no wonder we hired Hunter Lochmann
WARNING: This post contains graphic depictions of Glenn Robinson III committing violent acts upon basketball rims for no apparent reason. If you suffer from jam-related heart problems, please high-five your nearest cardiologist before viewing.
It's the weekly, roundtabley feature where we ask MGoStaff things that MGoReaders are asking. This week's recruits:
Brian Cook, 5-star, Center, 6'4/190. Finds gifs very exciting.
Seth Fisher, 4-star, Wing/guard, 6'0/238. Pure shooter.
Ace Anbender, 5-star, PG, 6'0/180, Mr. Basketball in Michigan
Mathlete, 4-star, SG, 5'10/185, Kansas offer
Blue in South Bend, 5-star, PF, 6'0/190, McDonald's All-American, #2 player in Indiana
And the query:
We have no doubts that John Beilein can unearth diamonds, and now there's mounting evidence he can jump into Top 10 battles as well. Do you think basketball crutin' can maintain these trends long-term, or that once the glow of a Finals run wears off and other teams catch on to his tricks that Michigan is in danger of falling back to the pack?
BiSB: A couple of things happened that might give this Time of Peace and Good Harvests some staying power. The first is the recent set of facility upgrades. The practice facility is clearly a big thing, and Crisler has gone from a near-crippling liability to, at worst, a neutral factor. Second, and probably more important, is that Beilein showed the ability to coach a team filled with elite talent, and to use thoroughbreds properly. The knock on Beilein is always that he's a "system guy" who uses faux-Euro tweeners to run top-of-the-key weaves and launch 30 3's a game. Michigan was getting out and running, throwing 'oops all over the place, and generally looking like an athletic killing machine. They even used a big man effectively. As much as the Aneurysm of Leadership was the turning point in this whole thing, blue chip talent doesn't want to be Zack Novak. They want to be GRIII, and to play for a coach who can utilize them properly. That Michigan made the final was obviously huge, but the fact that Michigan got to show their high-flying wares on a national stage was equally important. Also, Trey Burke was Trey Burke, which Trey Burke.
(…except when Trey Burke was Spike Albrecht doing his Trey Burke impression.)
Seth: As long as we're not expecting them all to be Trey Burke I agree the tournament run and the GR3-ness of the current roster should see Michigan settle somewhere among the top of the conference. Basketball recruiting isn't like football: there are a few teams who compete for the one-and-dones, and a few teams like MSU and Duke who remain consistently competitive from a steady stream of future NBA benchmen who want college degrees, pocked by an annual five-star or two who want part of the winning that entails. The thing that makes Beilein's niche sustainable, I think, is that it plays to Michigan's strengths as a program. It's still system ball (just with better side attributes). The difference now is he has access to those All-Americans who would be perfect candidates for his system and Michigan's academics, but who were scared off by the appearance that it couldn't compete at the top levels.
Mathlete: I actually think the current cycles will be the most critical. Beilein built the program to where it is today without guys who were elite prospects when committing (aside from Mitch McGary's one season on the books) and he knows who he is. He is going to keep building with the guys he needs and knows how to piece together. Today his scouting can include players inside the Top 100 lists, which is nice. The current danger is can he successfully do what he has always done while managing a roster of early departures. In basketball losing one player early can really alter the make-up of a team. This year Michigan will be replacing two and possibly two or five next year if Chad Ford has his say. This is what you call a good kind of problem but it is a new one. I have no doubt Beilein has put a lot more thought into this than we have, but he hasn't been around this on an annual basis like a Calipari has. The next two or three seasons on the court and in the recruiting cycles will determine if Michigan is elite to stay or whether last season was the high point and the program returns to where they were 2-3 years ago, consistent tournament team but not consistently elite.
Ace: I think the staff can maintain or even improve on this level of recruiting for a number of reasons, first and foremost because John Beilein and Co. are so good at identifying talent early. It's easier to get five-stars when you identify them when they're three-stars (GRIII) or start recruiting them heavily before the basketball blue-bloods (a big factor in Michigan's standing with Devin Booker).
The last couple years have also provided the perfect storm for Beilein to recruit at a level above his prior standard. Bryan mentioned the facilities and probably undersold them—having poked around the practice facility, I'd say Crisler Center is a critical recruiting tool. The Fab Five documentary came out, giving recruits reason to think Michigan basketball is cool for the first time since, well, before Tommy Amaker, anyway. Oh, and the basketball team made the title game on the strength of a three-star point guard developing into Trey MFing Burke, turning the supporting cast of talented freshmen into household names (even Spike!) and giving Beilein the ability to pitch national championship potential and have it really mean something.
We've already seen the interest from blue-chip prospects start to seriously pick up; look no further for evidence than 2015 five-star center Stephen Zimmerman, who hails from Las Vegas and appears to be showing the most interest in Michigan and Kentucky. That shows the momentum this program has right now. The key will be keeping Michigan at a level where they're competing for Big Ten titles and hitting the second weekend of the NCAA tournament (at least) with regularity. If they do that, these kind of players will keep poking around the program, and enough will sign to give the Wolverines more than enough talent when combined with Beilein's diamonds in the rough.
Brian: Basketball recruiting is far more volatile than football just because of the numbers involved. Take a look at Michigan State's current recruiting class: a couple of random three-stars they picked up late after Jabari Parker decided on Duke, along with everyone else they were recruiting. Or envision a world in which Mitch McGary goes to a more traditional power. So it's hard to judge when Michigan's barely been in a big-timer recruiting battle yet.
