TO THE HOT TAKE CANNON
World Cup stuff. LET'S GOOOOOOO
Zonal Marking has previews for the entire group, and despite the late shift by the US they are right on point with theirs.
The holding midfielder could still be Jones, if Klinsmann is adventurous, but Kyle Beckerman came into the side against Nigeria, having also played there against Mexico, and is a much better fit. Playing at the base of a diamond is a specialist role, and Klinsmann is fortunate to be able to call upon Beckerman, who has been playing in that position for Real Salt Lake, where he is captain.
The 2010 squad was packed with youth, and therefore it’s no surprise that the majority of players have retained their places as they’ve gained more experience. But as Ghana’s reputation has grown, they’ve been forced to adapt to different challenges. When they were the underdogs, they could sit back, remain compact and counter-attack extremely swiftly. Now opponents are aware of that threat, they’re forced to become more proactive, but lack the creativity and incision to dominate games and score goals.
The Ghanian friendly against South Korea could not have echoed that evaluation more closely; Ghana spent most of the game watching South Korea play around with the ball and not quite score, and then they executed ruthlessly—and somewhat fortunately—on the break. This is a game in which hoofing it upfield under pressure is understandable.
Note that Ghana has probably lost wing/forward Majeed Waris, who tore a quad in that game. The guy who replaced him scored a hat trick, but Waris was first choice and played well in qualifying.
Portugal always have roughly the same style, roughly the same strengths and weaknesses, and roughly the same chance of winning the competition. It’s no different this time around. Portugal’s starting XI for World Cup 2014 is extremely similar to their starting XI for Euro 2012, and it’s a familiar story – solid defence, talented central midfield, dangerous wide players, no prolific striker.
Talented players everywhere, but guaranteed cohesion nowhere. It feels like there’s a World Cup-winning XI somewhere in this side, and if Low had infinite friendlies to work out who works well together, he’d eventually find the winning combination.
There is no possibility that this World Cup will cast itself in Garrincha’s image more than Pelé’s. But if his spirit could just touch it a little. If the next month could just remind us that FIFA’s agenda is not all that soccer can be.
And here's an excellent and informative breakdown of how the US played against Nigeria and how important it is to keep things tight at the back:
Let's compare things to other things. The perennial easy post is back in force thanks to the unfamiliarity of where soccer nations fit in everyone's pantheon. Crimson Quarry takes a swing at comparing World Cup outfits to Big Ten basketball programs:
The Fab Five was a phenomenon in the 1990s, and the Wolverines made two title games but lost. Meanwhile, Total Football was a phenomenon in the 1970s for the Netherlands, who also made it to two World Cup finals and lost both. Since then, both teams have made it to the finals another time, but lost in the process. In addition, both have recently had strong offenses with suspect defenses, and love to refer to their teams by the colors of their jerseys. "Hup Holland" is basically the Dutch equivalent of "Go Blue." Plus, the state of Michigan even has a city called Holland. It makes too much sense.
That's a swing and a miss, from my perspective. Argentina is where it's at: offensively enthralling, weak on defense, had a moment of glory in the 80s.
Speaking of Indiana. IU QB Tre Roberson is transferring:
"We appreciate and thank Tre for his contributions to our football program both on and off the field," Wilson said. "He is an outstanding player and a great young man. We wish him well as he moves forward with his career."
Normally that would be a who-cares blip but after last year when Roberson came in for Sudfeld and nearly drove Indiana to a win, not so much. Taking the dual threat option away from the Hoosiers makes their offense considerably less scary.
Wait, what? Jeff Goodman has a list of the best developers of talent in the college basketball coaching ranks. John Beilein slides in at #3:
3) John Beilein, Michigan Wolverines: He’s starting to churn out NBA guys lately -- Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., and Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III this year. “Player development,” said one NBA scout. “Bottom line. He works on players' individual games. There’s a lot of shooting, of course, but every practice he takes 20 or so minutes to focus on getting guys better.”
This makes plenty of sense, as Beilein's made a specialty of making three-stars into early entries starting with the Burke/Hardaway class, and with Caris LeVert on the horizon Michigan will have dumped six guys into the NBA in three years, only one of whom was particularly hyped when he committed—McGary.
That makes sense. The rest of the list… hoo boy. #2 is Ben Howland who is unemployed at the moment. #4 is Tom Izzo, because… uh… Draymond? I mean, when your list of top NBA developers has an entry that starts like this…
Izzo doesn’t necessarily churn out a ton of NBA guys
…you may want to re-evaluate your list.
