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james blackmon jr
Michigan's 2014 basketball recruiting will either just about wrap up or flail about like a demon-god with two of its favorite psuedopods hacked off tomorrow when Devin Booker and James Blackmon, Jr., both announce decisions.
Michigan was long thought the favorite for Booker, a 6'5" shooting guard out of Mississippi, despite his dad's status as a Missouri program legend. That had a lot to do with his mom, who lives in Grand Rapids and supposedly has been enthused about Michigan for a while. His final five:
Booker, rated the No. 18 player in the Class of 2014 by ESPN, has publicly narrowed his choices to Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri and Florida. However, Kentucky, Missouri and Michigan are believed to be the favorites for his signature.
Michigan led, then everyone piled on Kentucky once they offered, and everyone's still on Kentucky despite a late move by Missouri, which hosted him for an official on the 19th immediately followed by an unofficial.
Kentucky folk remain confident; a random internet poll on the local paper's website favors Missouri, with Michigan running at 11%. Booker announces at 4PM.
James Blackmon Jr.
Blackmon's also dropping Thursday, publicly down to a similar list of IU, Michigan, MSU, Kansas, and UK. Blackmon's done a full tour of those schools after his decommitment from Indiana, and after some Michigan chatter things seem to have swung back to UK, heavily. His dad played there.
I guess the hope on both of these recruitments is that people don't really know what's going on with either kid, like they didn't have much of a read on Kam Chatman. That does not seem to be the case, unfortunately. These opinions about both picking Kentucky are of the Strong Take variety.
Blackmon announces at halftime of the Troy-ULM game on ESPNU.
Michigan's likely okay at the 2 even if they strike out tomorrow, which it seems the world expects. Stupid UK's stupid inability to get their plan A targets. Caris LeVert will be back, and Nik Stauskas should be. Even if Stauskas does leave for the NBA, Michigan can back up LeVert with a few minutes a game running two points or going big with Kam Chatman or Zak Irvin.
Michigan does project to have two open slots entering the spring signing period, and would probably like to use one and bank one, which would make the 2014 class two (open plus the graduation of Jon Horford) plus whatever attrition there is in the next two years, NBA or otherwise.
Obviously, the guy on everyone's radar is NV by way of Australia PF Jonah Bolden, who debuted with a splash at the Adidas Nations tournament, likes Michigan (his dad's from Flint) and is an excellent stretch four fit for Beilein's system. He's spending his final year of high school at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, where Michigan has recruited before, nearly reeling in OSU redshirt freshman-to-be Amadeo Della Valle. It'll take a while for Bolden to get all his academics ironed out what with the transfer, but Michigan would almost certainly go after Bolden in earnest once that's settled.
Fellow Australian Dante Exum, a 6'6" fellow skyrocketing towards the top of NBA draft boards, was 50-50 between entering the draft and college as of late August and had Michigan in a top five with Indiana, UNC, Kentucky, and Oregon. That's a longshot for a lot of reasons.
If the big guns don't come through, Michigan will scour locally for another LeVert type: tall, young for his grade, late-rising.
Sounds like Donte Grantham is your next Hello post.
After months of poling down the Mississippi, taking in the sites while chewing on a piece of wheat comes a frenetic burst of machine-gun commitments. Michigan's already seen Trevon Bluiett go off the board to UCLA; Michigan State lost Tyler Ulis to Kentucky. Ypsi's Jaylen Johnson picked Louisville before Michigan could offer.
Those are the first dominoes in a string that should fall over the next couple months. As a reminder, it seems logical that Michigan will take a class of four guys. C Ricky Doyle is committed; Michigan will take one guy they think can play the four, one guy who can play SG, and a wing or combo 3/4.
WV SF/PF Donte Grantham is down to Michigan, Cincinnati, Clemson, and West Virginia. He's taken official visits to Cincinnati and Michigan recently, and Cincinnati responded to their shot a couple weeks ago by taking another combo forward and ceasing their recruitment of him. The tea leaves there combine with insiders on Scout and Rivals predicting good things, and soon. If he drops soon he'll be a Wolverine; the only thing that would give you pause is if he decides to take some additional visits.
