to try to get the games within two-hour windows."
All of that sounds excellent. From a selfish perspective I think the shot clock reduction hurts Michigan since they use their time on offense so well, but if it's part of a package that includes improving offensive flow by reducing the Spartanizing of the game I'll take it in a hot second.
Now just implement my coaches-must-cut-off-a-digit-to-call-timeout plan and we are cooking with gas.
The unbundling. ESPN has sued Verizon for attempting an end-around of their contract. ESPN thinks it says Verizon can't offer "basic" packages without its family of channels; Verizon is like nah.
Verizon Fios has just shy of six million cable subscribers -- making it the fourth largest cable company and sixth largest cable or satellite company in the country. Verizon recently announced a new cheaper alternative to a basic cable package. That offering allows consumers to subscribe to a basic cable package for $59.99. Unlike Dish Network's recent Sling TV offering which includes ESPN in its basic tier, the new Verizon Fios package doesn't include ESPN in its basic tier pricing. Instead ESPN -- along with ESPN2, FS1 and NBC Sports Network -- are included in a sports tier package which consumers can purchase for the additional price of $9.99 a month. That is, it's possible to subscribe to Verizon's new cable package without receiving ESPN.
That's actually a great deal for that sports package since ESPN and ESPN 2 alone cost Verizon seven dollars. I am not a law-talking guy but I can't see how this is going to fly in the courts; it is an indicator of where we're going. Right now sports is being subsidized by people who don't care about it at all. In an a-la-carte world that no longer happens.
Then what? Then ESPN takes a bath, with sports leagues next on the chopping block. ESPN costs 6 bucks a month for a channel 20% of people are interested in; it will not cost thirty bucks a month in an a-la-carte world because a lot of people will forgo it. There's only so much you can do by strong-arming customers in an environment where ten bucks a month gets you a virtually infinite pile of content. The people who don't care will opt out.
This is why adding questionable fanbases to the Big Ten in the pursuit of short-term cable dollars was so incredibly foolish even beyond the deleterious effects of adding a bunch of games nobody in the world cares about. Every time I see someone hail Jim Delany as some kind of visionary I want to laugh/cry.