Calipari also shows up, because he doesn't tear many ACLs.
That's one way to approach it. Miami has decided they can sell more tickets by getting people to go to fewer games.
It's basically a two-game package of the FSU game and the North Carolina game, comparable to Michigan's mini-packages with Penn State and anything else except incrementally more desperate.
Come on down. Sounds like the Michigan Elite Camp couldn't have gone much better from a recruiting standpoint. UMHoops caught up with Derryck Thornton, Jr.:
“It was probably my best visit, it was great,” Thornton reiterated. “The staff did a great job so that was one of my better visits, if not the best one.” …
“I’m going to wait for my dad to get back and we’re going to talk about that soon,” Thornton responded when asked if he’d think about committing early. “I’m not sure, but I think I’m willing to commit and make the early decision.”
Rivals echoes the confidence($) you might have on their message board—Thornton's dad responded to a question about whether Battle and Thornton will end up in Ann Arbor and got the response "high"—and I'm pretty sure one of the Thorntons—probably the elder—registered for a Scout account so he could assert that Thornton would not stay on the West Coast. It would be excellent to get a commitment by the end of summer.
Meanwhile, Tyus Battle was also impressed…
“Michigan was awesome, we had a great time,” Gary said. “Tyus really enjoyed the visit. The coaching staff is very thorough. We really enjoyed their presentation and the campus and the way they would use Tyus. Obviously, academically Michigan is something we like a lot.”
…but doesn't seem like he's anywhere near as likely to drop in the near future. The Big Blue death star looms:
“We’re trying to really focus on Kentucky right now,”Gary Battle told SNY.tv by phone. “That’s always been something we had planned to do and Cal had expressed some high interest in the kid and he’s always wanted to go and check it out.”
Battle will be a… wait for it… battle. If Michigan can secure Thornton, the two guys have said they want to play together. Battle's father:
“And for Tyus, I think a lot of guys want to play with Tyus but Derryck definitely, he’s an easy kid to want to play with as well according to Tyus. They were pretty excited about it cause they consider each other brothers and have known each other for a long time.”
Let's hope that package stays together. FWIW, Battle's father flat-out stated "I think Derryck's going to Michigan."
Given all this, it'll be interesting to see what happens on June 15th. Cassius Winston has checked the offer boxes and is pretty much a five star himself, and KY PG Quentin Goodin says he expects an offer too. If I had to bet, I'd say he ends up disappointed. Winston is on another level and instate. He probably gets one.
Hello, eh. Hockey announces their four late additions: Tony Calderone, Sam Piazza, Niko Porikos, and Alex Talcott. (They're still working on Zach Werenski's accelerated entry, it appears.) The release is the usual but it does give you some indication of where these guys might slot in on the depth chart. Talcott gets "depth" and "energy" mentions and Porikos is compared to Andrew Sinelli; they seem like guys for down the road.
"Tony comes here with the reputation of a player who puts numbers up and has a great shot," associate head coach Billy Powers said. "Offensively, we expect Tony to add to his game here. He's a skilled offensive player who has had two good years in the USHL"
"Sam is a defenseman who is not afraid to join the rush," Powers said. "He's got great offensive instincts and we're hoping that he adds some offense at the blue line. We're excited that Sam will have an opportunity to show what he can do early on."
…on the other hand, should compete for spots this fall. The four just announced join Cutler Martin, Dexter Dancs, and Dylan Larkin as incoming freshmen. Chris Heisenberg's listing Werenski as a 2014 recruit, but Michigan likely cannot announce that until he's on campus.
Three years after suffering a gruesome career-ending injury in 2005, former Alabama star Tyrone Prothro wrote a book, Catch & Hold. He wanted to include some action shots from his playing career, but upon contacting a university photographer he learned he'd have to buy the images from the school's website for $10 apiece. So, he didn't include them.
Uh… wow. I bet that's just for a download and doesn't even include redistribution rights. Athletes! Do we have a picture of you? You can use it for free. I would like to thank Kevin Trahan for blowing up the NCAA's constant assertions that "hey, you get stuff!" is anything approximating a legal defense.
Oh man. Ramzy instructs you how not to be an asshole to recruits. I do not want to get on the ol' high horse because I've seen my share of miserable awful things from Michigan fans—we have it just as bad—and the linked piece is a fine, fine intra-fanbase immolation. But… wow.
AIN'T NO REGULATIONS AGAINST CHILD BRIDES AMIRITE
Maybe 95% as bad.
