“I’m way more comfortable,” Gardner said. “Last year was my first year starting, and it was rough, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity. A lot of adversity I fought through, and I feel like I did a really good job of never giving up, never giving up on myself and my teammates. I feel my teammates recognized that, and my coaches recognized that, and I feel like that will help me.”
Michigan received their first commitment to the basketball class of 2014 yesterday in Fort Meyers (FL) Bishop Verot forward Ricky Doyle, who received a scholarship offer while visiting for the Indiana game. It was Doyle's first visit outside the state of Florida, but he told UMHoops's Joe Stapleton that he saw everything he needed to make a decision:
What made you choose Michigan without going on all your other visits?
“When I was visiting the campus, I couldn’t think of anything wrong about it. Like, I was in the training room thinking wow, this is awesome. The coaching staff was awesome. They’re a great group of guys and I can’t wait to work with them. The staff, the gym, they had everything. Why wait when it’s right in front of you?”
While Doyle is the first prospect to commit to the 2014 class, one-time 2013 commit Austin Hatch has reclassified to 2014 after he was involved in a tragic plane crash in 2011. Doyle's pledge means the Wolverines are committed to the max 13 scholarships for the 2014-15 season, but that assumes zero attrition from the current roster, and raise your hand if you expect Trey Burke to play his senior season at Michigan. Thought so.
3*, NR PF
3*, 78, #29 PF
As you can see, Doyle isn't a high-profile recruit; he decided not to play AAU basketball, which goes a long way towards explaining his lack of exposure. Three of the four sites list him at 6'9" (Scout says 6'7") and all have him in the neighborhood of 230 pounds. Given that his game isn't perimeter-oriented, he should be a five (center) in John Beilein's system.
With the lack of AAU exposure, there isn't a ton in the way of scouting out there on Doyle. ESPN's evaluation discusses his potential as a post scorer, pegging him as a mid-major prospect with room to develop into a high-major option ($):
He's got a history of basketball in the family. His father had a cup of coffee with the Detroit Pistons before playing overseas. He's receiving good coaching in high school and improved from his freshman to sophomore season. Could be a kid who plays pick and pop to mid-range. Runs well and changes ends with decent touch in the lane. Like that already owns a hook shot and has ways to score in the lane.
Not a bad athlete but not an exceptional one either. Still needs to continue to cultivate his interior post moves and work in the weight room to gain a measure of explosion to help versus size.
A good student, Doyle is a legit mid-major prospect and because of all the history and improvements, he could wind up at a high level as a second post option.
Scout's Andre Barthwell caught up with Doyle's high school coach, whose evaluation largely mirrors the above—Doyle isn't an exceptional athlete but has good potential as a post scorer—and includes quite the NBA comparison ($) [emphasis mine]:
“Ricky has a great feel for the game,” said Herting. “He is really good with his back to the basket. Down low he can score with either hand and he is a very good three point shooter. He just doesn’t shoot it because that is not what we need from him on this team. He is very a fundamentally sound rebounder in terms of boxing out. He is working on his face up game and his foot work for more quickness. That isn’t to say he doesn’t have quickness he is working on it to get better at. With what he can do out on the floor his upside is huge can only get better that’s what you like about him and the direction his game is going in."
“He is a versatile player who can post up and pop out and hit the 10-12 foot shot,” Mr. Doyle added. ["]Ricky can handle out on the perimeter as well. Coach Jim Larranaga from Miami says he seen Dirk Nowitski when he was young, and that’s who Ricky reminds him of. Ricky has a seven-foot two-inch wing span with a size 18 shoe, and his doctor said that his growth plates have not closed so he is still growing."
If Doyle can develop that three-point shot he could be an option as a stretch four, though Beilein would probably prefer a little more athleticism at the position.
Doyle’s back-to-the-basket skills are second to none for a player his age. He is proficient finishing with both hands and has an array of post moves to choose from. He can also catch the ball in the post, face up and score consistently coming across the lane as well as showed on multiple occasions against LaBelle. He took just one shot outside of the paint in Thursday’s game but has showcased a smooth mid-range jump shot in the past that indicates that he is comfortable offensively outside of the paint.
Bleich also praised Doyle's defensive instincts and ability to box out, which should be welcome news to Michigan fans after watching the Wolverines for the last month.
Per UMHoops, Doyle held offers from Boston College, Stanford, Virginia, Purdue, Penn State, and Miami (YTM). He also had significant interest from Kansas State, Washington, and USC. That's a pretty solid offer list for a three-star/unranked recruit that didn't play AAU ball during a critical evaluation period.
According to MaxPreps, Doyle averaged 21.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game while shooting 71% from the field and 67% from the line this season, though he only played nine games due to a foot injury. As a sophomore, he averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, shooting 66% from the field and 65% from the line.
Doyle doesn't come off as a player who's going to rise to the top of the rankings or be a star in college, but you can bet John Beilein sees something in him that the recruiting services haven't—his track record with early commits (see: Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III) speaks for itself.
