There has been a lot of criticism and defense of the Michigan basketball program in recent weeks, especially concerning recruiting and team performance. Some of it has been factual and valid and some of it not so much. When the comments are based on expectations or personal preference, they are hard to defend or criticize. But there is information available that documents where Michigan ranks versus other Big Ten Schools and other accepted basketball powers. My intent is to provide statistical facts and to minimize personal opinion. I will let you, the reader, use this information to support your own point of view, change your point of view or debunk other posters point of view with whom you disagree. What fun!
First, some historical facts about Michigan basketball.
John Beilein arrived for the 2007-08 season. It had been 21 years since Michigan last won a Big Ten championship. Beilein has won two in his 9 years here. It had been 9 years (1998) since UM had appeared in the NCAA tournament. Beilein took the team to the tournament in his second year and in six of his 9 seasons with seeds of 10, 8, 4, 4, 2 & 11. It had been 12 years since our last sweet sixteen and elite eight, Beilein has made two. 1998 was the last time Michigan finished in the final AP Top 25 Poll, finishing 12th. Since Beilein, we have finished 13 in 2011-12, tied for 10th in 20112-13 and 7th in 2013-14. He was voted Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2014. He recruited and coached two of Michigan's five B1G POYs in Burke and Stauskas (others were Tarpley, Grant & Rice). Burke, along with Russell are Michigan's two National POYs.
To evaluate recruiting, I looked at team recruiting rankings using 247 Sports Composite rankings from 2003 (the first year of comprehensive data) through 2015. The 2016 classes are not yet complete. The method used was to add the team recruiting rankings for those 13 years and compute the average annual ranking for the teams. I listed the teams in order of average rank for that period selected. I also listed each team's best and worst ranking and how many times they finished in the top ten and top 25 ranked classes.You will notice that just about every team had a bad year or more. Caveat: When I got to teams ranked in high double digits or triple digits, I noticed that it was often due to small class size (one or two players, even if they were four and five star players). For that reason, I dropped years where a team was ranked above 99 and if there were more than four such years out of the 13 used, I dropped that team from this analysis. I capped the list at 50 teams. Obviously, this looks only at recruiting and does not account for transfers or early attrition.
For performance, I used the NCAA tournament. I listed results for the period 2004 (first year that the 2003 class would have played) through 2016. I listed the number of tournament appearances, sweet sixteens, elite eights, final fours and championships.
|Avg||# Of||# Of||NCAA|
|Class||Best||Worst||Top 10||Top 25||Tourn.||Sweet||Elite||Final|
For Big Ten teams, I did a second recap that looked only at the years Beilein has been at Michigan (2008-2016). I didn't include the 2007 class because that wasn't his class and I did include 2016, even though it isn't final, because many complain about recent results. I am listing the team and their average recruiting ranking for this period and the number of B1G regular season championships won. (1) Illinois 25, 0 (2T) Ohio State 26, 3 (2T) Michigan State 26, 3 (4) Indiana 27, 2 (5) Michigan 32, 2 (6) Maryland 38, 0 (7) Wisconsin 47, 2 (8T) Purdue 48, 1 (8T) Minnesota 48, 0 (10) Iowa 59, 0. Maryland, along with Rutgers and Nebraska have not been full time members. PSU? Who cares? I will point out that Beilein's first class in 2008, which he got a late start on, was his worst ranked at #73. It was comprised of Cronin, Novak and Douglass. If you drop that class from this analysis, Michigan's average ranking rises to 26.
Where's the bump? Many complain that we didn't get a bump from our run in 2013 & 2014. The 2014 class was #28 (and was pretty well finalized prior to the run), 2015 was a class of one (4* Wagner) and 2016 is currently at #27. That is an improvement over our average of 32, but not a huge leap. I am not sure there is such a thing as a bump from a deep two-year tournament run. It is hard to find comparable teams to compare it to. Feel free to give it a shot.
On a final note, I found this interesting. Leading up to Villanova's championship run this year, their last four classes were ranked #38, #32, #46 & #30. Oklahoma, who they beat in the semis, had classes of #45, #83, #39 & #54. Wisconsin made it to the championship game in 2014 with classes of #50, #39, #120 & #46. Likewise, MSU's final four finish in 2014 was with classes ranked #21, #12, #76 & #48. And for Michigan in 2013 it was #35, #48, #21 & #7. Top ranked players is one way to get there and experienced teams of upper classmen works also,
With the commitment of 5-star SG Tyus Battle, Michigan currently has the top ranked recruiting class in the country. This class could potentially get even better if Cassius Winston commits to Michigan. But I thought Beilein couldn't recruit?
"Keelon Lawson is the head coach at Hamilton High in Memphis and is the last coach to lead a city school to a state title while going unbeaten in the largest classification. He played at UAB and LeMoyne-Owen and spoke to at least two other schools (including Vanderbilt) about potentially joining their coaching staffs."
It seems that on those credentials alone it would seem fair for him to be hired as an asst. coach at Memphis. It also doesn't hurt that...