So That Was Odd And Didn't Happen
PROTIP: DON'T GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH "ABORT" WITHOUT "MISSION"
WVU transfer Eron Harris is headed to MSU, and without ever visiting Ann Arbor. This was seemingly a mutual decision after a conversation before the visit, as Harris had a vision of the way he wanted it to go that Beilein did not share. So, okay. Whatever.
2015 Class: Still Trying To Exist
Moving on, the 2015 roster now looks approximately like this, give or take a Caris NBA departure or miraculous Hatch recovery:
- PG: Walton (Jr), Albrecht (Sr)
- SG: MAAR(So)
- SF: Irvin (Jr), Dawkins (So)
- PF: Chatman (So), Wilson (So), Bielfeldt(Sr)
- C: Doyle (So), Donnal (So)
You could probably slide Irvin and Chatman down a spot, but the upshot is that Michigan would like a guy approximately shaped like a shooting guard. Given the age and NBA departure threat levels of the folks on the roster, a PG/SG combo would be a nice fit. Prime candidates include offerees like MI combo Eric Davis, IL PG Jalen Brunson, and IN SG Jalen Coleman. All of these gentlemen have Michigan in a leading group, and MSU adding two 2015 SG types in a couple days should help Michigan out—MSU is also in the lead group for all those gentlemen.
Status for those three:
Davis wants to narrow by July, take officials in August and September, and decide by October. He wants to shoot a lot of threes, so we've got that going for us.
Brunson has a top eight including Michigan that he wants to narrow in August, and then he'll take officials and decide before the November signing period. Playing time has always been a major priority for him, so Michigan might actually want him to wait until spring. If he decides before it's clear whether Caris enters the draft (or Walton—longshot I know, but I'd like to introduce you to 10% of this year's first round).
Coleman, as per usual, has not provided any indication of when or where he might commit. He did tell a 247 gentleman that he was planning on "cutting his list soon" and that fit (check), opportunity (likely check) and proximity to home (eh… close enough?) are his main priorities.
Coleman has been too busy making rims explode on the AAU circuit to get too much into recruiting, where he's shooting 50% from three on almost 100 attempts. 247's Crystal Ball still says Michigan almost all the way, but with Coleman telling folks that "to this point, Coleman's dad has been in charge of the recruitment—with Jalen having little involvement" means that you should take any and all thoughts/hopes Michigan leads with a graint of salt.
2015 Big Options
If Chatman does end up sliding down to the 3, which is very possible with his skill set, Michigan would have a reasonably-sized opening for either a 4 or a 5, depending on where they want to play Mark Donnal long term. There are a couple options in this recruiting class still.
One is OH PF Esa Ahmad, who's a little undersized at 6'7" but has been playing well and is planning visits to both MSU and Michigan. Another is 6'10" Henry Ellenson, a power forward out of Wisconsin with three point range and a lot of high-major interest. Michigan is currently on the periphery pending the all-important visit:
"Michigan was at my house, and so was Michigan State," Ellenson said. "Michigan has been talking to me lately. I like Coach [John] Beilein down there. He is a great guy and easy to talk to.
"I know I will take my five officials next fall, but I'm not sure where I am going yet. I know they are big on coming to campus. We'll just see if the timing works out."
Get 'em on campus, etc. Ahmad and Ellenson are both ranked around 50 or 60 most places… except ESPN, which has Ellenson 5th(!) overall.
Michigan's elite camp has come and gone with three headliners: NJ SG Tyus Battle, NV PG Derryck Thornton Jr, and MI PG Cassius Winston, all 2016 five-stars. Those three were the class of the camp, according to Scout. Sam Webb on Thornton($):
This kid has all of the tools. Elite quickness, explosion, three-point range, and he is unselfish. He crossed too many players over to really keep track of and was generally capable of getting to wherever he wanted on the floor. Thornton excels in space, which is why it wasn’t a surprise to see him wave off ball screens. He just doesn’t need them to leverage on a defender.
[Much, much more at the link, FWIW.]
Despite that, the Scout guys generally thought Winston was better right now, though Thornton had more upside because of the whole nobody-can-stay-in-front thing. Battle is a lights-out 6'5" shooter.
Other notables($) included IN SG Kyle Guy ("a much smaller Nik Stauskas"), OH C Jon Teske ("6-10 and skilled … the physical part will come"), and OH SF Seth Towns ("6-7 shooter" whose shot wasn't falling). I don't think Guy or Teske will get offers until M lets Battle and TJ Leaf think about theirs; Towns is still a possibility since Michigan doesn't seem to have a guy obviously in front of him on their board, but it sounds like that offer may take a little bit longer to come.