Instead they've made their hay on identifying prospects quickly and getting them to pull the trigger immediately, as GRIII and Walton and Irvin did. These days I don't think John Beilein can walk into a gym without the rest of the country perking their ears up. Since Beilein's going to wait to offer them and other schools aren't, we're in for a number of Devin Booker recruitments where Michigan has been laying groundwork for years but has to fend off guys who got wise a bit later.
The 2014 and 2015 classes will be the acid test. Lock down Booker and grab an elite 2015 big to go with some top 100 wings and it's on at the top of the league; settle for plan Bs and Michigan likely levels off as a contender a half-step behind Indiana, State, OSU, etc.
I think they will get enough of their top targets. Michigan's got stability, facilities, a sexy run to the title game, a fun offense, a reputation for talent development, a burgeoning list of NBA alumni, and a hell of a staff. They don't even start recruiting guys who might need a little help to qualify or want a little something on the side. What's missing? A couple more years of being in the national consciousness, and that's coming.
BiSB: I also think that, to an extent, football and basketball are feeding off each other. Lets not forget that the Commit-a-palooza last year happened during the Michigan/OSU basketball weekend, and IIRC most of the top basketball commits have been spotted at football games. Michigan has some very public swag these days (praise to the Swag Mattison), and there doesn't appear to be a slowdown in the near future.
Forest view, though: Michigan has brought in, what, six ESPN 100 guys in the last two classes? With a couple of five stars? And they are in the hunt for some even bigger names going forward? Beilein Über Ham on Wheat with Mayo.
Junior Offers Out
Kennard and Coleman
Junior day came and went with one offer issued, that to OH SF Luke Kennard, which duh. Kennard isn't on the verge of committing and would like to narrow things down.
“We’re going to have to start narrowing it down some,” said Kennard. “Top 10 or top five, and then see where we go from there.”
Kennard plans to visit each of the schools that make the cut, naming Ohio State, Michigan, Indiana, Butler, and North Carolina first when asked who has the best shot to survive the trim.
Kennard is planning to hit Michigan's team camp at the end of July; M is reputed to be in strong position. Kennard hit up the Elite 100 camp last week and impressed Scout's Brian Snow($):
Luke Kennard, SG – The Ohio native had another excellent event proving to everyone that he is not only a high level shooter, but pretty darn good at everything on the basketball floor. He is more than athletic enough to guard high level wings, and then on offense his IQ separates him from most of his peers. Kennard is still somewhat left hand dominant, but he was able to get by guys going either direction. Add in that he makes plays for himself and others, and Kennard might have been the most complete wing at the entire camp.
A Beilein guy no doubt. Kennard is talking about a decision at the beginning of his junior year, which you'd think favors Michigan. Kennard has gotten around to Indiana, OSU, and Kentucky, though, so it wouldn't be a slam dunk.
IN SG Jalen Coleman wasn't offered over the weekend because he was playing in an AAU tourney and was unreachable, but he got his yesterday. He's not as familiar to Michigan fans as Kennard is. He did tell Scout's Kyle Bogie($) that he is planning some summer visits, "especially Michigan," amongst some other tantalizing things. Coleman will be a knock-out, drag-down fight between various Big Ten programs and potentially Louisville. He's named after Jalen Rose($), so we've got that going for us.
He told Inside The Hall that, like Kennard, he doesn't plan on taking his recruitment out too much longer:
“I don’t think it’s going to be senior year, I doubt if it’d be that late,” he said. “Probably his junior year he’ll be making the decision on what school he’ll be going to because it’s good to get that done, especially being an upperclassman so you can just focus on your team.”
Indiana offered Coleman when he was a freshman and seems like the main competitor.
WI C Diamond Stone has met the visit prerequisite but wasn't offered; Sam Webb says that's because he hasn't sent in his transcript, and once he does that he'll (obviously) get the offer.
I think we're for real
It's still a little boggling to consider that Michigan can go out and snatch a top-ten national recruit who isn't an enormous puppy-man, but the more information we get on 2015 NV C Stephen Zimmerman, the more I think Michigan's in it. His mom is handling a lot of his interviews, and even though this is an interview with a Kentucky site things keep coming back around to the Wolverines($).
I'm curious--who are the schools that he's having these 20 minute conversations with?
That's a loaded question... Coach Payne at Kentucky has and Coach Jordan at Michigan, they've tried to get to know Zimm. Coach Rice at UNLV too, and I think they have a little more knowledge of Zimm because his brother is his high school coach, so I think they have a good relationship. Those are the ones I can think off the top my head.
Zimmerman appears to really enjoy the idea of playing the Mitch McGary role:
Michigan is a popular school with several guards at this camp because of Trey Burke and his success this season, I'm curious, what are your impressions of Michigan and Mitch McGary from this past season?
We were really impressed because Stephen plays with Dream Vision and we ended up playing Mitch's team quite a bit in Stephen's first summer, so Stephen got to watch Mitch and see where he was at this point to where he is after this past season. You can just see that he was a man on that court now instead of the boy we saw just a summer ago on the court. That meant a lot to Stephen to see how he developed during the year.
Has Stephen ever indicated that he's felt like a school has had a similar style of big that he is?
You know, the only one he's mentioned is with Mitch McGary. He'll mention, "hey, we run that play" or, "Ok I see what I did there, I can try that." So that's really the only one I can think of that he's voiced, but I'm sure you know from talking with Stephen that he doesn't say a lot of what he's thinking in his head, so he may not verbalize it until a few days later, he's an observer.
Zimmerman's going to visit a small list of schools and I'd be shocked if Michigan isn't one of them. He just told a Rivals guy that Kentucky and Michigan were the "most aggressive" schools after him.