Dedric Lawson is a 6-8 power forward in the Class of 2016 who is ranked seventh in the countryby ESPN.com. Chandler Lawson is a 6-6 wing who is ranked No. 1 overall in the Class of 2019 by one recruiting site. Jonathan Lawson is a sixth-grader who one coach said "may be the best of all of the brothers."
While this seems kind of shady its also the best of both worlds. Memphis is hiring a coach that has done well at the HS level, is a former D1 player, and had developed 3 of his sons into highly rated prospects...while also possible securing the commitments of said prospects. As long as all 4 children are allowed their freedom and not forced to choose Memphis this is a good move.
Sam Webb offered a good overview of where Michigan basketball recruiting currently stands on today's recruiting roundup (podcast), which I'll try to summarize here. I think one of the big takeaways is that Sam believes Michigan is in great shape with several big-time 2016 prospects, which the coaching staff needs to take into account when working on the 2015 class. This means that they might limit themselves to just one 2015 combo guard/wing, with Sam including Eron Harris in that category, along with:
- Brevin Pritzl, 6-3 shooting guard from De Pere, Wisconsin — visiting Michigan this Sunday
- Eric Davis, 6-3 combo guard from Saginaw Arthur Hill — visiting Michigan on May 15
- Jalen Coleman, 6-3 combo guard from Indianapolis — slated to bring his recruitment into greater focus in the next couple of weeks
Limiting the 2015 class to one combo guard/wing would enable Michigan to take a big plus perhaps a point guard (e.g., Jalen Brunson), although Sam said yesterday he believes a point guard is more of a luxury in 2015, especially because of Michigan's position with some top 2016 point guard prospects.
Speculating on which 2016 prospects would get offers come June 15, Sam mentioned the five below. He believes Michigan is in terrific shape with the first four of these.
Seth Towns: 6-7 forward, Columbus Northland HS (Trey Burke's HS). Visiting Michigan today, which will be his fifth or sixth visit to Ann Arbor. Towns believes this latest visit is a precursor to a June 15 offer.
T.J. Leaf: 6-9 forward, Foothills Christian (El Cajon, CA). Visiting Michigan on May 19—his second U-M visit (blown away on his first visit, which was for the Notre Dame football game). 247 composite ranking: #21. EDIT: Found this regarding Leaf from Sam on a thread on the free Scout board:
He and his dad love the offense and this will be his second visit to Ann Arbor in less than a year. Plus mom and dad are originally from Indiana and the majority of both sides of the family still reside in the Midwest.
Derryck Thornton Jr.: 6-2 point guard, Findlay Prep (Henderson, NV). 247 composite ranking: #19.
Tyus Battle: 6-5 shooting guard, Gill St. Bernard's (Gladstone, NJ). 247 composite ranking: #8. Thornton and Battle may be a package deal.
Cassius Winston: 6-0 point guard, Detroit Jesuit (Jordan Morgan's HS). 247 composite ranking: #29.
Although Michigan is in great shape with several of these prospects, Sam doesn't anticipate any will quickly jump to accept a Michigan offer once extended. He thinks they all will take some time before making their college choice.
EDIT: In that Scout thread I noted above, Sam also mentions a new 2016 prospect that Michigan has "jumped in on": Dennis “Junior” Smith, a 6-2 point guard out of Fayetteville (N.C.) Trinity Christian—"an explosive athlete that also recently began garnering attention from Louisville, Duke, and North Carolina thanks in large part to his stellar showing in Dallas a few weeks back (Michigan was also in attendance)." He's ranked #15 in the 2016 class per the 247 composite rankings.
A few notes on basketball recruiting, based in part on today's recruiting roundup on WTKA:
Aubrey Dawkins: Had a great (and extended) visit to Dayton, according to Sam Webb, who also reported that Dawkins is not taking any more visits and will choose between Michigan and Dayton. The announcement could come any day and will happen within the week. In Sam's opinion, Michigan has the upper hand based on the criteria that Dawkins related to Sam. If Dawkins adheres to his stated criteria, Sam thinks Michigan will be the choice. I don't have a Scout subscription, so I don't know what's in the premium article on this posted there, but from what was said on the free Scout board, it appears that one criterion is academics.
Cole Huff: There's been no announcement of a visit date to Michigan for Huff. But his former AAU coach, Clint Parks, tweeted yesterday that Huff was off to Creighton for "his 1st of 4 visits." Visits to Iowa (May 2) and Dayton (May 9) are already known, and presumably Michigan will be the fourth. As a pure FYI that I mention only because of previous discussions about Huff: UCLA just lost Jordan Adams to a late NBA entry decision.
Igor Ibaka: Sam thinks this is another case—similar to Byron Wesley—of a player expressing interest in Michigan, not the other way around. With Ibaka, it "certainly hasn't been Michigan pursuing him." Sam noted the rarity of juco transfers to Michigan in basketball. In the end, in his opinion, this is likely "much ado about nothing."
Also, for anyone looking for a good overview of where Michigan basketball recruiting stands, Sam has just updated his recruiting primer.
EDIT2: Updated title so people know there's good info in the thread from Don on football recruiting.
The Spartans have signed a 2014 point guard from Kansas, and his name is Lourawls "Tum-Tum" Nairn. I am sure he is a good hoops player, but that name--I be like dang.