A Late Riser Emerges?
The young man you see above displaying a visceral hatred for rims is 2016 Grundy (VA) Mountain Mission SG/SF Harold Baruti, who at the moment looks like the most likely option to fill one of the two open basketball scholarships. Baruti came to Ann Arbor on an official visit last weekend, and it sounds like a scholarship offer is on the way as long as he clears an academic hurdle or two:
Per his HS coach, 2016 wing Harold Baruti has not yet received a scholarship offer from his OV to Michigan. But workout went "very well."
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) May 5, 2016
Re. Michigan and 2016 wing Harold Baruti: Still no scholarship offer. U-M checking if he'll be cleared academically.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) May 9, 2016
Baruti, who moved to U.S. from the Democratic Republic of the Congo two years ago, also still needs to pass the TOEFL before U-M will offer.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) May 9, 2016
At 6'6", ~200 pounds, Baruti could provide much-needed depth on the wing. According to Quinn, Utah and Texas Tech are also showing late interest in Baruti, who holds scholarship offers from SMU, UNC-Wilmington, Utah State, and Tennessee Tech. While he doesn't look like the most polished prospect, he's got plenty of athleticism—he looks like a guy who could eventually fill the GRIII role of cutter/finisher who shoots just well enough on corner threes to keep defenses spaced out.
Speaking of wing depth, the just-released senior highlights of 2016 signee Ibi Watson are worth watching. While the highlight video caveat applies, he looks like a strong finisher and impressive passer; if he can hold his own on defense he can see a significant role right away as a backup at the two and the three.
In other hoops recruiting news, Michigan's offer has vaulted them into the top three for in-state 2017 SF Jamal Cain, per TMI's Josh Newkirk:
“(Michigan) is for sure top-three,” Cain said. “My top three, well, the schools that have been in contact the most have been Michigan, Marquette and Xavier.”
Cain mentioned academic support as something that stood out on his visit, and later said that factor is of significant importance in his decision, which should come during or after his senior season.
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M Offers Jamal Cain
Today's roundup starts not with football, but with some long-anticipated hoops news, courtesy of MLive's Brendan Quinn—Michigan has offered three-star 2017 MI F Jamal Cain:
Jamal Cain made the short trip from Pontiac to Ann Arbor for an unofficial visit to Michigan on Wednesday afternoon. He made the drive back with a scholarship offer in tow.
Cain, a three-star small forward from Detroit Cornerstone Prep, added the Wolverines to his list of committable offers as U-M joined the likes of Xavier, Georgia, Marquette, Florida State and others as his biggest suitors.
Cain's outstanding play over the last season has raised his profile considerably, and Michigan should be a strong contender to land him. M has three open spots in the 2017 class in addition to a commitment from four-star SG Jordan Poole; that number could dwindle to two if John Beilein decides to fill the current open scholarship with a 2016 recruit, but either way Cain will be a top target moving forward.
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BREAKING: Grant Mullins has committed to Cal as his transfer destination per his Instagram https://t.co/203han7GQ1
— Mike McAllister (@McAllisterScout) April 27, 2016
Shortly after wrapping up a visit to Michigan, Columbia grad transfer Grant Mullins announced his commitment to Cal for his senior season. The combo guard was also considering Syracuse.
This leaves Michigan with an open scholarship for next season, and unless another grad transfer candidate emerges out of the blue, it's likely John Beilein will use it on a late-rising 2016 prospect—or, like he did last year, leave the scholarship open, which seems like the least-desirable route.
Sam Webb reported last week that Michigan was showing interest in four-star WI F Kostas Antetokuonmpo, but there hasn't been any word on him since then. The coaches checked in on IMG Academy three-star F Aleem Ford last week; he committed to Wisconsin shortly thereafter. Unless the coaches can get Antetokuonmpo to campus, they might be scrambling for other options.
Those other options almost certainly won't include Spike Albrecht, who's already visited Purdue and plans to see Wichita State and Syracuse. Even if Michigan decides they're willing to sacrifice some early development for Xavier Simpson to bring Albrecht back, the Wolverines won't represent Spike's best opportunity to play the most minutes.
So pumped for the Don Brown era. Half because of his defense, and half because dude is on Harbaugh's level when it comes to photos:
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) March 30, 2016
Don Brown's seen some things. Some things better left buried. But the law doesn't work like that. The law just keeps bringing things back, like a cat with a hairball.
Basketball roster not exactly set yet. Michigan has lost Spike Albrecht and Ricky Doyle, bringing their 2013 roster to 13. But they don't appear entirely settled with their roster yet:
Michigan, California, Syracuse and Hawaii are among the schools that have contacted Columbia grad transfer Grant Mullins.
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 30, 2016
Mullins, a combo-guard, was super-efficient in the Ivy League last year (36th nationally in ORTG, 44% from three, lots of FTs at 83%) on a team that looks a lot like Michigan, statistically. Michigan also reached out to Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome, though it doesn't look like anything is coming of that.
