this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
I will keep my composure. I will keep my composure. I will keep my composure.
Well, I tried, but when Michigan hauls in their biggest basketball recruit since either LaVell Blanchard (1999) or Jerod Ward (1994) it's time to get excited. Mitch McGary chose the Wolverines today over Duke and Florida live on ESPNU, and lo, there is much rejoicing in Ann Arbor.
5*, #1 C,
5*, #1 C,
#3 C, #5 Ovr
All four services are in agreement that McGary is 6'10" and around 250 pounds (except ESPN, which has him at 225, which seems implausible), and all are in agreement that he's really, really good at basketball.
How good? Let's get to the evaluations, starting with ESPN:
McGary is a physically imposing presence in the paint with good size, tremendous upper body strength, and limitless energy and physicality. He is proactive seeking out contact inside, a consistent finisher, and high volume two way rebounder. He is incredibly active with a terrific motor and great toughness. The lefty is skilled enough to stretch the defense to 18 feet, has the dexterity to dunk with both hands in congestion, and sets big screens both on and off the ball. He runs well in straight lines and has pretty soft hands around the basket.
That's their "strengths" blurb, while areas to work on include developing a more polished post game, using his right hand more (he's a lefty), and his basketball I.Q.—they cite that he plays with "blind aggression," which seems to make sense when you're a 6'10" NBA prospect with outstanding mobility and finishing ability, but that's just me.
UMHoops caught McGary—as well as his AAU teammate and best friend, now-fellow 2012 commit Glenn Robinson III—at the Pittsburgh Jam Fest this spring:
McGary’s uncanny combination of size, strength, athleticism and coordination is extremely impressive because it allows him to do so much on the court. He loves to rebound the ball and push it up the court himself. He attacks the basket with a nice face-up game, although it’d be nice to see him play more with his back to the basket.
His decision making needs work as he often tries to do far too much before turning the ball over.He also tends to float to the perimeter a bit too much and loves to settle for jump shots despite having the tools to get a much better look at the basket. Overall, McGary was extremely impressive and he is on the verge of blowing up if he hasn’t already. The lefty’s flaws are correctable and easily outweighed by his size and talent.
I love imagining a 6'10" power forward leading the fast break, and now I don't have to, because he'll be doing it for Michigan and you can see him run the break in the highlights below. Also taking note of his precocious athletic talents was Eric Bossi of Rivals, who saw McGary at the NY2LA Summer Jam in July:
What a total animal this guy played like on Friday. First, the five-star big man broke Texas PRO in the first half with his ill-tempered length-of-the-court drives and rebounding, and he was able to rest himself for the championship after racking up 14 points and 16 boards. Then, looking as fresh as he would if he was playing his first game of the summer, he went out and dominated the paint in SYF's win over Dream Vision in the championship game. Bottom line, McGary is a competitor with a non-stop motor, great hands, great skill and even greater will.
ESPN's Paul Biancardi liked McGary's motor enough to deem it the best in the 2012 ESPN100, and also noted McGary's Novakian enthusiasm even when he's on the sideline:
It is difficult to find players who bring all-out effort and energy on a consistent basis, but McGary does it better than anyone. Not only does he bring energy to his own game, he gives it to his teammates. His motor never stops as he constantly works the backboard, runs the floor and dives on the floor for loose balls. His enthusiasm even carries over when he's on the bench as he cheers on his teammates and remains vocal. McGary has talent and physical tools, but his motor makes him special and will make him money one day.
Maybe the gritty grit grit stuff isn't coincidence, as McGary hails from Chesterton, Indiana, home of—you guessed it—Zack Novak, who hosted McGary on his official visit. McGary transferred after his junior season from Chesterton High School to Brewster Academy, a powerhouse school in New Hampshire, but I'm now strongly suspecting there's something in the water in Chesterton.
More scout drooling—plus a very interesting comparison—from Coast 2 Coast Recruiting:
When watching Mitch McGary play, it’s easy to envision a young David Lee. Whether he is effortlessly running the floor, shooting left-handed fadeaways, abusing the rim with powerful dunks, or blocking shots into next Wednesday, all punctuated by electric yells, it’s a beautiful sight to any basketball fan. The newly sculpted 6’10 250 pound power forward/center started tearing through the basketball world in the past three months at the NY2LA Swish ‘N Dish, The Adidas May Classic, The Pittsburgh Jam Fest, the Jayhawk Invitational, and most recently, the NBPA Top 100 camp.