Meanwhile, in 2014 land
Jordan Barnett, Devin Booker
Uh… nothing's really going on you guys, other than AAU tourney after AAU tourney after AAU tourney.. IN SF Trevon Bluiett is status quo, deciding between Indiana, UCLA, Michigan and fuzzy potential leader Butler. OH combo forward Vincent Edwards is status quo, deciding between Michigan and Purdue. Michigan got CA SF Kameron Chatman on campus and offered; that's the only recent Event aside from a visit from MO SF Jordan Barnett, who could be in line for an offer:
“[Michigan] said they would like to offer me, but coach Beilein said specifically that I couldn’t get an offer from Michigan unless he saw me play,” Barnett said. “Beilein hasn’t seen me. He said if he saw me and he liked what I did, I’d probably get an offer.”
He's looking to commit by the end of the summer; Iowa, Texas, and Florida are his other main suitors.
MS SG Devin Booker still doesn't have a well defined top list and plans to take officials in the fall. Duke and North Carolina are taking themselves out of the running a bit after getting commitments from similar players, so Kentucky looms as the biggest threat:
About [Kentucky] — Booker appears to be quite high on its list of priorities. Booker said he talks with Kentucky coach John Calipari “on a day to day basis.”
“Me and Coach Calipari, we text back and forth, we’ll talk on the phone,” Booker said. “He actually has a good relationship with my mom and dad, he’s been talking to them. So we’re talking about a visit sometime soon. I think right now it’ll be an unofficial. After the summer, I might take an official.”
He told a newspaper basically the same thing.
Booker's in Michigan for the summer with his mom, hopefully hanging out with Drake Harris and enjoying the weather. He plans some sort of cut at the end of the summer followed by some number of official visits.
All of this will be terribly exciting when Michigan smashes Kentucky's recruiting hegemony and spirits away a bunch of top 20 players. August and September promise to have a lot of movement, as it seems everyone mentioned in this post, be they class of 2014 or 2015, is talking about making a decision before their high school seasons kick off.
The great coach smackdown of 2013. Sound Mind, Sound Body—an offseason camp that is set up such that college coaches can go—is too good to be true and will flame out in the near future when sixty other camps imitate it and the NCAA closes the loophole. But for now, we get things like Michigan coaches doing drills right next to Ohio State coaches that can be bothered to show up.
This is the setup for an uncomfortably hilarious moment. Mike Vrabel gets done with his drill segment early, badgers Mattison about finishing his bit when there's still time on the clock before the next rotation, and Mattison Is Not Having That. Via Sam Webb($):
“How about you coach them as hard as you can for as long as you have them?” Mattison yelled back tersely. “YOU GIVE THEM EVERYTHING YOU’VE GOT!!”
Mattison then donned his swag glasses and told Lawrence Marshall "that's why you don't go to Ohio State, Lawrence."
There's a great Greg Robinson story behind that paywall still.
Run, don't walk. Outside of paywall is a terrific article by Mike Rothstein on the basketball program's unique approach to recruiting, in which Michigan offers only after June 15th of a prospect's junior year and maintains a sedulous respect for the process of getting to know kids.
“I’ll throw this at people,” Jordan said. “‘What’s your mom’s name?’ Because there’s a curiosity of why haven’t you offered. ‘How many brothers? How many sisters? What’s your family like? Have you considered the fact that we don’t really know each other, but there is a desire for a scholarship offer?’
“So now it’s like, ‘OK.’ It’s the education.”
It does seem like the Michigan offer is now something that means something, unlike a number of other schools.
There’s another, almost unintentional, byproduct. By having prospects wait for an offer and go through myriad steps, Michigan has created more perceived value around an offer from the school. Instead of just another scholarship offer on a list, it is one the player had to work for.
“To see that they still wanted to offer me, it meant a lot after recruiting me for a year and seeing how well I developed and saw how much potential I had,” Irvin said. “That was really special to me.”
Rothstein noticed that Beilein often goes after kids who are young for their grade—Caris LeVert is a recent prominent example—and got shot down when he asked the coaches about it. So he's on to something there.
Brady Hoke problems. ESPN gives Maurice Ways a fourth star, which means the list of current commits eligible for this site's Sleeper of the Year designation reads:
- Michigan State commits
If I have to I'll open it up to kids who got just one four-star ranking, which opens the door to a whopping three guys at the moment: Ways, Chase Winovich, and Wilton Speight.
ESPN also moved Drake Harris up 25 spots to 71st; the rest of Michigan's commits had insignificant drops of a spot or two.
Sense. And sensibility. And zombies. This bowl news is trickling out so gradually it begins to remind me of the Big Ten's realignment, which was announced weekly for two months. But I think one of the priorities fans had was being able to you know, watch the Big Ten's bowl lineup and Delany has confirmed that is something on the docket:
"I think what you'll see is a truly national slate of bowls," Delany said. "I think you'll see us probably stronger on the West Coast than we've been. You'll see us as strong in Florida as we've been, but probably not as much on New Year's [Day]. I think you'll see us in Texas, and you'll see us with some games in our region, some games on the East Coast. I think it's going to be a great slate. We've made a lot of progress."
Also, the league is about to force bowls to take at least five different teams over the next six years, so no Yet Another Orlando Trip. I'm a little leery of that. The impulse behind the idea is a good one but that threatens to screw with bowl matchups.
Finally, a chorus of angels sounds from above!
"We've been trying to create a model that's more realistic," Delany said. "We'll take fewer, better tickets. If that means the payouts have to come down some, that's OK. Because it makes no sense to overpay on tickets, over-commit and find out you're really subsidizing the bowls, financing your own game."
I'm going on six years of bitching about this. No more. Freedom! (Have I told you how terrible the scholarship model is?).
