a terrible blight on our fine country
Home Shutouts Of Ranked Teams: Good For Recruiting
Well, that was a pretty good weekend to host the nation's top-ranked prospect for an official visit. While five-star NJ DT Rashan Gary hasn't spoken with reporters yet, 247's Steve Lorenz is hearing some very positive news emerging from a source in the know ($):
Heard from what I'd call a solid source that the two schools Gary has been highest on throughout the process are the two schools that most have connected him with: Michigan and Auburn. We were also told today that those around him would prefer that he go to Michigan. That's not necessarily including Mom, who we're told legitimately wants him to make his own decision.
We'll see what he says on the record; it looks like Michigan has positioned themselves about as well as they could heading into Gary's next four officials. If you tune in to MGoRadio this evening (5-7 pm, 1050 WTKA), Steve will be on to talk about Gary's visit and more on recruiting.
And, just as I'm about to hit publish, 247's Steve Wiltfong publishes an article in which he caught with Gary's mother, who accompanied him on the visit ($):
“I think he came out of it with a great experience,” Coney said. “When we got back to the airport in Detroit everyone had on Michigan gear, and even when we landed in Newark, he saw all the people wearing Michigan gear, and everyone knew Rashan and he was a big deal in the airport and big deal on the plane, and I think he saw a Michigan degree does travel and it is substantial.”
Oh, and then Wiltfong put in a Crystal Ball selection for Michigan. Being good is good, as it turns out.
A topic that'll surely come up is last weekend's other uncommitted official visitor, four-star CO DE/OLB Carlo Kemp, whose quotes to 247's Steve Wiltfong were to say the least quite promising ($):
“Yeah honestly [Michigan's lead has grown],” he said. “I’ve fallen in love with anything Michigan and Maize and Blue. Just like I did when I was up there the first time I had another good experience.”
The hold up on a possible commitment?
“I just want to make sure I’m ready,” Kemp said. “I really want to go out and see Notre Dame again. I’m going out there in two weeks. After I see that I think I’ll have a better understanding of where I belong the next four years.”
Kemp would fill a huge need at the BUCK position, which Mario Ojemudia currently occupies; he'd have a good shot at seeing the field right away with only Lawrence Marshall set to return at the position in 2016.
Speaking of potential commitments, The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan caught up with 2017 GA RB Kurt Taylor, who compared last weekend's unofficial visit favorably with the Georgia-South Carolina game he took in the previous week—"The Michigan game was just... 'more.' It was more exciting, more fans, the atmosphere was better at Michigan, it was just 'more.'"—and hinted strongly that he'll be in the fold before too long ($):
"I'll make my decision after this year, after my junior year," he said. "I will definitely know where I want to go by then. After yesterday, I think I know already. It was a lot to like there."
That could be music to the ears of Michigan fans.
Finally, 2017 IN WR Mac Hippenhammer told TMI's Brice Marich his visit was "great" and noted Amara Darboh's catch was "nasty," which, agreed ($).
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
2016 Lima (OH) point guard Xavier Simpson became the fourth member of Michigan's 2016 class yesterday. The day started with what appeared to be concerning news when in-state point guard target Cassius Winston announced that after initially pushing back his planned official visit, Michigan was no longer an option for him. With Simpson looking all set to commit to Wisconsin yesterday afternoon, this didn't look great for the Wolverines, and memories of the Battle/Langford saga had fans concerned.
That concern was unfounded. As it turns out, on his way back from visiting Wisconsin last weekend, Simpson made a pit stop in Ann Arbor.
For those thinking this came out of nowhere, it did not. Simpson visited michigan Sunday afternoon/evening.
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) September 9, 2015
Been wrapped up for a few days now
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) September 9, 2015
Michigan had a chance to lock up a top-100 prospect at a position of need. In doing so, they pulled the rug out from Wisconsin, but I'm sure since this is John Beilein we're talking about here their fans reacted in a totally reasonable fashion.
Or the total opposite. This is without a doubt funnier than anything that dude has posted on his Bo Ryan parody account.
[Hit THE JUMP for the informative portion.]
So the Cassius Winston situation cleared up in a hurry.
As it turns out, Michigan had a top-100 prospect ready to commit, and 2016 Lima (OH) point guard Xavier Simpson did just that this afternoon after a late push by the Wolverines. Simpson originally planned to choose today between finalists Illinois, Iowa State, Miami, and Wisconsin. Increased attention from Michigan's staff in the wake of Winston's shifting visit plans changed the outlook entirely.