I'm totally fine with the Lee comparison as long as it's related to offense—Lee was a McDonald's All-American in 2001 (and the slam dunk contest champ that year) who went to Florida and was drafted in the first round (30th overall) by the Knicks, and he became a 20-10 guy for them, but his lack of ability on the defensive end played a role in him getting shipped to basketball purgatory at Golden State last season. On the offensive end, Lee is a 6'9" PF/C with great athleticism for his size, a decent mid-range jumper, and he's an absolute demon on the boards.
Finally, I had to end with this quote by Scout's Brian Snow from today's timely Sam Webb article [emphasis mine]:
"To put it bluntly — (at Michigan) he'd be the starting center and the best player on the team the moment he walks on campus," Snow said emphatically. "I really don't see a scenario in which that isn't the case. He is probably the hardest playing kid in the country. There's absolutely no prima donna to him at all. He'll run through a wall for you, he'll dive on the floor. Then he is a pretty good athlete. He can really face the rim and handle the ball, especially against centers. He also scores down low, blocks shots, and he is one of the better rebounders in the country.
"We're talking about a kid that can do it all from the low post," said Daniels. "He can run, he has good hands, he plays hard and with energy, he rebounds, blocks shots, and he can score. Whatever school gets Mitch is getting a heck of a player and a major impact-type guy as soon as he sets foot on campus."
Dylan also posted UMHoops's final scouting impressions of McGary and several other scouting reports (a couple of which appear above) yesterday in anticipation of Mitch McGary Day. It's well worth a read, and since I got half these links from Dylan, you should feel obligated to click over and give his fantastic site a read, especially on a day like today.
McGary boasted six offers, and they're from a who's who of basketball powerhouses: Aside from Michigan, he had scholarship offers from Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, and North Carolina. I suspect that offer list would've been much larger had McGary not reclassified from a 2011 to a 2012 recruit—transferring from his hometown of Chesterton to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire in the process—and blowing up relatively late by basketball recruiting standards.
Dylan posted an extensive video archive with a solid ten videos. Lots of good stuff there, and here's one of my favorites:
Yes, he ole'd a defender with an around-the-back dribble on the break and finished with a two-handed dunk from halfway to the free throw line. That was not a hallucination, unless I am also hallucinating, which hopefully is not the case.
Also, obligatory video of McGary shattering a backboard and then revealing his incredible nickname, "White Thunder":
/BOOM Tractor Traylor'd (RIP)
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
He's gonna start. I know, I'm going way out on a limb there. Here's what Michigan's lineup will likely look like for the 2012-13 season (McGary's freshman year), with the not-entirely-safe-but-certainly-not-crazy assumption that Tim Hardaway Jr. sticks around for his junior season:
PG: Trey Burke (backup: Carlton Brundidge)
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr. (Matt Vogrich/Nick Stauskas)
SF: Evan Smotrycz (Glenn Robinson III)
PF: Mitch McGary (Evan Smotrycz/Jon Horford)
C: Jordan Morgan (Jon Horford)
That's, well, a really good team. Big Ten contender, dangerous in the NCAA tournament good. And if you believe Brian Snow, McGary will be the best player on a team featuring a junior Tim Hardaway Jr.—you have permission to get hype, people. McGary should be contending for all-conference honors as soon as he steps on campus, and has the potential to do even more than that.
As for whether or not McGary will stick around beyond his freshman season, that's certainly in question. From Nick Baumgardner at AnnArbor.com:
[McGary] would provide instant impact. For how long? That remains unclear. Plenty of national analysts have pegged McGary as a potential "one-and-done" prospect, though [ESPN recruiting analyst Dave] Telep said, "I don't think it's unrealistic to say he could be (in college) for two years."