Could make the West more… nahhh. Tim Beckman picks up Oklahoma State transfer Wes Lunt, who started six games as a true freshman for the Cowboys. Michigan won't see him unless Illinois rotates onto the schedule in 2016, but the addition of a quality quarterback could make the Illini the scariest 4-8 team in college football.
The one time when a coach really could claim to block a player's transfer for their own good, and Gundy doesn't. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ –edsbs
Just once, Illinois, you could try looking at a photograph of the guy you're hiring before doing so. Then you would not hire the people you hire. I challenge anyone to find a picture of Tim Beckmann that does not beg to be captioned "derp" or "hurrrr durrrr" or "is what how can do?"
NOPE NOPE NOPE
Okay guy. It must be brutal to write something for a newspaper in June, but uh.
Freep Guest Column: Alternate jerseys and helmets continue to impress recruits
I don't think it's working. Next time put actual fireworks in the helmets?
Gant move confirmed. Brady Hoke confirmed that Allen Gant was now at SAM, stating thusly:
"He's a rangy guy and he's got length to him," Hoke said last week. "His body has the opportunity to put weight on, the structure and the genetics of the body.
"I think that's the biggest part of it."
If he tops out at 230, think Stevie Brown rather than Jake Ryan.
We missed this, but it's a little explosion-y so let's just do it now. Sam Webb puts out a Da'Shawn Hand article about two seconds after I do a final scan through my RSS feed for the recruiting roundup. Well played.
Most of it is stuff you've heard before about Professor Needs A Raise and how the Michigan staff is his favorite staff. But while I think a version of this quote was in a video somewhere this is the first time it's in text:
"My goal is try to make a decision before December,” Hand reported. “At first I was going to stretch it out, but then after talking with my pop -- we kind of had a heart to heart -- I kind of have to make up my mind. It’s a big decision, but at the same time I kind of have a gist of knowing where I’m going, but I ain’t gonna say that.”
GO LITTLE GUY GO. RUN IN CIRCLES. YES. GO.
Michigan's annual College Practice Camp is this weekend, and is followed shortly by Michigan Offers Juniors Day—the first day coaches are allowed to officially offer scholarships. John Beilein is the only guy in the world who follows this guideline; in doing so he's created a mid-summer event in the deadest portion of the Michigan sports calendar year. For this, John Beilein, we salute you.
Now is a good time to get an overview of what's going on.
Roster And Needs
Assuming Robinson and McGary enter the NBA draft, this is what the roster will look like next fall:
PG: Derrick Walton (So.), Spike Albrecht (Jr.)
SG: Nik Stauskas (Jr.)
SF: Zak Irvin (So.), Caris LeVert (Jr.)
PF: Mark Donnal (So.), Max Bielfeldt (Jr.)
C: John Horford (Sr.), Ricky Doyle (Fr.)
Michigan needs a shooting guard and would like someone to compete with Donnal and Bielfeldt at the four. The other two slots are flexible depending on talent. It is unlikely Michigan uses one on a point guard—they are heavily after a bunch of PGs, but all in the class of 2015—and I would guess Michigan banks one so that 2015 class in which the run to the title game is truly paying off will start from a baseline of two slots.
Shooting guard candidates
Everyone all together now: Devin Booker is the leading candidate. From Missouri, mom lives in Saginaw, blew up at Michigan's camp two summers ago to put himself on the radar, may show up again since he's in Michigan for the summer anyway. Booker now has offers from Every Damn Body U, and though a couple of the truly elite schools have taken kids at his position Michigan State and Kentucky are formidable opposition. Still, Michigan seems to lead.
Michigan is also after Indiana SF Trevon Bluiett, who holds an offer and is being hotly pursued by Indiana, Butler, and plenty of others. Bluiett is having an outstanding AAU season. Michigan was thought to be trailing Butler as of a month or two ago, but Bluiett appears to be in no hurry to make a decision.
Power forward candidates
Michigan trails Duke and others for Wisconsin stretch four Kevon Looney, a top ten player who would be a crazy good fit for Beilein's system. Unfortunately, Duke can point to Ryan Kelly and say "you are also a crazy good fit for our system." Acquiring a visit from him is required before anything serious goes down. Looney did just call Michigan a "great school" in an interview with 247:
"Actually Michigan's been there from the beginning, since my freshman year," he said. "I've been talking to (John) Beilein, coach (LaVall Jordan) ... they're a great school.
"They were in the championship (game) this year. They're a great school."
Looney plans on taking his five officials. Michigan should make the cut.
OH combo forward Vincent Edwards is down to Purdue and Michigan and is waiting around to see which one of them showers him in more rose petals. He's more of a defense-and-rebounding guy than a shooter, but he's good enough at that bit to be around the top 50 most places.
Michigan is emerging on the lists of a number of highly-touted players. The hottest name at the moment is CA SF Kameron Chatman, who's coming up for the camp. Dave Telep says Michigan is a "big player" with Chatman and praises his overall game:
One of my favorite guys on the circuit is small forward Kameron Chatman. There’s something about this kid. Few have his overall feel for the game.
“I hate losing; just mean being an unselfish player with a high IQ,” Chatman said. “I want to do whatever it takes to win. [Whether] that’s scoring or rebounding or getting my teammates going.” When you hear these words, often times they are hollow, but not with this young man. He plays exactly how he speaks.
Beilein guy yo.
Chatman will take an unofficial visit and get an offer this weekend, and while he's not expected to commit flying across the country is a sign of serious interest. Chatman's a consensus top 50 recruit with a loose top three of Michigan, Oregon, and Washington. Distance isn't much of a factor for a kid from Long Beach, then, and neither Washington or Oregon is a Duke-level threat. USC and Arizona are also involved.