Teske seems like he's almost recruiting M at this point, and a 6'10" guy with skill inside and out is someone Michigan will be keeping an eye on.
Thorton's vague top five
Thornton told Scout that five teams were coming for him hardest: Kentucky, Michigan, UConn, Cal, and USC. Those kind of statements are generally soft top X lists, and it seems unlikely Cal or USC can hang with the two teams that just met in the NC game and Derryck's dad's coach. Thornton on M($):
“Their offense is so spread out. They’re about development but the offense is really spread out, the bigs are mobile and there’s a lot of pick and roll stuff. They key on development and I love that.”
Thornton has no timetable but it sounds like he might get things over quickly.
“It’s early but I already have 20 offers,” noted Battle. “Michigan has been recruiting me hard, Villanova, Syracuse, Ohio State, Duke, and several other schools.”
Michigan may be recruiting him harder than everyone else because Thornton is recruiting for them? Yeah! That's the ticket. That is the ticket.
Now that we've reached the relatively busy summer, it's time to once again temporarily break out basketball recruiting into its own post.
2015 Saginaw combo guard Eric Davis has acquired a Michigan offer after an unofficial to Ann Arbor. Davis, a 6'3" gentleman ranked in the top 50 most places, has offers from big chunks of the Big Ten, Florida, and UCLA. He's currently projected to head to State, though he's played things close to the vest. He told Rivals "I don't have favorites," just like Jalen Coleman tends to do. Unlike Coleman, he does have an idea when he'd like to get things over with: September.
Davis is only the third guy Michigan has offered in the 2015 class; Jalens Brunson and Coleman are the others. Does this say something about Michigan's confidence level with them? Probably. If either was super enthused they would not be waiting around. They'd be trying to pre-empt Eron Harris.
Speaking of Harris, it's status quo($) with him: looking to visit Michigan and State and then make a decision. It is possible that the two schools are going to get some combination of everybody they're competing over: Brunson, Coleman, Harris, and Davis are all mutual targets who play SG/PG who are projected to one school or the other by the Crystal Ball or down to those two and Purdue. Whoever drops first would push the others towards the rival.
Leaf Acquisition: Possible
Along with a gaggle of high-profile 2016 point guards Michigan is also receiving favorable attention from 2016 CA PF TJ Leaf, currently a five star. Leaf's family is originally from Indiana, mitigating distance issues, and for a face-up 3/4 like Leaf, Michigan's style of play is highly attractive. His dad gave Sam Webb some encouraging quotes($) in a lengthy article:
“What we like about Michigan is that the two, three, four positions seem to be somewhat interchangeable from the way that I see it,” Leaf’s father and coach Brad said. “That’s the type of versatility that T.J. has and that’s what Michigan likes… guys that can play multiple positions. This is why we really really think Michigan is a great fit for him at this point at this time in his career.”
Before you get too excited, Leaf has given highly positive quotes about Indiana as well, and any number of West Coast schools are pursuing him. Sounds like Michigan has as legit a shot as anyone.
Leaf was on campus for the most recent ND game and is thus in position to receive a June 15th offer.
I am probably going to hate you, no offense it's just sports
2015 WI SG Brevin Pritzl took a Michigan visit, left without an offer, visited Wisconsin, got his offer, and then said he would shut it down after visiting Marquette. He has a tentative plan to make a commitment by July. This has caused a flood of Wisconsin predictions on the 247 Crystal Ball, a group which we joined.
If Pritzl's going to be off the board in a couple months it's likely Michigan will either have acquired Eron Harris or still be waiting on Jalen Coleman. So, yeah, file Pritzl under "guy making banked threes at the buzzer against M for Wisconsin."
I'm not going to bother learning how to spell this
A brief rumble of excitement shot through the e-fanbase a couple days back when Michigan was mentioned in the same breath as Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, a Ukrainian phenom who is apparently looking to hit up college basketball before the NBA.
Despite being 16, he is apparently a 2014 recruit, which complicates things for Michigan since they are currently pursuing Harris. Both Rivals and Sam Webb shot down the idea that uh… the Ukrainian guy was at all likely to even visit, with Webb saying flatly that it wasn't happening and Chris Balas mentioning that European teams are going to try to keep him across the Atlantic for the next couple years. Also, a few other teams—UVA and Kansas are most heavily mentioned for him—were ahead of M even if he decided to play in the USA.
Mykhailiuk is setting up some trips before making a decision; in the event that he does end up in Ann Arbor that would be the time to start planning your hybrid Ukrainian/Michigan flag. He has UVA and Kansas the next couple weeks. Michigan might take a poke if he's still on the market and Harris goes elsewhere.