As said above, Doyle projects to the five in Beilein's system; when he hits campus, the returning post players will be redshirt senior Jon Horford, junior Mitch McGary, redshirt junior Max Bielfeldt, and sophomore (2013 commit) Mark Donnal. Only McGary and Horford seem guaranteed anything beyond role player status at that point, but it'll also be hard for Doyle to crack the rotation right away, especially if he's got work to do in the weight room before he's ready to hold up against Big Ten big men.
If Doyle lives up to his reputation as a skilled post scorer, he should have little trouble carving out a role down the road for a program that's lacked an interior scoring threat for quite some time. Continuing to develop a mid-range game should further improve Doyle's chances of seeing significant time; from there, how he develops physically and athletically will determine how big an impact he has at Michigan.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
UMHoops has the full scholarship breakdown—while Michigan appears full right now, expect at least two more spots to open up with the inevitable departure of Trey Burke and near-certain attrition that comes with any college program.
Michigan hosted their three top remaining targets last weekend along with Doyle: five-star MS SG Devin Booker, four-star IN SF Trevon Bluiett, and four-star OH SF Vincent Edwards. All three have outstanding offers and the Wolverines are very much in the mix for each of them.
Ace, as far at 2014 commitments, have you heard anything about Austin Hatch since he reclassified. I wasn't sure if he would be able to recover to the point to play at the collegiate level since the crash, but I wondered if he can't, could we still give him a scholarship for medical hardship akin to what happens in football?
Hatch hasn't returned to game action since the crash—he's made a lot of progress and is doing everything but full-court five-on-five at this point [LINK], but it's still unclear whether he'll be able to play at Michigan. Regardless of whether he plays, however, his scholarship will be honored, and he'll almost certainly be granted a medical hardship if he's unable to play.
"raise your hand if you expect Trey Burke to play his senior season at Michigan."
Did I just embarass MYself in the office. I'm terrible at Simon Says, too.
On a serious note, can't wait to see this guy take up space in the middle. I like how the recruiting service called him really good with his "back to the basket" -- the type of guy that I think we need to balance out the athleticism on the perimeter.
Hoping for more basketball Hellos in the future. Two thoughts from this committment looking ahead.
1) It appears Beilein is less interested in finding stretch four big men as we don't have any outstanding offers in 2013 and 2014 right now. I wonder if this means Beilein wants to continue using the "small lineup" with 6-6 types from the 2 to the 4. Yes, I know Donnal has an outside shot, but I'm not sure if that will be something Beilein emphasizes in the offense.
2) With Donnal and Doyle (and what I've seen from McGary this year), I wonder if Beilein is going to use a "two post" offense more in the coming seasons and add more pick and pop game to the arsenal. This would be a really nice addition because it would make the screen offense even harder to defend. If an opposing team has to respect a screener's mid range game more than right now, that will open the door for more back door cuts or drives to the paint and dishes to open shooters.
ED: yes I realize that "small lineup" and "two post" offense are contradictory. I mean these two points as two options for the offensive look that could be interchanged throughout games.
has another year to develope, I think that you might be under selling this kid a little. I think he has potential to be an outstanding D1 player (4 or 5 years from now) and could play either the 4 or 5 (especially with his shooting ability). He already looks like he has more moves and scoring ability than many of our current bigs. I would love to see him an McGary on the floor together.
This kids video is amazing. He reminds me of a tougher, smarter, more athletic Chrisitan Laettner with a better left hand.
In all seriousness his video looks great, but the level of competition is comically bad. A couple of times he looks like Godzilla heading to downtown Tokyo. I have no idea how'll he'll perform at Michigan, but he has nice skillz and Beilien's track record is pretty awesome so I'm excited. Again, do yourself a favor and watch the bottom video. He blocks 1 kid who couldn't have been 5 ft tall. The kid looked like he was in 6th grade.
Camp or AAU competition. Frankly, of all the film I've seen on UM big recruits, other than McGary, this kid has the most upside. Great understanding of floor space and angles and knows how to get a shot off.
That said, no film of him passing out of a double or having to go against a Nerlens Noel type player (which McGary did), nor did they show him running the court. Definitely has some really good instincts and fundamentals around the hoop.
I didn't realize the scholarship situation is so tight
the next two recruiting classes (2014 & 2015) - assuming of course Trey Burke is the only one to leave early. We'll see of course. But, Michigan will need to be pretty selective. Ricky was wise to take the opportunity while it was available. Welcome aboard Mr. Doyle!
"You owe it to every man, woman, and child in the State of Michigan to beat the Buckeyes and silence their fans! Now go out there and make it happen!"
I think his father probably deserves credit tor young Doyle being so fundamentally advanced offensively. This kid does a real good job of keeping the ball up when he catches it, which not only makes it more difficult to strip the ball from him, but also allows for a nice quick release on his jumper.
This is the kind of offer that would make people freak out
Just a few years ago. But Beilein has had such a good track record of finding guys early before they explode I think everyone just expects a big High School finish for the kid. Some post moves would certainly be nice.
Though I still at least want a Robert Parrish to go next to our new Kevin McHale.