I'll take two years of McGary in a heartbeat, obviously. It's easy to accept these things if a player is likely going to have a huge impact right away, especially when it means Michigan will likely be on the radar of future top recruits in a way they haven't been in over a decade.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
McGary joins forward Glenn Robinson III (Rivals's #34 overall prospect) and guard Nick Stauskas (#79) in the class of 2012, and that will wrap things up with a dramatic flourish for that year's group. The Wolverines are already full for the class of 2013, with four-stars Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin and three-stars Mark Donnal and Austin Hatch (although Hatch's status as a 2013 recruit is in doubt after the tragic plane crash—he will likely reclassify as a 2014 player if he can continue his basketball career) already in the fold.
Yes, Michigan is already moving on to the 2014 class. Beilein Uber Alles. Really, the job the Beilein and assistant Bacari Alexander did with this recruitment was phenomenal by all accounts. I had to pull another quote from Sam Webb's article, because it should get you extremely excited for the future of the program (as if you're not already):
"What I really like about Michigan is its coaching staff, especially Bacari Alexander," said McGary in his ESPN blog Wednesday. "He's probably one of the most underrated coaches in the country. He really knows what he's doing with the big men. I just like that I can trust the coaches there, and I actually like that they're not on the biggest stage yet. That gives me the opportunity to go there and make a huge impact from day one."
Cue the Muppets, if Brian hasn't posted them already.
COACH BA TWEET. If you are not following basketball assistant Bacari Alexander on Twitter, you are doing yourself a disservice. Yesterday's gem:
The iPad by far is the biggest tool used by coaches on the road. It has saved cell phone battery life.
Love the information in the second sentence. So matter-of-fact. Love that guy.
I have to think the Alliance is going to frown on this. As covered by Misopogon last night, a couple Wolverines (including an incoming freshman) have disappeared from Michigan's roster [Ed-M:
I'm still waiting for confirmation but other media outlets are reporting It's confirmed: Terry (the Elder) Talbott is medicaled too], ever-so-conveniently opening up a couple roster spots for class of 2012 commits (of which Brady Hoke has said to expect 23-26, and we're currently up to 22 openings).
This disappearing act is sure to draw the ire of Brian, the resident oversigning watchdog (that post is his "final" word on the topic... from more than three years ago). The point is that when signing a big class - or in this case, aiming to sign one - you're actively hoping some guys currently on your roster will not make it through their four years. That puts you in a sketchy-feeling gray area at best.
Of course, there have been hints going back to Rodriguez that Christian Pace's injuries could be career-threatening (and Teric Jones's knee injury did indeed look terrible, etc.), so maybe we're confusing the cause and effect in Hoke's statements about signing a full class? Pace, at the very least, seemed like he would be a contributor if healthy, so there's far less motive to push him out.
Fairly or not, it still gives off the feeling that Michigan is striding away from its moral high ground on the issue. Brian is certain to feel much more strongly about this, so brace yourselves for his wrath when he returns.
Other things that are certain to thrill Brian. Say goodbye to non-conference away games, according to David Brandon. The original tweet from Mark Snyder didn't seem to doom us to a purgatory of Notre Dame and the Directionals as non-conference opponents, but the full quote from Brandon is not so promising:
"I don't believe we can or should go on the road for nonconference games when we can put 113,000 people in our stadium. It's, financially, the right thing to do. It's the right thing to do for our fans, in terms of their ticket packages. And we're going to alternate with Notre Dame, so we're going to have one game on the road every other year. So the rest of those games, I would like to have at Michigan Stadium."
I was hopeful that it would mean the years Notre Dame plays in Ann Arbor would bring Bama-in-Dallas events at the very least, but Brandon's quote seems clear: No games outside of Ann Arbor or South Bend.
Taking the easy money is Brandon's vision of "creating the future," for better or for worse. With a four-year warning in place to opt out of the Notre Dame series occasionally, the chances will be few and far between to play anyone else, if they exist at all.
Upside? One potential reason for the reduction in worthwhile non-conference games, however, could be looked at as a good thing. Purdue revealed that the Big Ten asked it to re-work some non-conference games for the 2017 season and beyond, possibly indicating a nine-game conference schedule coming soon to a stadium near you.
Though it reduces non-conference opportunities, Brandon has made it clear that he wanted to do that anyway, so I'd rather face Wisconsin or Penn State than Akron or Kent State, right?
