to play football, not to play trumpet
Michigan's first offer recipient for 2017 became their first commitment in the class this evening when four-star Milwaukee (WI) Rufus King shooting guard Jordan Poole picked Michigan in a ceremony at his school.
4*, #19 SG,
|4*, 87, #16 PG||
4*, 92, #16 SG,
4*, #21 SG,
Poole is generally regarded as a top-100 prospect; he's just a couple spots outside ESPN's early top 60 and otherwise makes all the services' top x lists. There's some disparity on his size; Rivals and 247 list him at 6'4" and 180-185 pounds; Scout at 6'3", 175; and ESPN is the outlier at 6'1", 160, which seems quite outdated.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: Poole was a big riser during the latest evaluation period, resulting in a number of big-time offers, including Illinois, Indiana, Marquette, and Michigan. As a sharpshooting combo guard who's developing as a ballhandler, he earned a very intriguing comparison from Scout's Derek Piper ($):
Poole was at his best at the NY2LA Summer Jam in Mequon, Wis. a few weeks ago. He showcased his loaded arsenal at the offensive end, which includes a pure outside stroke, effortless handles and superb court vision. Even playing up at the 17U level, Poole put opposing defenses to the test with everything he brings to the floor.
There’s a reason he has earned the nicknames of “Splash” and “Baby Steph”. Poole operates with a natural smoothness to his game, and his range extends far beyond the three-point line. Poole can splash NBA-range triples with ease and his overall skill set continues to grow. Even taking the role as a facilitator at times, Poole was extremely impressive.
ESPN's evaluation finishes with the very same comparison ($):
Poole is a rangy 2-guard prospect that can knock in jump shots out to 23-feet. He has a smooth effortless release and he understands how to square himself up for the shot. His shot is deadly off the catch and he oozes confidence. His ball skills are coming around and his step-back dribble and crossover are getting tighter. In addition, he is a quality passer and understands angles while feeding the post. He has a decent 1st step and has the ability to utilize the "step through dribble" while tossing in the occasional runner.
Poole is wiry and he'll need to get considerably stronger to withstand physical defenders. He needs to improve his triple threat game, especially his 1st step. In addition, he needs to get more explosive and stronger while trying to finish through contact. His ball handling is solid, but that is another area that needs polishing.
Poole has a ways to go before he fills out, but his skill set reminds us of a high school version of Steph Curry.
Now that we all need a cold shower at the thought of a Steph Curry in a John Beilein offense, it's worth noting Curry made huge strides in his shot release, ballhandling, and defense when he got to the NBA. But still. This would be very nice.
247's Andrew Slater has a very detailed, free scouting report from Poole's performance at June's Nike Elite 100 camp (I added paragraph breaks for readability and bolded a few things for emphaiss):
Poole is an excellent three-point shooter, both off of the catch and dribble, but is slightly better off of the catch and from the right-hand side of the arc. The Milwaukee native has a very release, excellent form, and deep range on his shot. While he can penetrate, he seems to prefer to pull up. Although he doesn't have a mature body, at this venue, Poole was able to withstand contact on penetration. He will need to add muscle.
Even though the strength of his game is as a deep knock-down shooter with a good crossover, the right-hander also demonstrated good court vision in transition and off of penetration. The Wisconsin Playground guard needs to be able to finish better with his left hand. While he often created his own shot off of the dribble, he will need to strengthen this area of his game. Poole seems to be a better off-the-ball defender who uses his relatively high basketball IQ to generate steals off of errant or well-telegraphed passes.
At 6'2", Poole, who has average athleticism, has good size for a combo, but will be slightly undersized for a high-major two guard, but doesn't look like he's done growing. While he showed an ability to hit the mid-range shots in drills, he almost exclusively either pulled up from deep beyond the arc or opted to attempt to attack the rim. Poole seemed to demonstrate relatively good leadership ability.
At the same event, Poole also caught the attention of Scout's Brian Snow:
Jordan Poole was definitely one of the breakout players at the camp. The Milwaukee native absolutely lit up the nets from deep with his jumper. When given time and space he was one of the most consistent shooters all weekend, and then he also showed some aptitude for being able to play the point. Running a team is still a work in progress, but he has decent floor vision and can really stretch the court, especially off of ball screens.
Depending on how he hones his ability to run an offense and defend quicker guards, Poole could end up at the one or the two at Michigan; for now, it looks like he'll be a floor-stretching shooting guard who can slide over and play the one in a pinch.
Poole holds offers from Auburn, Bradley, Drake, UW-Green Bay, Illinois, Indiana, Marquette, Memphis, UW-Milwaukee, Nebraska, and Virginia Tech, among a few others. All of the high-major offers came in after the most recent evaluation period.
According to MaxPreps, Poole averaged 14.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists against 1.7 turnovers, and 1.8 steals per game as a sophomore while posting impressive 50/40/80 (2P%/3P%/FT%) shooting splits.
Shorter sophomore highlights:
Poole's breakout performance at the NY2LA Summer Jam:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Poole looks like an ideal fit at the two in John Beilein's system due to his shooting ability and range. He also has a relatively quick path to playing time; when he arrives in 2017, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman will be the only combo guard type on the roster, and Rahk will be a senior that season. By 2018-19, Poole should be starting alongside 2016 point guard Xavier Simpson.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is technically full on scholarships for 2017-18, but there will inevitably be attrition between now and then. Four-star IN F Jaren Jackson is the other offer recipient so far in the 2017 class and should get a great deal of attention from the coaching staff.
Buckle Up: Jordan Poole Announces Friday
Michigan waited longer than most programs to hand out offers to 2017 basketball prospects, but their selectiveness may help them land a commitment—and very soon, at that. Four-star WI SG Jordan Poole picked up his offer when he first visited campus for the BYU game; at the time he told The Wolverine's Chris Balas that the distinction of being M's first offer recipient in the class wasn't lost on him ($):
"I thought it was great," he said. "I really didn't know they hadn't offered anyone else until I got there. It shows they look for certain people and qualities as far as basketball and personality.
"For me to be the first …. Coach Beilein doesn't just give out offers. Some schools give out offer after offer. Coach Beilein really takes the time thinking about the right fit, if a kid really likes school and is thinking about going there. Being the first in the 2017 class is amazing."
Poole visited campus again last weekend; he told Scout's Brian Snow it was a "great" trip ($). Yesterday, he set his announcement:
Four-star 2017 SG Jordan Poole will announce his decision Friday at 5:30 CT at his school https://t.co/NMMKxikYOX
— Brian Snow (@BSnowScout) October 20, 2015
All signs point to Michigan. Poole would be a nice pickup; he's the #92 overall player in the 247 Composite and holds offers from the likes of Auburn, Illinois, Indiana, and Marquette.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
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.]