Only Horford graduates, though given the way Michigan has been developing point guards Derrick Walton may be the top pick in the draft by then; Zak Irvin is also a threat to leave early. It's tough to project specific positional needs this far out but no matter what Michigan will be looking for at least a big and a point guard.
Offer day is just two weeks away. We'll get a better view then of who the main targets are, but Beilein has a second requirement to get that offer: a visit. Some of the guys on the list haven't made it to campus and thus won't be officially offered.
IN PG/SG Jalen Coleman. Camping, has offers from Indiana and Purdue already, is probably a shooting guard right now, top 50 player:
“North Carolina State and Texas have also been in contact,” Coleman said. “A lot of schools. But also the ones like Michigan State, IU and Purdue have been coming in and staying in contact. Michigan and Michigan State have said they are looking forward to having me up there as soon as possible and doing something, which could be an offer.”
Coleman may not get a June 15th offer as he is probably not a point guard and Michigan may want to see where there roster stands before offering SGs.
IL PG Hyron Edwards.
Also camping, in possession of Purdue, Indiana, and Illinois offers, Edwards is going to play somewhere in the Big Ten. He told IU site Inside The Hall that he's pumped about potentially getting that M offer:
The Illini and Boilermakers have offered and the Wolverines, who won’t offer class of 2015 prospects until June 15, seem to be heading in that direction. He said he hopes to work in an unofficial visit to Bloomington when in town for the adidas May Classic and will be in Ann Arbor on June 1 for Michigan’s elite camp.
“(Assistant) coach (LaVall) Jordan has been talking to me about it,” he said of a potential scholarship offer from Michigan. “If I do get the offer, that would be pretty great.”
CA PG Sedrick Barefield. Barefield has widely varying rankings, from unranked three star to top fifty kid. UConn, KState, Arizona, and Cal are also involved. He needs to get up for a visit before an offer.
FL PG Corey Sanders. Sanders told UMHoops he gets compared to Trey Burke and has a positive relationship with Michigan's coaching staff:
“I love Michigan’s coaching staff. They’re nice, they work with me,” Sanders said. “When we talk, it’s usually like business, how everything will work out, the school, the system, all the players who were there before me — especially with the point guard position how Trey Burke was there. Looking at his game compared to mine and things like that.”
Sanders is less hyped than just about everyone on this list, currently an unranked three star most places.
FL SF Dwayne Bacon. A top 20 kid in the 2015 class, Bacon can't make this weekend's camp but has scheduled an official visit($) for the Central Michigan game. He's a teammate of Sanders and they are talking about being the proverbial package deal.
OH SF Luke Kennard. Kennard, a sweet shooting wing with a wonky Shurna-style release, has been on Michigan's radar longer than anyone else in the 2015 class and has seemed like a good bet to commit at points. These days Ohio State folks are feeling about as confident as the Michigan ones are. Kennard has already been on campus multiple times($) and is almost certain to get a June 15 offer. He plans summer trips($) to Michigan and Ohio State.
TX C Elijah Thomas. Just profiled by Sam Webb in the News, Thomas is an early five star who claims he's "always been a Michigan fan"—we are finally reaching the point where high school kids only remember the Beilein era, self high five—and jokes about his close relationship with LaVall Jordan:
"The relationship is really good," Thomas said. "I call him all the time. I don't call him too much because he has a family (laughter), but I call him every now and then. We talk academics, we talk basketball -- we just talk about why I want to be great and everything else."
OSU, Indiana, and Illinois have already offered and he says distance won't matter; he wants to visit M, Duke, and Kentucky.
WI C Diamond Stone. Stone was on campus for the Michigan State game last fall and as a top ten player in the 2015 class will get offered with prejudice on the 15th. His dad is from Flint, which helps. Everyone on earth will get involved shortly, however. He told the Baltimore Sun that Maryland's entry into the Big Ten is an asset, which says something since they're leaving the ACC.
NV C Stephen Zimmerman.
The third five-star center Michigan's involved with in the 2015 class, Zimmerman told Scout that he planned a trip out to Ann Arbor($) sometime this summer:
Based on Zimmerman’s range of ability, Michigan is one of the schools in consistent contact, spotted courtside over the weekend. Wolverine assistant lavall jordan has continued to build on his strong bond with Zimmerman over the past year, connecting on the phone as recently as Monday evening.
“It was great,” said Zimmerman. “He’s a really great person. I like talking to the people from Michigan. They’re like me. It seems like a great program and they want me to go on an unofficial down there sometime this summer. And I think we’re going to.”
Once that visit happens Zimmerman will become a serious target. The planet is after Zimmerman as well, but Zimmerman's mom dropped a Michigan reference unprompted($) when talking to Duke's scout site:
Post touches is a thing that many people like to talk about when evaluating programs, do you feel like there are programs that have set themselves apart in how they utilize their bigs and post touches they give?
Why are three five-star centers talking up Michigan? Mitch McGary's tournament explosion. I like Mitch McGary.
I'm ignoring this Boston business. Should I have to mention this? Probably not. Rest assured that when the zombie apocalypse comes I'll be here speculating about how it affects Michigan's roster when the starting quarterback bites his center.
Fritz Crisler's advice to Walter. Eat plenty of ruffage, young man.
This is apparently a new find from user Messenger Puppet. The message board sleuths have identified "Walter" as a
missing Brown student Walter Freihofer, who had quite a life. The timing fits: he graduated high school in 1940 and died about a year ago; the letter was probably uncovered as someone was going through his things.
Yes, Wilton. Wilton Speight provides MLive with a picture of him hellaciously stiffarming a hapless fool who dares approach Speight's aura:
That's in an article about Speight's high ranking on ESPN. I was not aware that he'd reclassified after a serious collarbone injury in the first game of his junior season. In general that's a good thing—experience is everything for quarterbacks, who don't approach their ceilings until they're 35.