Speaking of June 15th
That is of course the magic offer date for the 2016 class. One man's opinion on who gets issued scholarships on that date:
NV PG Derryck Thornton Jr—Undoubtedly Michigan's top priority.
CA PF TJ Leaf—see above. They don't have a higher post prority.
OH SF Seth Towns—has the grades and the visits, M seems to like him a lot. Not a slam dunk like Leaf/Thornton according to the rankings.
NJ SF Tyus Battle—as long as he comes in for camp and transcripts shake out would be goofy not to.
MI PG Cassius Winston—would file higher except for that UMHoops interview where he says he's on track for an offer by the end of the summer. Giving Thornton a shot to jump first? Or maybe a transcript thing he's fixing with summer school?
IN PG Eron Gordon—visited last fall, projected by world to go to IU, but a top 50 guy who may warrant an offer. But if they don't offer Winston it's hard to see them offering any PG until they get a sense that Thornton will wait.
KY PG Quentin Goodin—confirmed he will camp, so always a possibility.
ON PG Jamal Murray—visited for Indiana game in March, top 50 guy.
OH SF Matthew Moyer—straight A student who is enthusiastic about M. Michigan may prefer Towns.
NC DE Darian Roseboro took an extensive visit to Michigan last weekend and reported back favorably; Sam Webb has an article on the result, in which Roseboro's dad raves and says he's seen what there is to see:
“I’ve seen all I’m going to see,.” Mr. Roseboro said flatly. “I’m not going anymore visits. Maybe he and his mother and grandpa will go one or two more places… maybe Tennessee, maybe (North Carolina) State, (North) Carolina or Duke. It won’t be any place further than what we’ve been.”
They want to come to a decision in the next couple months between Michigan and the schools listed above. NC State is popularly held to be the biggest threat… can we still be confident recruiting against NC State? I feel we can. .
Camps and such continue
Rivals's camp tour arrived in Detroit recently, and while there aren't a whole lot of local 2015 kids that Michigan seems to be pursuing there is one they're definitely after. He is Cass Tech RB Mikey Weber:
"Nussmeier, the day he came in, he contacted me and he brought me to their facility and he showed me a lot of things and he really opened my eyes back to Michigan," Weber said. "Nussmeier brings that Alabama style of running and that's what I'm looking for."
Weber was named the #1 player on offense in attendance:
Weber was virtually unguardable during the one-on-one period. The Rivals250 member is extremely agile and can change directions on a dime. Weber ran extremely crisp routes and had very good hands.
MSU seems the main competition unless Notre Dame puts on a press, but we are now in a situation where we can hope a highly touted running back commits to MSU before Michigan's target decides. In this case that's OH RB Larry Scott, who is reportedly about to drop to MSU.
/waves tiny 'punt' flag
Notre Dame, for its part, just got back in after a "misunderstanding" had Weber thinking an offer was coming when it was not. The two parties still seem to be at arm's length at the moment.
Weber's planning a hats-on-the-table decision at the Army game, FWIW.
Malzone just has to fire the photon torpedoes down the tubes to get an offer
MI QB Alex Malzone was the QB MVP, FWIW, and may be inching closer to a Michigan offer:
The most noticeable thing about him was his rifle arm. The ball really pops off his hand and gets to his target in a hurry. Malzone's good footwork helped him throw a very accurate ball. He was able to hit most of his receivers in stride throughout the day.
His throwing session($) for various college coaches went well:
“My conversation with Coach Nuss went very well,” Malzone said. “He’s been all around the country seeing guys throw. I think he has one more, maybe two more on his list. He told everyone from the beginning he was going to see everyone throw. And then see what happens from there. And that’s pretty much what he told me. He said he was very impressed."
If I had to bet, Malzone's recent performances and flagging interest from the crew of elite California dudes will lead to Michigan issuing that offer. Wake Forest has issued his first BCS offer.
Elsewhere, PA OL commit Jon Runyan Jr showed up for a camp in the NY/NJ area, providing an opportunity for someone to provide scouting on him:
Runyan, a Michigan commit, was technically sound. His initial punch had purpose and he moved his feet well. He stayed low in his pass protection stance, and he did not reach. His balance was good, but he had a little difficulty when a speedy defensive lineman tried to go straight up the field on him. He was solid, and will continue to improve as his strength and size increase.
Listed at 6'3.5" and 265 pounds, Runyan is slated for the interior unless he hits a growth spurt.