Simpson is the fourth commit in the 2016 class, joining wing Ibi Watson and big men Jon Teske and Austin Davis.
4*, #12 PG,
|4*, #87 Ovr||
4*, 84, #12 PG,
3*, 92, #13 PG,
4*, #13 PG,
The four services are in general agreement on Simpson, all listing him in the bottom half of the top 100 overall prospects. He's the #12 or #13 point guard prospect in the country on the sites that bother with positional rankings; Rivals, for some reason, not only fails to do those but lists players only at G, F, or C unless you click on all their profiles.
Simpson is diminutive. He's listed at 5'11 and 165-170 pounds on three of the four sites; Scout has him at 5'10, 155.
Here's Scout's free evaluation:
EvaluationSimpson isn't the most physically gifted player in the class, but he is one of the most effective. Standing only 5-foot-11 he shows absolutely no fear on the basketball court and has set his team up for a lot of wins during his high school and AAU careers. He needs to continue to refine his jumper, but his leadership and ability to run a team make him an in demand prospect.
- Basketball IQ
- Big-Game Player
Areas to Improve
- 3-Point Range
I'll have much more on Simpson tomorrow in an updated post. Football duties beckon for now.
Winston Narrows List, Stops By A2
John Beilein's top recruiting priority is to land a quality point guard in the 2016 class and U-D Jesuit four-star Cassius Winston has been the number one target on the board for a while. Michigan got a couple encouraging developments on that front this week when Winston cut down his list and then dropped by Ann Arbor for an unofficial, per The Wolverine's Chris Balas ($):
Winston trimmed his list to four recently, striking Harvard from his list and leaving Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford and Pitt. Most believe it's a U-M vs. MSU battle, and Winston added some intrigue when he visited Ann Arbor again Aug. 16.
"He loves everything Michigan has to offer, loves the basketball," his dad said. "He really likes the academics, too."
Winston is slated to take an official visit on September 19th; he's already taken one to Stanford and is supposed to see MSU the week prior, giving M the last crack unless he adds other visits to the schedule. His father told MLive he's getting a little tired of the recruiting process and would like to make a final decision before his senior season begins. This looks like an in-state battle and the Wolverines may have a slight edge right now.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
After Tyus Battle took the last available scholarship in the 2016 class only to decommit and cause Michigan to lose out on fellow five-star wing Josh Langford, it looked like John Beilein's strict adherence to not oversigning—even in the attrition-heavy environment of major conference college hoops—cost Michigan their shot at an elite wing, especially after they accepted the commitment of three-star Ibi Watson last week.
Sam Webb hinted in the wake of Watson commitment that was not, in fact, the case. When Webb broke the news that five-star wing Miles Bridges, a Flint native who plays for Huntington (WV) Prep, would visit on Monday, the picture became clear: Michigan is changing their recruiting tack and they're not done recruiting wings.
Michigan had been the only school in Bridges' top five not to offer him, since he hadn't taken a visit to Ann Arbor yet. That changed following Monday's visit, according to Webb. While Kentucky and Michigan State are the favorites to land Bridges, there's reason for optimism. Bridges is AAU teammates with top point guard target Cassius Winston, and they've mentioned a desire to play together in college. [Insert caveat about package deals here.]
This is a significant shift for Michigan, as it'd mark a change in Beilein's willingness to project attrition when recruiting. The Wolverines need a point guard in this class; it's expected commit Austin Davis will take a prep year and reclassify to 2017 to make room for one. There isn't an obvious way to make room for one more, but Beilein isn't exactly at risk of going Full Crean (never go Full Crean); with the logjam at the three and the four, plus the potential for a Zak Irvin breakout year, it'd be a surprise if every eligible member of this year's team was back in 2016-17.
It's a lesson learned the hard way, but it looks like Beilein took note of what happened with Battle and is making the requisite adjustments to his recruiting strategy.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
John Beilein landed his third commit of the 2016 class this afternoon when Pickerington (OH) Central swingman Ibi Watson tweeted his decision to join the program. Watson blew up during the latest evaluation period, earning offers from Indiana and Michigan in the process. He joins big men Jon Teske and Austin Davis in the class.
|3* SF||NR SG||3*, 79, #41 SG||
3*, 87, #41 SG,
3*, #39 SG,
Watson is a low three-star or unranked on the recruiting services, though we'll see if that holds up when the rankings are updated to reflect his spring and summer performances; as you'll see, he's been very good of late.