I should mention that I missed MO LB Kyron Watson in my rundown of Michigan targets in the ESPN 150. He's 100th.
Hated Chad Ford, man, you just don't get it. Hated Chad Ford is mostly a joke about how Chad Ford is all like taking my peoples from me, but come on man:
"His decision to return, considering his age (he turns 21 before the draft) and high draft stock at the moment, is a puzzling one -- I'm not sure his draft stock will ever be higher. A potential first-round pick in 2014."
There are things other than draft stock in life, like being the man on a very good college basketball team.
2014 looms. It appears that Michigan's got a one-year reprieve here from GRIII and McGary. Paste these two items together…
"We're like brothers," McGary said. "Coach says we're joined at the hip, I don't think it's that serious. But (part of my decision relied on) what he was doing.
"We just kind of wanted to come back together, make a run at it and play the way we play."
"It was 50-50," McGary said. "I might have been leaning a little bit toward (leaving at first), but I talked it over with my family, and I thought this was what was best.
"I kind of want to be a kid for one more year."
...and you get both guys planning on leaving after next year. This is fine. It gives Michigan time to replace them. It does mean that the 2014 recruiting class will burgeon to at least 5 players, more if there is a transfer or Stauskas blows up into a lottery pick. Or Spike, I guess.
In any case, Michigan's next basketball recruiting class is huge for the continued program upswing. It currently consists of Florida big man Ricky Doyle and Indiana wing Austin Hatch, if Hatch can get back on the court. That's kind of a big if; it seems likely Michigan signs the guy and puts him on a medical scholarship. They'll probably add four additional players: another post-ish guy who will be around (Michigan will have just Doyle, Donnal, and Bielfeldt in 2015), a couple wings, and then a wild card.
Michigan's caught the eye of Milwaukee five-star Kevon Looney:
In an interview with ChicagoHoops.com earlier this week, Looney listed Michigan as one of a handful of schools firmly on his radar.
Looney, who said his recruitment was still "pretty wide open," also listed Michigan State, Tennessee, Florida, Duke, Georgetown and Wisconsin as schools he's hearing the most from.
At 6'9", Looney is a Kevin Durant-style wing with range.
Putting him at the four in Beilein's system would be almost unfair. Let's hope that "Michigan" coming out of his mouth first means something down the road. One and done? Uh… probably. Don't tell Beilein.
Meanwhile, Sam Webb told his WTKA audience this morning that if Trevon Bluiett and Vincent Edwards were to pick today, they would both be headed elsewhere. (I'd guess those destinations would be Butler and Purdue.) That wasn't a lock or anything, but just a feeling from a connected guy. They seem to be leading for Devin Booker despite heavy attention from powers, but Booker isn't rushing towards a decision.
Michigan's going to see their options expand; this AAU circuit will see a half-dozen new prospects on the radar. The three guys mentioned in the previous paragraph are their only current offerees right now. That'll change in the next few months. UMHoops has some additional information on who they might offer.
While Beilein wasn't gung-ho about the possibility after Trey's departure…
"I don’t think we’re in a position where we have to use (Trey’s scholarship)," Beilein said. "But if there’s the right situation – last year Caris was more of a redshirt, was going to be."
…they could take a swing at a 2013 kid if one they like pops up. They've got two scholarships available. Assuming GRIII and McGary are gone after this year, if you can get a guy who you think you can be a four-year contributor more along the lines of Caris LeVert than Colton Christian that's a move you may want to make. There's a shaky rumor about Michigan reaching out to former Hofstra commitment Gabe Levin, so they're poking around a bit.
Okay, not just me. I was wondering if what I saw from Delonte Hollowell in the spring game was a hallucination or wishful thinking. Apparently not:
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison indicated there's more to it than that -- that Hollowell had a terrific spring, and could force his way into the rotation come fall.
“I think you probably thought it was rhetoric when we first got here and you heard me say it before -- you’re evaluated every day in practice," Mattison said when asked about Hollowell's start. "The thing that Brady (Hoke) does such a good job of is that we have competitions in practice. Competition means it’s a game.
"How you react in that competition is going to decide who’s going to earn the right to play the next day and be where they are the next day in the depth chart. So that depth chart can change day to day."
Hollowell played in 11 games last season, but mostly on special teams. He played in three games as a reserve defensive back, recording one tackle.
I brought this up on 'TKA yesterday tentatively and got the same vibe from Sam. While Hollowell isn't going to start over Taylor or Countess, hopefully they'll be comfortable enough to put a third cornerback on the field this fall if someone goes down. Now someone get him tweeting again.
Amara to the rescue. Another guy pushing his way up the depth chart is a key one for Michigan's next couple years, what with the receiver depth looking shaky. He's Amara Darboh:
"I knew Darboh was going to catch the ball," Gardner said. "We knew what was going to happen. We were planning to call that play (the day before the game), and Coach Borges just said get it up and give him a chance.
"That's what I did. He performed." …
"He can do everything well," Gardner said. "He can shake guys in the short-range game, and he can go deep."
That bomb was quality: Darboh got a release that gave him space to the outside and adjusted to a less than perfect ball comfortably. That takes skill.
We're Texas. That means our administrators specialize in sounding like twits. Multi-year scholarships are now legal, but the baton is being picked up slowly despite those press conferences in the immediate aftermath of that rule's passage where every coach in the country said they would offer four-year rides. Full numbers are hidden behind a paywall, but the Chronicle of Higher Ed reports that multi-year deals are rare:
Nearly two-thirds of the 56 most powerful Division I public universities now offer multiyear awards, according to a Chronicle review of public records. Yet few of those institutions do so for more than a handful of athletes.