Welp, part one
If you need a definition of how the recruiting landscape has shifted over the course of the last football season, here it is($):
Coming off a spring game visit to Michigan State on Saturday, Detroit King linebacker Tyriq Thompson has the Spartans out front as the team to beat in his recruitment. … Thompson's father played for Michigan and he holds an offer from the Wolverines.
Previously MSU was only in play for certain recruits with family backgrounds that favored MSU or had academic red flags that Michigan, for better or worse, is shying away from. Now they're leading for a Michigan legacy with a Michigan offer. This is what happens when you have the most unwatchable football season in the country while your instate rival wins the conference and Rose Bowl.
Quick, play some more LFO, Special K!
Welp, part two
CA DE Keisean Lucier-South called Michigan a childhood favorite and was super-enthused about the offer that did come from Ann Arbor, but at the moment he's got another school out front($):
"UCLA is probably I would say the team to beat right now. I have been talking to them the most right now and I've seen them and been to their school the most so they're the team to beat."
He does have an official planned to Michigan this fall (also ND) and is going to take his time.
OLSM LB Daelin Hayes was set to commit to Michigan at that Rivals camp before putting off his decision. His performance at the camp justified the early offer:
Hayes is looking like he will be among the nation's best in that class after what we saw on Sunday. It was always known that Hayes was talented, and that at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds he had ideal size. However, he missed his sophomore year after getting injured in the first game of the season and there was some questions as to justhow good he was. We got that question answered pretty sufficiently on Sunday when Hayes proved to be on another tier athletically.
As far as his recruitment goes, his current offers are from M, MSU, Wisconsin, and Tennessee and isn't maintaining any leaders. He plans to camp($) at M, MSU, and Wisconsin so it doesn't seem like he's looking to go too far afield.
MI OL Thiyo Lukasa seems to be an instate battle, one that probably favors Michigan this instant but see Welp Part One above.
Basketball is going better, stop me if you've heard that before
Chatman and Wilson zoom up available rankings
It's another final rankings update, so Michigan recruits must be shooting towards the ceiling. This time it's Scout, which finally makes Kam Chatman a five star (at #23) after Chatman was the #1 four star on Rivals and 247. Also rocketing up the rankings is DJ Wilson, who finishes #67 after being an anonymous three star upon his commitment. "Gold in them thar hills" tag: deployed.
Unfortunately, it seems like Michigan and Cole Huff aren't going to end up making sweet three point babies… this sentence got really weird really fast. I was powerless to stop it, you have to believe me.
Anyway. According to his AAU coach, Huff is down to two:
Cole Huff is down to Creighton and Iowa where he is visiting tomorrow he will be making a decision following the visit #Eleate
— clint parks (@Brotherhood05) May 1, 2014
Given the way they'd been talking about Michigan before I have to assume that Michigan did not end up pursuing Huff. That isn't the craziest thing in the world if Chatman and Wilson are both stretch fours… I just thought a guy who had that size and shot like that would be a lock to perform under Beilein. C'est la vie.
With Huff off the board, the next major event in basketball recruiting is likely to be the June window in which Michigan conducts its elite camp and fires out offers to 2016 prospects. Michigan is going to have a couple of big, big time guys on campus for that camp. One of them is going to be NV PG Derryck Thornton Jr. If that seems like an odd place for a guy super interested in Michigan to be, Chris Balas has a long piece($) on the reason Michigan is high on his list. Turns out Jeff Meyer coached his father back in the day when he was at Liberty, and things went better than they do with Rutgers coaches:
"One word - integrity," Thornton Sr. told us last year. "I remember him as a man as much as a coach. He had high integrity. Of course he'd get after you in practice, but that's what you do as a coach. There were times he'd call you just to check on you and see how you were doing."
Tom Crean just fainted, then cut down some nets.
Thornton plans to be at Michigan's elite camp for nearly a week, and an offer will certainly follow. Thornton is the #19 player in the country on the 247 composite, and their Crystal Ball has swung from 100% Arizona to 50-50 over the past few weeks.
As a bonus, Thornton and his dad have seemingly convinced NJ SF Tyus Battle to take in the elite camp as well. Syracuse is supposed to lead for Battle; get 'em on campus and all that.
And Michigan has plenty of options after those two… it seems that the 2016 cycle is the one where Michigan is really starting to see the payoff from their recent success. AL SG Josh Langford (not that Josh Langfeld), claims "high interest($)" in Michigan…
“Oh I definitely want to get up to Michigan,” Langford’s father said. “And Michigan State has also shown a lot of interest too so, I definitely want to get up to Michigan to check them out.”
