Basketball: What Now?

Submitted by Brian on March 22nd, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Yesterday's rapture of three players and near-rapture of Trey Burke takes Michigan from set on players for years to scramble mode. Even if Burke returns—

—Michigan has two open scholarships for now or 2013 and a third that could go to a grad-year transfer. Options? There are some.

Amedeo Della Valle


The 6'5" combo guard from Italy out of Findlay Prep in Nevada. Michigan made his top five despite not officially offering and Beilein's checking him out in person today. He's not ranked highly but has offers from Arizona, Ohio State, and Gonzaga, three of the other teams in his top five. (Texas A&M is the other team. They are not good at basketball.) He's not highly ranked but if he's actually got offers from those three teams and UCLA, UConn, and USC he's a best-case scenario as far as talent Michigan can add to the roster.

Is he a point guard? He thinks so.

Della Valle is a natural point guard, but with Dominic Artis and Nigel Williams-Goss entrenched in the Findlay backcourt, he’s been playing out of position a bit. Moreover, with Bennett injured, Della Valle has been defending bigger players.

It’s given him the chance to demonstrate his versatility.

“I can play the one and the two,” Della Valle said. “I can defend combo guards.”

Della Valle is taking his time with a decision, and said he will likely choose a school until April. There are no favorites, and no other visits planned just yet.

“I want to play right away,” he said. “I also want a great coach. And style of play is important.”

I get the vibe Michigan is in strong position with Della Valle but am simultaneously suspicious of my instinct. There was a random guy on the Rivals board saying he had some inside info and Michigan would get him if they pushed hard. So that's totally solid.

Spike Albrecht


Albrecht is the kid with the ball.

That's not a protest sign directed at a Swiss alderman, it's a person. Sam Webb mentioned a point guard from Indiana spending a prep year in the same league Stauskas and McGary are in; though he didn't mention a name Albrecht fits the profile and is undoubtedly the player in question.

Albrecht is from Crown Point, Indiana—the heart of Michigan recruiting—and a former member of the SYF AAU squad that has provided Michigan with Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary. He took a post-grad year in an effort to get a major scholarship. He's still looking for one. He put up 23 points in the prep school AAA championship game after defeating Mitch McGary's heavily favored Brewster squad (link is to full game)  and was named the tourney MVP. He's got a couple kids going to D-I schools on his team (Vermont, Harvard, Dartmouth) but still seems to be his team's go-to guy. As of October Albrecht was getting interest from Vermont and MAC schools; he's not rated and is variously listed anywhere from 5'11" to 6'2", with the shorter end of that scale being more realistic.

Highlights? Highlights.

He is not large but does seem to have the wild double-clutch reverse layup game that you have to have if you're going to be a guy that size playing college basketball. We'd be totally boned if we had to start him next year and he's not likely to beat out Derrick Walton but he might be a solid rotation guy.

BONUS: his team is nicknamed the "Hoggers." 

Random High Profile Uncommitted Dude

There are some uncommitted fellows with four stars at various recruiting services but with none of them listing Michigan it's doubtful they can get seriously involved. It is distantly possible they could hop on a guy like Darrick Wood, who is #104 at Rivals, plays at a New England prep school, and only shows an offer from St. John's… a school he already decommitted from. That is a name I picked off a list and nothing else.


With coach-firing season comes potential defections. Illinois has jettisoned Bruce Weber and will not reload with Shaka Smart. Could Michigan pirate one of their recruits? They do have a three-star PG named Michael Orris out of Crete-Monee (also the high school of LaQuon Treadwell). As of a couple weeks ago this was his status($):

"Absolutely," Orris said, when asked if he still planned to suit up for the Orange and Blue next season. "It changes a lot because (Weber) was the man that recruited me, someone I developed an amazing relationship with, but I've signed a letter of intent to Illinois. As of now, that's where I'm going."

It's a longshot, but not completely off the table. Illinois also has an unranked 6-foot shooting guard with one other offer from North Dakota State committed as a preferred walk-on. He's not likely to draw interest.

Nebraska also dumped its coach recently, and unlike Illinois they've got a number of commits. Unfortunately, none are geographically proximate and most are JUCOs. They do have a 5'8" three-star PG out of Kansas City and a 6'4" shooting guard out of Kansas. No one has gotten an "I'm still committed" quote.

This is also the category in which grad-year transfers might be explored. I have no idea if there's a Brandon Wood out there for Michigan this year, but if there is Michigan should take him without blinking. FWIW, UConn's Alex Oriakhi has announced he will transfer and will be immediately eligible as long as UConn's APR-related suspension is upheld. Unfortunately he's a 6'9" center who Michigan doesn't really need.