Among the holdouts are some of the wealthiest programs, including the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Oregon, and Texas A&M. At the University of Arizona, Georgia Tech, and the University of Louisville, this year's NCAA men's basketball champions, you can count the multiyear beneficiaries on one hand.
Here's the bit where someone from Texas sounds like a twit:
"Who gets a four-year, $120K deal guaranteed at age 17?" Christine A. Plonsky, women's athletic director at the University of Texas, wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle. "The last thing young people need right now is more entitlement."
This is an athletic department that has an entirely separate athletic director for their womens' teams talking about how young people are entitled. I wish I had a magic poverty wand I could wave at people.
Christine A. Plonsky finds herself in the kitchen of Taco Bell. She somehow knows her car is now a 1979 Yugo, her home a double-wide, her husband a machinist. She still makes more than 30k a damn year.
Sing to me, o fate, a tale of entitlement—
Shut up and make me 12 soft tacos.
Anyway. John Infante argues that this sort of inconsistent application of the new multi-year rule is actually a good thing. First, a few numbers he pulled out:
But even colleges that have moved toward the longer agreements have done so modestly. Six institutions signed at least two dozen multiyear agreements this academic year. They include the University of Florida (60), Ohio State University (47), North Carolina State University (40), Michigan State University (30), Arizona State University (27), and Auburn University (27).
But multiyear awards still account for less than one-tenth of all athletic scholarships at most of those institutions.
IIRC OSU and MSU were amongst the schools that promised all of their football folks would be on multi-year scholarships, which clearly isn't happening. Meanwhile, Michigan doesn't even appear on this list of moderate adopters. On the other hand, Infante mentions that Illinois is giving out multi-year deals to virtually everybody.
Recruits are beginning to understand their power in the negotiation as well as the tools they can use to get the best deal. Hopefully as the market in recruiting and athletic scholarships continues to mature, more recruits and schools will understand their bargaining positions. This encourages the best situation for athletes: when the agreement they sign is the same one that both they and their coach intend and understand.
Contrast this with setting scholarships at any one length. Under the old one-year maximum, coaches were flat out lying to prospects and their families. They would say that a one-year agreement was really for four years, and that as long as the athlete stayed eligible and out of trouble, the scholarship would be renewed. Then when the athlete was injured or did not live up to expectations, the grant-in-aid would be nonrenewed.
Requiring four- or five-year scholarships creates a similar situation. The coach assures the athlete that they have a four-year agreement, because look, there it is in a written contract. Then when the athlete does not pan out, the coach begins looking for ways to get out from under the commitment. That leads to deliberately confusing scholarship agreements and team/department rules which are inconsistently enforced.
As long as the guarantee remains in place—and the roster spot occupied—even when a guy is booted, that's about all they can do. But it'll be interesting to see if recruiting reporters start asking kids about the details of their "offers." Is Illinois explicitly using a longer-term promise as an incentive? Is, say, Western Michigan guaranteeing four-star commit Chance Stewart four years, and is that why he's headed for the MAC instead of the Illini? Shouldn't Da'Shawn Hand demand any school he signs with guarantee him four years?
It feels like a lot of stakeholders in the recruiting game are trying to downplay the existence of the multi-year rule. That can't last, and then things get interesting.
Kickstarter, eh! After many requests we have added a couple of kickstarter tiers for international folks: 20 bucks for one mag, 40 for both, and we'll eat the extra costs for anyone who goes for the 50+ tiers.
Reminder: we have made our base goal and are now shooting for the 50k stretch goal, whereupon the basketball/hockey preview mag is a real thing on paper.
Meanwhile if you're in the giving mood check out Marlin Jackson's Fight For Life charity. Very good cause. Seth posted extensively on what they do this morning.
Our linemen are a wonderful freak show. They're all having huge lumberjack beards and looking like Freddie Mercury and, uh, this:
That's walk-on Dan Gibbs's twitter avatar. We probably should have started him against Jesse Williams, who Gibbs is seen riding. Equal to the task is Gibbs's twitter avatar: DJBunyan.
Speaking of offensive linemen, Elliott Mealer has shaved the beard.
as if millions of follicles suddenly cried out in terror
We will always remember you, ZZ Top beard.
This year's OL has a lot to live up to. They are off to a good start, at least.
Michigan has a five star basketball recruit for the second straight year. (isportsweb)
It's too bad he can't compete with the big boys. Rivals has given Zak Irvin the GRIII bump, moving up ten spots after his Mr. Basketball season in Indiana. This nets him the coveted fifth star. Walton is #37—also a ten-spot bump—while Mark Donnal is #111, one of the last four-stars. IIRC Donnal was just inside the top 100 last time. He got one of those "you stay the same and we find twelve guys we like a lot" downgrades.
Indiana's six-person oversigning extravaganza is the best class in the Big Ten according to the sites. Michigan is second, #13 nationally at ESPN. Illinois and Wisconsin are next, but it's always hard to figure out how to rank basketball classes because they're so divergent in terms of numbers.
Speaking of Tom Crean…
You're Nick Saban, dude. A year after Indiana signee Ron Patterson was told he couldn't enroll at Indiana in August—ie, the Les Miles—Tom Crean signs six players and is oversigned by one going into the late signing period. Out you go, Remy Abell. Indiana currently has 13 players. They've just offered Jaren Sina, the former Northwestern commit who opened up his recruitment when Bill Carmody was fired.
Now is the time on Sprockets when brows are furrowed about young men and how it's disappointing they've left the program and etc. etc. etc. It's not disappointing, it is mathematically required by Coach Schrute's recruiting. Someone was going to leave, full stop. There's no difference between what's going down at Indiana and Nick Saban's annual purge. In this, OSU and Michigan fans are united.