Rivals, ESPN, and 247 all list Watson at 6'4", 180 pounds. Scout has him an inch taller and ten pounds lighter. He's got the look of a two-guard who could play the three if he fills out.
There was pretty much nothing out there on Watson until the spring. The only report I can find on him from before the most recent evaluation period is at Land Grant Holy Land. They caught him last spring's Spiece Run-n-Slam, where he made a sigificant impact off the bench:
On a team full of superstars, Athens sophomore wing guard Ibi Watson can fly under the radar with King James Shooting Stars. After an impressive showing all weekend long in Fort Wayne, Watson should not be overlooked much longer. Averaging 7.8 points per game for the tournament (second on the team), all while coming off the bench, Watson showed an increased ability to finish strongly at the rim, while also continuing to be a confident perimeter shooter.
One thing about Watson's game that I was consistently impressed with was the 6-foot-4 guard's increased athleticism and decision-making. King James' highest IQ wing, Watson rarely turned the ball over, while refusing to settle for low-percentage shots. Helping lead the King James rally late in Sunday's championship game, Watson made several key plays on both ends of the floor, showing the confidence that King James' coaching staff has in the rising-junior combo-guard.
This May, Watson led the All Ohio Red AAU squad to a tournament win in the All-Ohio Nike Super 16 with a 41-point onslaught in the title game. As he garnered increased recruiting attention, he stood out at Michigan's College Practice Camp, per Dylan from UMHoops:
The Pickerington native had a great camp. He’s a smooth and explosive wing who plays for All-Ohio Red and was part of the reason that John Beilein gave out a shout out to the Columbus players in attendance. Watson can hit the triple or attack off the bounce and played well throughout the camp.
Watson earned MVP honors at the Best of the South tournament in June over his more heralded teammates, per HoopSeen:
Ibi Watson, 2016 SG, All-Ohio Red: From Wednesday to Sunday, Watson may have been the most consistent player throughout the entire tournament, ending in him being awarded the 17U MVP. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard was a threat from behind the three-point line with his shooting ability, but he showed spurts of his sneaky athleticism with some plays at the rim. He consistently hit shots and made smart plays for his teammates. Watson’s MVP award speaks volumes about his play over the course of the week, as he plays alongside Michigan State commit Nick Ward and Dayton commit Trey Landers.
He was also All-Ohio Red's top performer at the NY2LA Sports Summer Jam, where they took home the tournament title:
Watson lifted All-Ohio Red to the 17U finals with an 18-point performance during a semifinal win over Playground Elite. Watson was also instrumental in the title game victory over Boise Hoop Dreams. Scoring 12 points, Watson also turned the game with a couple of back-breaking baskets to end scoring droughts and put a stop to two large Boise Hoop Dream runs. Watson was also active defensively, blocking and altering shots and getting on the glass.
As the EYBL season got under way recently, Watson continued to pick up steam while playing in front of coaches from Michigan and Indiana, per Rivals' Sean Williams ($):
Wisconsin Playground Elite controlled much of the first half and held a 28-22 lead at the half, but that's when All-Ohio Red came storming back with the help of shooting guard Ibi Watson, who dropped 17 points as his team lit up the second half and secured a 69-58 victory.
The 6-foot-4 Watson showed off his full arsenal of talents by dropping three 3-point field goals, driving to the basket and creating, being active on the glass, and using his length to be a disruptor on defense by blocking a couple of shots and forcing a couple of steals.
Watson is a shooter first and foremost, but he's shown recently that he can contribute in several facets of the game.
Watson holds offers from Akron, Dayton, Indiana, UMass, Miami (OH), Ohio, Toledo, and Western Kentucky. Before anyone complains about that offer sheet, consider last under-the-radar Pickerington Central prospect to make his way to Michigan: Caris LeVert.
Junior highlights are at the top of the post. Here's that 41-point title game performance:
And here's a single-game reel from a matchup against four-star wing Seth Towns:
Dude can shoot.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
With Caris LeVert gone after this upcoming season, Watson is in line to see some early playing time if he's ready; when he gets to campus in 2016, Zak Irvin, Aubrey Dawkins, and MAAR will be the only true wings on the squad, and that's assuming Irvin is back. If Watson doesn't crack the rotation as a freshman, he should as a sophomore after Irvin graduates.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is technically full for the 2016 class but they're not finished recruiting. Point guard has been a priority from the beginning, with four-star in-stater Cassius Winston—whose recruitment should come down to M and MSU—as the top target on the board. If attrition doesn't create room for a point guard, there's a possibility Austin Davis reclassifies to the 2017 class.