What's the deal with that as regards Spike, then? I don't know. Maybe Spike isn't likely to be the same player, or Xavier Simpson was going to take his minutes. Or Michigan is just keeping options open in case someone who has not decided to transfer does so in the future.
Red status not set either. Red's offered some quotes to news organizations about his impending decision, which seems honestly yet to be determined:
“I’m going to talk to [Manuel]…I don’t want to make an emotional decision because I’m mad at somebody or something, I want to make a decision that’s good for the program,” Berenson said.
Who or what he would be mad at is unknown. This in the Free Press doesn't really sound like a guy who was planning to come back but wanted to anyway:
“There’s no question ... the start of the year, I was pretty much resigned to the fact this would be the last year,” Berenson said. “But as the year went on, it got better and better. I thought it made more sense and it was working.
“I don’t want to be in the way, that’s the other thing. If I’m going to coach, I want to coach.”
The relative success of the team might extend his desire to coach. So… yeah. I said my bit on what should happen already.
Not bad. Wisconsin hired Tony Granato as their new head coach. Granato is a former NHL head coach who is a Wisconsin alum who had a prolific NHL career; he was a Wings assistant. He's bringing his brother Don, the NTDP head coach, and former OSU coach Mark Osiecki with him. Osiecki was doing a not-bad job with OSU when his tenure was suddenly and inexplicably terminated just three years in.
That is a lot of coaching firepower for one program. Wisconsin is going to bounce back just fine. With the addition of Notre Dame this early blip in Big Ten hockey is going to look like just that—a blip. The league has four historical powerhouses; those programs don't just stay down.
Well, most of them…
Not good. Meanwhile in erstwhile Big Ten hockey powers, Tom Anastos still has a job because apparently Sunil Gulati is running MSU's athletic department now. Mark Hollis is making statements that are downright delusional:
“I feel really good about where we’re at,” Hollis said. “…I’m also an AD that has to look at, ‘OK, what’s the next five years going to look like, based upon the past five years?’ And from all the assessments I’ve put into this and all the folks I’ve talked to, I’m very confident we’re going to have success here next year and in the immediate future.”
That is the most insane thing I've heard an athletic director say, and I was exposed to years of Dave Brandon. Anastos's teams have gotten worse every year, and this is year five. You can no longer say these things in year five:
Comley left the program bare, though Anastos has been careful not be be overly critical publicly. Most of the players he inherited were not highly recruited.
And guess what… most of the players Anastos is recruiting are not highly recruited. Their recruiting class is bulked up with 20-year-olds like MSU is Merrimack or something, and the guy they seem the most hyped about coming in next year is an overage forward out of the BCHL named Taro Hirose.
Hirose does have a nice line (15-56-71 in 58 games). It probably won't translate. Dexter Dancs came out of that league two years ago with 67 points in 56 games and has mostly been a fourth-liner at Michigan. Before him, Ben Winnett had 58 points in just 39 games; his career high in four years at Michigan was 14 points.
Meanwhile Anastos will not have the services of leading scorer MacKenzie MacEachern, former third round pick and the most Scottish thing not in a bottle. His lone returning draftee at F was –30 last year. I mean… what does it take to fire this guy?
I look forward to having the "Tom Anastos still has a job?" conversation again next year after Wisconsin gets instantly better with their new staff. I'm sorry I'm a broken record about this but keeping Anastos is brutal for the league and what used to be my favorite rivalry in sports.
Michigan's first offer recipient for 2017 became their first commitment in the class this evening when four-star Milwaukee (WI) Rufus King shooting guard Jordan Poole picked Michigan in a ceremony at his school.
4*, #19 SG,
|4*, 87, #16 PG||
4*, 92, #16 SG,
4*, #21 SG,
Poole is generally regarded as a top-100 prospect; he's just a couple spots outside ESPN's early top 60 and otherwise makes all the services' top x lists. There's some disparity on his size; Rivals and 247 list him at 6'4" and 180-185 pounds; Scout at 6'3", 175; and ESPN is the outlier at 6'1", 160, which seems quite outdated.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: Poole was a big riser during the latest evaluation period, resulting in a number of big-time offers, including Illinois, Indiana, Marquette, and Michigan. As a sharpshooting combo guard who's developing as a ballhandler, he earned a very intriguing comparison from Scout's Derek Piper ($):
Poole was at his best at the NY2LA Summer Jam in Mequon, Wis. a few weeks ago. He showcased his loaded arsenal at the offensive end, which includes a pure outside stroke, effortless handles and superb court vision. Even playing up at the 17U level, Poole put opposing defenses to the test with everything he brings to the floor.
There’s a reason he has earned the nicknames of “Splash” and “Baby Steph”. Poole operates with a natural smoothness to his game, and his range extends far beyond the three-point line. Poole can splash NBA-range triples with ease and his overall skill set continues to grow. Even taking the role as a facilitator at times, Poole was extremely impressive.