The thing is: Crean's just flat out saying they're oversigning, which is at least more honest than Saban's approach.
Again, this was not unexpected, and IU coach Tom Crean admitted as much when he spoke with assembled media in Bloomington, Ind., Thursday afternoon. He knew he might have two guys leaving early, in addition to three seniors (Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford, Derek Elston) which is, Crean told the Indianapolis Star, "one of the reasons we oversigned."
Wait ... what?
Yes, the Hoosiers enter the second straight summer with more players signed than scholarships to give out — this time 14 for 13. (Last season, IU's 15 signed players ended with senior guard Matt Roth's seemingly confused, thensuddenly uber-positive, departure, and a fortuitous turn in freshman Ron Patterson's academic ineligibility.)
Even without further departures Michigan will go into next year with an open scholarship. Purdue's down to ten. Schrute is looking for more guys to run off. Hard to have the moral high ground as a conference when you… uh… don't have it.
Godspeed, Tom Hammond. The Great and Powerful Hammond is being replaced by some guy named Hicks on Notre Dame broadcasts. A tip of the cap to a man who overcame his fear of cameras to be on television, like, all the time. We'll always have the picture and the tie.
See you around the rhythmic gymnastics odeon. /brohug
Baseball making it happen. Rich Maloney's ouster last year was sudden and controversial. So far it looks to have been the right move as the previously moribund base-to-ball team is currently 7-2 in the Big Ten behind freshman starting pitcher Evan Hill's dominating 1.89 ERA. Baseball America takes note:
The future looks bright for Michigan, which has a strong freshman core leading its resurgence this spring. Michigan’s best starter has been freshman lefthander Evan Hill (6-1, 1.89), whose projectable 6-foot-5 frame helped him rank No. 165 on the BA 500 heading into last year’s draft. Hill still is just scratching the surface of his potential, but he is maturing quickly and has settled nicely into the Saturday starter role.
“He still is a projection guy—his best years are ahead of him,” Bakich said. “But he’s very talented, he works extremely hard. The mental game has been critical for him, because he’s learned how to breathe and focus on executing the next pitch, that’s been a big part of his development mentally. But he’s still a long, lean, tall, thin guy who has a good fastball, and he’s got good offspeed pitches. He just doesn’t always have the command that he’s going to have in the future of his secondary stuff. But a lot of his success has come from pitching off his fastball. He throws a cutter and a curveball, and when those are on, he usually does pretty well.”
Two other freshmen have earned starting jobs on the left side of the infield and in the top half of the batting order. Travis Maezes (.308/.396/.421) has shown good athleticism, instincts and arm strength at shortstop while hitting in the No. 2 hole. And third baseman Jacob Cronenworth (.339/.397/.460 with two homers and a team-leading 26 RBIs) has been very steady in the cleanup spot. He has a balanced, line-drive approach from the left side of the plate to go along with good speed. Cronenworth also has a strong arm at the hot corner, and he can run his fastball up to 92 mph off the mound, where he has emerged as Michigan’s closer, posting a 1.06 ERA, six saves and a 16-3 strikeout-walk mark in 17 innings.
That's a hell of a freshman class.
Michigan's coming off consecutive sweeps of MSU and Penn State; they take on ND today at 4, with Eastern coming in tomorrow at 6. If you're in Chicago, Michigan plays Northwestern at Wrigley Saturday.
It was a bet with Zak Irvin. A picture of a displeased Gary Harris wearing a Maize Rage t-shirt made the rounds on twitter recently, and I was all like "dude lost a bet with Zak Irvin?"
M&GB: Can you tell us about that picture of Gary Harris that surfaced on twitter of him wearing a Maize Rage t-shirt?
Irvin: (Laughs) As a matter of fact I was just talking with him about that a couple hours ago but that was from last year. When Michigan played Michigan State we had a bet that whichever team won, the loser had to wear that team’s shirt to school the next day, and Michigan won so Gary had to wear a Michigan t-shirt all the next day.
Just not a recent one.
Not playing coy about Dymonte Thomas. Courtney Avery's job is officially in serious danger given the way Michigan usually talks about freshmen. No one's bothering to say Dymonte Thomas is a long way off or whatever:
"He’s a very conscientious young man. For a guy that comes that should have been at his prom to be here the whole time, and for him to pick it up like he did ... Dymonte Thomas had a very, very good spring for a freshman.”
So there's that. He's playing. Starting? We'll see.
Cumong, NCAA man. Oregon and the NCAA agree that Oregon paid Willie Lyles 25k to help recruit players. Also this:
There is no information," according to the NCAA, "in the record that Lyles coerced or directed any prospect to ultimately choose Oregon. That said, Lyles did provide a meaningful recruiting advantage by orally providing background information about prospects to the coaching staff and also by serving as a conduit to facilitate communication with prospective student-athletes."
I hate you, NCAA enforcement. Oregon has proposed two years of probation and one lost scholarship for a few years. Seriously. Sic 'em, Get The Picture.
Etc.: A tribute to Trey Burke. His finest moments. Oh yes "Roger Federer as a Religious Experience" reference in regards to Trey Burke, oh yes. HSR on the end of basketball season.
UMHoops talks to 2015 SG recruit Luke Kennard. MSU is selling spots in the press box for their spring game. How much? Next question. The definition of amateurism is "whatever the NCAA says it is," and changes constantly. Four(!) Michigan players make John Gasaway's final top 25 freshmen($), with Spike Albrecht making the tail end of the list at 25. That's for show, man. David Allen Grier gets Trey Burke to smile. It is possible. Drake Harris "commitment" scarequotes are unbecoming.