…MI PG Cassius Winston is waiting on his offer, KY PG Quentin Goodin is tentatively planning to go head-to-head with Thornton at the elite camp, and ON PG Jamal Murray has M and MSU near the top of his list with only one visit under his belt—that to Michigan. Chances are Michigan locks down a top-50 PG in 2016.
Etc.: 2016 PA RB Miles Sanders is a Michigan offeree who's just getting into the recruiting process($). Penn State just offered. 2015 UT LB Osa Masina releases a top eight with Michigan in it. More importantly: is his twitter handle a shoutout to Greg Ostertag?
Hello. Ace is on vacation, so I take over recruitin' for the week.
Let's start with basketball, because things are happening(!)
Huff and Dawkins will decide within a month
The departure of Mitch McGary leaves Michigan with two scholarship yet to give in this recruiting class and Michigan seems determined to give them, what with someone blowing up into a lottery pick every year. Unusually for spring-term basketball recruiting, when things like "Michigan got a commitment from Spike who?" occur, the picture here is crystal clear.
Option 1A: CA/NH SF Aubrey Dawkins took his visit to Dayton and came back asserting that he was done taking visits($) and that he'd have a decision between the Flyers and M within a week. No offense to Dayton, but this quote seems to favor Michigan:
"It’ll really be academics… which is better from that standpoint? Which degree carries more weight?”
Some guys talk about academics and they mean having a support system that will guide them through; Dawkins talking about prestige seems like a good indicator for Michigan and its shiny rankings. Dawkins also dropped a quote about being "pleasantly surprised($)" by his visit to Dayton, which is a backhanded compliment that gives you an idea of where his mind was going into that trip. Dawkins did give a different decision criteria to the Dayton site:
"The most important thing I'm looking for is opportunity and how I can come in and contribute. Not necessarily start, but carving out a role on the team."
If Michigan can convince Dawkins of that they'll probably land him. With just fellow sleeper freshman-to-be Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman slated to back up the SF/SG spots, it seems likely they'll be able to do so.
Option 1B: Nevada SF/PF transfer Cole Huff set three visits before the McGary news, all to schools in the Midwest, and then added Michigan once their spot was definitively open. He was at Creighton yesterday, Iowa next week, and Dayton the week after. The chatter coming from Huff's camp (ie, his AAU coach Clint Parks) is positive for Michigan, to the point that quotes like this are showing up in newspapers:
“As far as Cole goes, it’s Michigan,” Parks said. “And when a school like Michigan calls…”
And that was before Huff was certain he had an offer. He is now. Huff would be a terrific add, already the top pick and pop guy in the country(!) as a sophomore coming off a year of weights and Beilein coachin'.
That would fill Michigan's scholarship allotment for the first time in a while with no seniors last year. Don't be alarmed, though. Even if Michigan does get both Huff and Dawkins they'll likely have room next year to chase the Brunsons and Colemans of the world. Michigan may not exercise their option of giving Max Bielfeldt a fifth year, Austin Hatch may end up on medical scholarship, and if LeVert continues on his current trajectory he'll be pirated away by the NBA—especially if the NBA moves to a 20-year-old minimum. The median expectation for scholarships to give next year seems to be 3, plus or minus a LeVert or Irvin or Walton.
If Michigan misses on one of the two gentlemen above, the spectacularly-named Igor Ibaka is a name that's been bandied about after announcers at older brother Serge's NBA game said he was gathering Michigan interest. Igor, a 6'9" PF currently at a JUCO as he adapts to life in the US, does not appear to be a serious target at the moment.
Nothing much is happening with 2015s, as is basketball recruiting's wont, so after the spring period resolves itself the next major event will be Michigan's annual June 15th offer spree to 2016s.
Offer watch at QB?
MI QB Alex Malzone is threw for for Nussmeier($) this week and should get clarity as to where he sits on Michigan's list. WOTS is that things went well:
I'm hearing that @alexmalzone KILLED it in his throwing session this morning! Crisp, accurate... very few balls hit the ground
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) April 28, 2014
If Michigan does offer it sounds like Malzone is likely to drop soon thereafter.
Most valuable hooray, not on lists boo
Kinnel got a Prestigious Invite this weekend
OH S Tyree Kinnel is one of the least touted defensive backs to commit to Michigan over the past couple years, and that's a good thing. Kinnel's a four star most places and will at least be holding his spot on Rivals after he was named the DB MVP($) of their most recent camp:
Kinnel's play during one-on-ones sealed the deal. He was very physical with the wide receivers and had very good instincts. Kinnel wasn't tricked by head fakes and knew when to sit on a route. He bumped many receivers off their route in the open field and was deceptively explosive when breaking on the ball.