Off the hook? I'm not going to touch the topic of Ohio State getting off with what seems to be minimal punishment, but I assure you Brian will cover it in extreme depth upon his return, as well.
Etc. Hammer and Rails profiles former Boiler Glenn Robinson Jr., who you may recognize as the father of hoops commit Glenn Robinson III. Duane Long says OH OL Kyle Kalis isn't solidly committed to Michigan and Kalis basically responds "hey leave me alone please." Much more on recruiting tomorrow, per the usual weekly schedule. Michigan is named fourth in the Legends Division by a media poll.
John Beilein and his assistants met with press today to give the season a final wrap, introduce Bacari Alexander, and look forward to the future. Notes:
John Beilein on Bacari Alexander & the Staff
- Beilein reached out to a few people regarding the coaching vacancy, but Bacari Alexander was the best fit. He's the total package as a teacher of the game. Whenever there are changes on a staff, it's an opportunity to address issues.
- Since Michigan's big men have no game experience, it's important to have their position coach be a teacher of fundamentals.
- As part of the process of interviewing Bacari Alexander, he worked out with Patrick Beilein while the current assistants watched.
- The coaching staff has good chemistry, with all having a familiarity in the Big Ten footprint for recruiting, but also able to recruit nationally. Alexander brings a strong in-state connection.
- Beilein hasn't made a lot of progress on selecting a new administrative assistant (Jerry Dunn left the coaching staff at the same time as John Mahoney), but it's possible that he could be a former coach. There's also a chance some of the responsibilities change between that role and the video coordinator.
- Bacari will have to get in shape to bang with the big guys in practice. He's going to be a hands-on coach. He can help the team increase their physical play when they need it.
- So far, Alexander hasn't had a chance to get into the groove in Ann Arbor. He's still acclimatizing to the new surroundings. It's "exciting" to be a part of the Michigan program.
- Alexander was coached by fellow assistant Mike Jackson when he played at University of Detroit Mercy. Said Alexander: "We've had a lot of good times together, hopefully a lot more."
- Alexander has always enjoyed sweating with the players in practice. He can demonstrate things, instead of just describing them.
- It is both exciting and challenging to have such a young group of big men to coach. Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford were specifically mentioned.
- There is a lot of parity nowadays in Division 1 basketball. The mid-majors have good coaches, and veteran mid-major teams can compete with programs that have one-and-done talent.
- There's a lot more information out there about recruiting than there was in Alexander's day. The internet experts aren't always accurate. With the rise of AAU ball, there's less of an emphasis on educating the players.
Beilein on Other Stuff
- Ground will be broken on the new basketball practice facility May 10th. Within 17 months, that project and Crisler upgrades should be in place.
- As Big Ten expansion goes, Beilein doesn't know much about the finances and marketing, but he trusts the university presidents and Jim Delaney to do the right thing for the current Big Ten schools. "If we expand, it's going to be with the right universities."
- The Ohio State loss in the Big Ten Tournament hurt, but nearly every season ends with a loss. The players and coaches need to get over it and move on.
- Manny and DeShawn are still around campus. Both are training very hard to prepare for the next level.
- DeShawn Sims, Anthony Wright, Zack Gibson, and CJ Lee will be graduating this weekend.
- Beilein's nephew, captain Joseph Ludick, is one of the pilots for Marine One, the presidential helicopter. He'll be in Ann Arbor this weekend to fly President Obama.
So there's this new assistant coach, right? Who is he?
Bacari Alexander hails from Detroit, where he attended Southwestern High School. He played at Southwestern under coach Larry Price.
Following his high school career, he moved on to Robert Morris outside Pittsburgh. There he was an All-Northeast Conference freshman in 1995. He spent only two years at RMU, averaging 8.2 points and 4.5 assists in his 55 games.