If Burke returns Michigan doesn't really need anything except maybe a backup point. They could bank a scholarship or two and try to add to their 2013 class with a Bo Ziegler or other guys. It's about 90% likely that Michigan does not fill both slots, I'd say.

Since he'll have to sit out a year, Trey Ziegler counts as air, BTW. Not that it seems like there's anything going on there.

Let's Feel Better About Things

Man, is Mark Donnal going to be a tough matchup in Beilein's offense.

Love the skill level, and he seems like he's got decent athleticism. Also, Derrick Walton is gooooood.



March 22nd, 2012 at 12:03 PM ^

I think I'll wait till I see he's not Evan 2.0. Seems similar in a guy who will be a real good senior, but better shut off his twitter account if he plays his first few years.

And I was going to ask why you picked that picture of Amedeo instead of something more flattering....but he's an interesting looking dude. Love the hair.

Kilgore Trout

March 22nd, 2012 at 12:04 PM ^

I haven't seen much talk of this, but I'm disappointed that Beilein is limiting Brudidge's transfer options.  It's not as bad as the St. Joe's or DeAnthony Arnett situations, but I would expect better out of Beilein and U of M.  It just comes off as petty.


March 22nd, 2012 at 12:20 PM ^

I'm ok with this for the initial release.  If Brundidge has a compelling reason why he NEEDS to go to one of those schools I'm sure Beilein would listen.  As is, its completely fair for Beilein to want him to look at other schools first. 


March 22nd, 2012 at 12:46 PM ^

Someone to transfer within the Big Ten? I guess you can think that's petty, but it's a pretty good policy to not be having your league coaches poach other teams players AFTER they've arrived on campus. Which is basically what they're saying. I guess there's a handful of mid-majors already scheduled that may qualify too, but I don't see what the big deal is. He can go anywhere he wants if he pays his own way.

Kilgore Trout

March 22nd, 2012 at 1:05 PM ^

1, it's different from the B1G rule in that this seems to be absolute, not limited to paying their own way.

1a, I still think that rule is silly.  It's more of the one sided advantage for the schools that exist in college sports. The same arguments that came up in the DeAnthony Arnett situation apply. Could you imagine UM's Engineering department being able to block a scholarship student from transferring to somewhere that competed against UM for grants? 

2. "I don't see what the big deal is. He can go anywhere he wants if he pays his own way. " If you thought the same thing when UM was trying to get DeAnthony Arnett and Tennessee wouldn't release him, more power to you.  If Bowling Green had a graduate transfer that UM wanted to play PG next year, would you be fine with BG saying he couldn't come here because UM is on their schedule?  I just think, in general, opinions change dependent on how it affects the team you cheer for. 


March 22nd, 2012 at 1:22 PM ^

like another poster said. If he has a reason, like Arnett, then he should be allowed to go to a specific school. In addition, he really had no good reason to leave Michigan, other than as a true freshman, he believes he deserves more playing time.



March 22nd, 2012 at 2:25 PM ^

And I don't know, but I'm not even sure that is possible. You can not release him from a scholarship agreement, but you can't force someone to stay in your school. Someone has probably analyzed the fine print of a letter of commitment, but I'm not sure you can say a guy can't walk on at another school...only say that the school can't pay his way. If you could do that, there's no way we'd have let Boren go to OSU if we could have prevented it.

And with 4 year scholarships now becoming the norm (in football at least), I'm not sure making sure players aren't transferring willy nilly is a bad idea for the sport, the players, or the programs. And while you can't stop it across the country, it's not a bad idea to not have your own coaches trying to poach your own league's players from each other.

If you want to say anyone you play sounds excessive...I might basically agree...I just don't know how many teams we play that are for sure on the schedule that aren't already in the Big Ten. Arnett is Apples and Oranges, because 1. he left because of an illness to a family member, not because he just wanted to play more, and 2. Dooley wasn't allowing him to go to anyone they recruit against, or specifically Michigan or MSU, even though neither program is on U-T's schedule. That's a big difference. And going back to the original point, even in that case he could still go to either or any school if he was willing to pay his own way...he just couldn't.


If I wanted to attend The University of Michigan and Michigan State University then I would have to pay for school instead of be on the Scholorship

And though "graduate transfers" might be outside the realm of this case, if someone wanted to transfer from Bowling Green, and could play NEXT YEAR, and wanted to come to us (or a program playing them that year), then yeah, I don't really have a problem with them saying "we'll let you go if you want, but we're not going to have you turn around and meet you on the field/court/ice next year".  Frankly, while Arnett's family situation should let him be released, if he was from Georgia I don't think it's that wrong that they don't want him to go to the Bulldogs, and either way I don't think family circumstances as a reason means he still should have to sit out a year...whether he was coming to Michigan, MSU, Georgia, or Whattsamatta U.