Grantham's 6'8" with shooting range and would likely be a stretch four, but has shown some ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. He's a postgrad, so he'll come in a little more polished than other kids.
CA SF/PF Kameron Chatman may drop this weekend on his official visit to Arizona, where Damon Stoudamire is a close friend of the family. Michigan seems to be running second at the moment; if Chatman escapes the desert uncommitted they will have a real shot. Chatman will have to act fast if he's going to join the Michigan class, though, since…
CA SF/PF DJ Wilson appears next on the pecking order. A fringe top 150 kid to the sites, Wilson is a high academic kid who took an official to Columbia—yes, that one—and is scheduled to go to Gonzaga this weekend. Michigan will host him the week after, and if an offer is forthcoming may drop on the spot. He says flat-out that Michigan leads. Wilson's even bigger than Grantham, pushing 6'9", and he sounds like a Beilein guy all the way. ESPN:
He is still growing at almost 6-foot-9 and his ball skills (in the open court) as well as his 3-point shot are impressive. He can face-up defenders and maneuver his way to the rim as well.
Wilson is a great prospect but his assertiveness at both ends needs attention. He plays in spurts and doesn't exert much energy consistently, especially in the areas of rebounding and defending.
Sounds like Evan Smotrycz 2.0. Hopefully he can get those deficiencies ironed out.
NV SF/PF Jonah Bolden is settling in at Findlay but cannot take official visits until he has an SAT score. That happens in October for him. He's planning on a spring decision, and while he just put Michigan in his top ten and rumblings have M in a strong position for him, timelines might not work out.
On the other hand: if Bolden shows that he's an elite recruit this fall, Michigan should have a spot for him. The projection above assumes Michigan banks a scholarship. If he's just that good they could say "screw it" and take him.
MS SG Devin Booker seems to be trending towards Kentucky. Depending on who you talk to his friendship with Ulis is either important or not, but it certainly doesn't hurt the Wildcats that he's on board. That Booker is still on recruiting boards after seven unofficials to Michigan and a recruitment that started in eighth grade implies that he's been looking for something he hasn't found in Ann Arbor; the vibe here is that this has gone on too long for this to end well. See Wesphal, Parrker.
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IN SG James Blackmon, Jr. is the other A-list option. An Indiana decommit who is a Kentucky legacy, he was thought to be a heavy UK lean. Now folks are split on his eventual destination. He visits Michigan this weekend and has an official to UK set up in mid-October; a recommitment to Indiana is also another possibility.
You'd think that one of Booker/Blackmon committing would put off or maybe even cause Kentucky to stop recruiting the other guy, at which point Michigan would seem to be in good shape, but at Roster Turnover U they may need a whole new damn team next year; tough to predict what UK will do. FWIW, some trawling of UK message boards indicates that fans don't think UK will take both. Here is your grain of salt.
OH SG/SF Javon Bess looks to be the primary backup plan. Bess is drawing a lot of Big Ten interest at the moment, and Michigan is amongst them:
"He said that he’d let us know (about a possible visit), because they’re still recruiting Devin Booker and James Blackmon Jr. They’re going to see about them,” Bess said. “He said in a week or so they’re going to call me and we’re going to set up a visit. If it comes to that, where I set up a visit, then I’ll have a scholarship when I get to Michigan. He said he waits for recruits to get to Michigan to offer them.”
So, that's clearly a plan B thing there.
Grantham drops for Michigan soon. Chatman heads to Arizona; Michigan offers Wilson on his visit and he commits. Kentucky picks up one of the shooting guards, and then it's up to them if they want the other. If not, that guy extends his recruitment a bit. I actually feel a bit better about Blackmon than Booker in the event that Kentucky is out of the picture for either. It's 50/50 whether a Plan A picks M; if not, they get Bess.
Michigan then enters the late signing period with an open slot they may or may not use.