“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
Just a few days after getting 2014 commit #2, Maria Backman, the Michigan women's basketball program today received their first 2016 verbal, Akienreh Johnson, a 6-0 guard/wing out of Toledo Rogers High School. This is a big commitment as one of the top women's hoops recruiting services, ASGR, has her ranked #34 in the country in her class.
I'll do some more digging, but so far here's the best scouting report I could find on her, posted by Full Court in January 2013:
Akienreh Johnson, 6-0 small forward, Rogers (Toledo OH)
Although just a freshman, Johnson had college coaches focused on her from pretty early in her team’s 55-48 loss to Winton Woods of Cincinnati. She possesses a lanky athletic build not yet fully filled out, but her skill set is already high, showing intermediate range jumpers and threes. The line from high major programs will be queuing up for one of the top 2016 prospects in Ohio.
I think it's safe to say that Kim Barnes Arico and her staff are really beginning to gain traction on the recruiting trail.
EDIT: Here's another scouting report, posted by Blue Star last summer:
Toledo Rogers High School has made plenty of waves with their youth the last few seasons and another promising guard is joining the cause. Akienreh Johnson is the kind of player that’s going to make something happen with the ball in her hands. She’s impressive in her individual attack but equally adept at delivering the ball if someone else has a better look. A quick first step goes hand in hand with some sharp ballhandling getting her past defenders and opening up her options. The fact that she already stands 5-10 makes her all the more difficult to match up with and just that much more intriguing to recruiters.
Toledo Blade photo:
I mean I need to talk about this with somebody...
I saw this on the notebook of umhoops and really don't know how this hasn't been posted. It'll be a bit dusty in here after reading this story.
Anyway, the story is about our new Director of Basketball Operations and his family's experience over the last year and a half. You need to read all of this so I'm not even going to bother quoting it.
Trey Burke appeared on Grantland with Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons to do a full NBA job interview:
Title says it all. Good pub for [redacted] Blue!
Mod edit: Added a link and changed the typo in the title. Also took a certain word modifying "Blue" out of the OP, since that's been good for like ten comments already. JGB.
Last month, as I reported on the women's hoops recruiting board, Maria Backman had trimmed her list of schools to 15 and seemed at least a couple months off from making her final choice. But she attended the Michigan Elite Camp over the last two days and evidently that was enough to convince her to change her plans and commit to the Maize and Blue. She becomes the second member of Kim Barnes Arico's 2014 class, following the commitment of Jillian Dunston last month.
Barnes Arico continues to recruit well on the East Coast as Backman hails from the coach's former stomping grounds. She's a 6-2 wing out of Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx. There are two services that have rated her, one having her as a 4-star and one as a 3-star. In addition, ASGR has her ranked #158 in her class. That same service has Dunston ranked #98.
Here's a scouting report from Full Court from last July:
Backman, with a medium-solid build, is probably best suited to play the small forward slot but can fit at the four in some systems. She handles and passes well for her size, can drive to the hole and has a nice step-back jumper. New Heights coach Curtiz Simpson on Backman: “She is a really athletic girl. She has a good handle and excellent midrange game. She needs to get a bit more physical.”
The 2014 class is beginning to shape up nicely. A post player is likely the top priority at this point.
Side note: Holidays are turning out extra special for the women's basketball program. Dunston committed on Mother's Day, and now Backman on Father's Day.