ESPN's evaluation finishes with the very same comparison ($):
Poole is a rangy 2-guard prospect that can knock in jump shots out to 23-feet. He has a smooth effortless release and he understands how to square himself up for the shot. His shot is deadly off the catch and he oozes confidence. His ball skills are coming around and his step-back dribble and crossover are getting tighter. In addition, he is a quality passer and understands angles while feeding the post. He has a decent 1st step and has the ability to utilize the "step through dribble" while tossing in the occasional runner.
Poole is wiry and he'll need to get considerably stronger to withstand physical defenders. He needs to improve his triple threat game, especially his 1st step. In addition, he needs to get more explosive and stronger while trying to finish through contact. His ball handling is solid, but that is another area that needs polishing.
Poole has a ways to go before he fills out, but his skill set reminds us of a high school version of Steph Curry.
Now that we all need a cold shower at the thought of a Steph Curry in a John Beilein offense, it's worth noting Curry made huge strides in his shot release, ballhandling, and defense when he got to the NBA. But still. This would be very nice.
247's Andrew Slater has a very detailed, free scouting report from Poole's performance at June's Nike Elite 100 camp (I added paragraph breaks for readability and bolded a few things for emphaiss):
Poole is an excellent three-point shooter, both off of the catch and dribble, but is slightly better off of the catch and from the right-hand side of the arc. The Milwaukee native has a very release, excellent form, and deep range on his shot. While he can penetrate, he seems to prefer to pull up. Although he doesn't have a mature body, at this venue, Poole was able to withstand contact on penetration. He will need to add muscle.
Even though the strength of his game is as a deep knock-down shooter with a good crossover, the right-hander also demonstrated good court vision in transition and off of penetration. The Wisconsin Playground guard needs to be able to finish better with his left hand. While he often created his own shot off of the dribble, he will need to strengthen this area of his game. Poole seems to be a better off-the-ball defender who uses his relatively high basketball IQ to generate steals off of errant or well-telegraphed passes.
At 6'2", Poole, who has average athleticism, has good size for a combo, but will be slightly undersized for a high-major two guard, but doesn't look like he's done growing. While he showed an ability to hit the mid-range shots in drills, he almost exclusively either pulled up from deep beyond the arc or opted to attempt to attack the rim. Poole seemed to demonstrate relatively good leadership ability.
At the same event, Poole also caught the attention of Scout's Brian Snow:
Jordan Poole was definitely one of the breakout players at the camp. The Milwaukee native absolutely lit up the nets from deep with his jumper. When given time and space he was one of the most consistent shooters all weekend, and then he also showed some aptitude for being able to play the point. Running a team is still a work in progress, but he has decent floor vision and can really stretch the court, especially off of ball screens.
Depending on how he hones his ability to run an offense and defend quicker guards, Poole could end up at the one or the two at Michigan; for now, it looks like he'll be a floor-stretching shooting guard who can slide over and play the one in a pinch.
Poole holds offers from Auburn, Bradley, Drake, UW-Green Bay, Illinois, Indiana, Marquette, Memphis, UW-Milwaukee, Nebraska, and Virginia Tech, among a few others. All of the high-major offers came in after the most recent evaluation period.
According to MaxPreps, Poole averaged 14.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists against 1.7 turnovers, and 1.8 steals per game as a sophomore while posting impressive 50/40/80 (2P%/3P%/FT%) shooting splits.
Shorter sophomore highlights:
Poole's breakout performance at the NY2LA Summer Jam:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Poole looks like an ideal fit at the two in John Beilein's system due to his shooting ability and range. He also has a relatively quick path to playing time; when he arrives in 2017, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman will be the only combo guard type on the roster, and Rahk will be a senior that season. By 2018-19, Poole should be starting alongside 2016 point guard Xavier Simpson.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is technically full on scholarships for 2017-18, but there will inevitably be attrition between now and then. Four-star IN F Jaren Jackson is the other offer recipient so far in the 2017 class and should get a great deal of attention from the coaching staff.
Buckle Up: Jordan Poole Announces Friday
Michigan waited longer than most programs to hand out offers to 2017 basketball prospects, but their selectiveness may help them land a commitment—and very soon, at that. Four-star WI SG Jordan Poole picked up his offer when he first visited campus for the BYU game; at the time he told The Wolverine's Chris Balas that the distinction of being M's first offer recipient in the class wasn't lost on him ($):
"I thought it was great," he said. "I really didn't know they hadn't offered anyone else until I got there. It shows they look for certain people and qualities as far as basketball and personality.
"For me to be the first …. Coach Beilein doesn't just give out offers. Some schools give out offer after offer. Coach Beilein really takes the time thinking about the right fit, if a kid really likes school and is thinking about going there. Being the first in the 2017 class is amazing."
Poole visited campus again last weekend; he told Scout's Brian Snow it was a "great" trip ($). Yesterday, he set his announcement:
Four-star 2017 SG Jordan Poole will announce his decision Friday at 5:30 CT at his school https://t.co/NMMKxikYOX
— Brian Snow (@BSnowScout) October 20, 2015
All signs point to Michigan. Poole would be a nice pickup; he's the #92 overall player in the 247 Composite and holds offers from the likes of Auburn, Illinois, Indiana, and Marquette.
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