From Robert Morris, Alexander transferred to Detroit-Mercy. He played two years as a Titan, averaging 5.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in his 62 games played. UofD won the Midwestern Collegiate Conference both of his seasons with matching 25-6 records and played in the NCAA tournament. He made the All-Conference Defensive Team as a senior. YouTube-age:
Following a short stint in the Pistons' front office, Alexander returned to the court as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. He played with the team for two years and was inducted (along with all former Globetrotters) into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
Alexander started his coaching career with six years at his alma mater. The Titans never made the NCAA Tournament with Alexander on the coaching staff at Detroit, but they advanced to the NIT following the 2002 season. In 2005, they nearly upset Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Horizon League Tournament to make the Big Dance.
From Detroit, Alexander moved on to Ohio University. In his lone year at Ohio the Bobcats went 20-13 (9-7 MAC) and advanced to the second round of the CBI Tournament.
Alexander has spent the last two years in Kalamazoo coaching Western Michigan's frontcourt. He coached two Broncos, spectacularly-named Flenard Whitfield and Nathan Hutcheson, to All-MAC Freshman honors. Western went 10-21 in Alexander's first year with the team, but their 7-9 conference mark was enough to win the MAC West. They improved to 18-15 last year with an 8-8 mark in conference, good for second in the West.
Before leaving Western Michigan, Alexander helped the Broncos ink JuCo bigman Caleb Dean:
“I felt real comfortable with coach Hawkins and coach (Bacari) Alexander played a big part in it, too,” said Dean... “They made me feel comfortable. That was pretty much a wrap.”
From Michigan's official release, Alexander sounds genuinely excited about the opportunity in Ann Arbor:
"My family and I are very excited to be part of the Michigan family," said Alexander. "As a native of the State of Michigan, I feel very fortunate to be associated with such a great program. For a lack of better terms this is a match made in heaven for me.
"I am anxious to start working with this young and developing team, and I am eager and motivated to recruit the kind of student-athletes that will put Michigan back to the top of the Big Ten."
Michael Rothstein's extensive profile on AnnArbor.com provides insight as to what Alexander will bring to the program, especially as a recruiter:
“I’m a grass-roots guy. I’ve done very well in recruiting the national urban areas of the United States, let alone Detroit,” Alexander said. “I’m a PSL product and a lot of times it helps with regards to recruiting because people tend to embrace their own. So that can be, that has been an advantage.
But he'll also help to mold Michigan's current big men, filling the duties he's performed at previous coaching stops, and that John Mahoney has been performing at Michigan for the past few years:
“The thing that’s nice about that particular situation, with the youth of the frontcourt in particular, is you get a blank canvas, very similar to what I had inherited during my time at Western Michigan,” Alexander said. “We had a young group and we gave them a baptism by fire and that’s going to be needed in a grueling and physical Big Ten conference.”
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Alexander will be charged with teaching a very inexperienced group of big men when he arrives in Ann Arbor. DeShawn Sims and Zack Gibson graduate. Ben Cronin left the program early in the season due to medical issues. That leaves a set of four freshmen. Jordan Morgan and Blake McLimans redshirted last year; Michigan has just signed Jon Horford and Evan Smotrycz.
Horford is likely bound for a redshirt unless there's a dire need for him to play. Smotrycz may play more of a wing-forward role in John Beilein's perimeter-oriented offense. That means McLimans and Morgan will be the focus of getting guys ready to play right away in the post. Alexander's pedigree the past two seasons (albeit on a smaller stage) is a sign that he's capable of getting at least one of them ready to go.
Down the road, Alexander will help with in-state recruiting, particularly in Detroit. He's a Detroit native (who grew up a Michigan fan), a Detroit Public School League graduate, and a charismatic recruiter. He's also known as one of the best-dressed coaches in the NCAA, which is apparently something people track. Who knew?
April 24, 2010
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Saturday, April 24) the hiring of Bacari Alexander as an assistant coach for the Wolverine program.
"I am very excited about the addition of Bacari Alexander to our coaching staff," said Beilein. "From the very beginning of this search, I had specific qualities and characteristics I was looking for in our next basketball coach. Bacari fits that profile 100 percent."
"He has strong roots in Michigan and significant recruiting experience both here and in neighboring states," added Beilein. "He is a passionate teacher with strong communication skills. Bacari is a former post player and has a proven ability in the development of big men at the college level. With our young front court, that was an important factor in my final selection. I look forward to Bacari's immediate and very positive impact on the growth of our program."
More after the jump!