Kinnel got an invite to their Five Star Challenge thing and will get an opportunity to move up. That was a Rivals-exclusive event FWIW, so don't expect anyone else to react.
Also of note from that camp are LBs Brendan Ferns and Darrin Kirkland. Ferns (Yes That Ferns) is Michigan freshman Michael's younger brother and despite being a 2016 he drew mention as a guy to watch, as he's already a little bigger than his brother and "moved very well in space." Ferns recently picked up offers from Minnesota and WVU to go with a Virginia one that kicked things off. Michigan is still evaluating.
Kirkland, meanwhile, has a Michigan offer and there was a window in which chatter had him strongly considering becoming member of the class. That should cease, as Kirkland's moving his commitment date back from May 30th to August after Texas and Nebraska offers and Michigan does not seem super high on his list at the moment:
Kirkland is prepared to narrow his list of offers to a top eight on Sunday. He previewed that list by naming Ole Miss and Tennessee as two schools who were strong contenders to make the cut. He has visited both programs, traveling to Ole Miss within the last month.
Kirkland did tell Brandon that Michigan would be in that top eight a couple weeks ago.
Also in guys getting diverted from Michigan, PA OL Sterling Jenkins reconfirmed his final two of OSU and PSU.
We are on this list at least
"I think the Michigan one went better than the Ohio State one to be honest. I felt a little more comfortable with the players at Michigan. Both Coach Hoke and Coach Meyer have a good idea of what they want to do at the tight end position. I think I would say that Michigan is the favorite right now though."
Post-visit glow is always something to be cautious of; in this case a guy coming off an OSU visit who still says he likes M better is probably meaningful. Clark's next stop is a June visit to MSU. Unfortunately, these days you can't just go "lol out of state recruit visiting State." See above.
FWIW, Clark's high school, Avon Old Farms, sent Mike Cox to Michigan.
That seems less than good
MN DE Jashon Cornell took a visit to Michigan State's spring game. Before he said there was a possibility he would swing by Michigan afterwards; he apparently did not. And the aftermath:
Five-star DE Jashon Cornell says Michigan State is his No. 1 school after his visit today
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) April 26, 2014
Whether or not that stands up, that's a new spot for MSU to be for a big time recruit who doesn't live in Michigan. It spurred a number of 247 crystal ball folks to flip their prediction to the Spartans, including the creepily accurate Steve Wiltfong. Cornell plans a decision in August, so time is running out and officials will not make an impact. Your "guhhhhh" quote of the day:
“I noticed that defense is all world and I see myself playing in that defense in the future,” Cornell said.
MSU's recruiting profit from having 40k at Spartan Stadium for an actual game instead of a desultory 10k for 90 minutes of punting and 45 minutes of disjointed scrimmage is right there. Winning the Rose Bowl probably helps, yeah.
But not all is lost at DE
NC DE Darian Roseboro, a four-star on the fringe of the top 100 in the 247 composite, just finished a four-day(!) visit to Michigan. Articles are still pending; as a preview Sam Webb dropped a quote from Roseboro's dad in a message board post entitled($)
"The frontrunner for Roseboro?"
The answers to these questions are generally "yes"; Webb further asserted on WTKA that Michigan was now in "pole position" for Roseboro. FWIW, he's been predicted to NC State by the three people who have ventured a guess on the Crystal Ball.
A dance to the death with James Franklin
NJ OL Grant Newsome isn't announcing a top list, but it appears that Michigan and Penn State are well out in front for him. He's visited both campuses, plans to decide in late June, and wants to visit M and PSU again before that:
The four-star said he wants to see the full package at Penn State and let his mother see the campus at Michigan since she couldn’t make it when he visited this spring. Newsome said he wants to decide in late June after visiting the Lions and Wolverines in late May or early June, adding he does not plan to announce a top group prior to deciding.
Newsome also mentions M and PSU most prominently in a 247 article, with secondary mention to OSU, Alabama, and LSU.
Etc.: Further good feelings about FL WR Auden Tate from 247; if he visits sounds like it's time for a commit watch. VA DE Clelin Ferrell has Michigan in his top 10-ish($), but comment chatter from guys vouched for by 247 makes it sound like VT is the proverbial lock. Michigan offers 2016 DC OL Jauan Williams, whose only experience on a college campus is at Maryland. Wide open? The widest. They've also offered 2016 GA OL Ben Cleveland.
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.