I'd be all for where in situations where it's like CMU where the coach leaves or gets fired the players could freely transfer without sitting out, because then we'd be holding coaches and and programs to similar standards, and make them consider the risks. But letting players basically become free agents who can transfer wherever and whenever they want just sets up chaos, and turns it even more to a pro sport and not institutions of education. 



March 22nd, 2012 at 12:25 PM ^

frankly, i don't think that limiting where a kid can transfer is a good idea absent extraordinary circumstances.  and since his release is very restrictive, i don't think it's fair.  i'd like to see the university reverse course and give him a less restrictive release.


March 22nd, 2012 at 12:06 PM ^

we hope yesterday's news does not reflect a deeper problem with the Michigan basketball program.  Players don't jump ship in bunches from a basketball team.  You look at every major basketball program in America and there are "bench warmers" that stay four years, practice, earn a degree, and call it a great experience.  The fact that 3 players including a player that does not even come close to qualifying as a bench warmer chose to jump ship is alarming, i think more so than the consensus would indicate.


March 22nd, 2012 at 12:28 PM ^

You say that if we look at every major basketball program in America and there are bench warmers that stay four years, practice, and earn a degree and call it a great experience.

Where is your data?  I think you are making an observation based on what you already think and not based on any real data analysis.  Michigan has people who fit that bill now, Josh Bartelstein, Corey Person, Eso Akunne, to name the ones I can pick out easily from this year.

Here is a link with the list of players who transferred after the 2007-8 season, I count 109 transfers from what I think we would consider schools that are typically known basketball names that made the tourney this year or are in one of the Big 6 "power conferences".

I'm not saying that this might reflect other things, but rather it appears to me to be a more common occurence than you are implying in your comment.



March 22nd, 2012 at 12:45 PM ^

Transfers are extremely common in college basketball:

Starting with the introduction of the Academic Progress Rate, coaches have been responsible for retaining the players they recruit. Despite that, the transfer rate for men’s basketball has risen steadily over the last decade, surpassing 10 percent of players annually according to the most recent numbers. Another study finds that 40 percent of scholarship basketball players transfer by the start of their junior year.

Source: a Jan. 2012 article titled Enough (Recruiting) Is Enough


March 22nd, 2012 at 12:08 PM ^

My crude response after watching one highlight video: Donnal is [Insert name of trasnferring 4 whose name I don't care to type right now] with athleticism.


March 22nd, 2012 at 12:14 PM ^

Watched the basketball highlights on mute while the Smiths played.

Please Please Please let the 5'11 PG makes his free-throws.  YES!



March 22nd, 2012 at 12:17 PM ^

Seen this movie before.  Do not like it.  Just hope Burke stays.  Also really really hope he does not get hurt or implode a la Hardaway or I'll feel really guilty about the whole thing.  Give us at least another year, then go do your thing.  Win-win. 

El Jeffe

March 22nd, 2012 at 12:21 PM ^

I was impressed with Donnal, having not followed his recruitment too closely. He kinda seems like a 15% less athletic Tyler Hansbrough, which would be sweet.


March 22nd, 2012 at 12:22 PM ^

I get that there's not much happening there, but I'm curious about Brian's statement that he would have to sit out a year.  Doesn't the NCAA allow exceptions when issues related to family are afoot?  What could be more familial than your father being fired by your school. 


March 22nd, 2012 at 2:20 PM ^

that it shouldn't matter if the school fires your coach after all that happens hourly in college sports and athletes should be on notice that it can happen.  However, when it's your father that changes things.  I don't know about anyone else,  but I wouldn't want to be near an organization that fired my father or mother.  That's human nature.  To expect a kid to play for the guy who's replacing a parent is a bit much, and if the NCAA doesn't have an exception for something like that, it should.


March 22nd, 2012 at 2:26 PM ^

Well, I agree with your main point, but I disagree that a coach being fired/going to a better job isn't a reason to leave a school. The coaches make millions (literally) and regularly go to better opportunities for themselves. See Lane Kiffin, Nick Saban, and others who have absolutely ditched programs for personal benefit. They have no restrictions and they get paid for their troubles. While a kid who helps generate all that revenue is under the whim of a millionaire coach who can bolt at any notice for any reason? Seems a little hypocritical, no?



March 22nd, 2012 at 2:39 PM ^

My point is that the NCAA has a rule that says you have to sit out when you transfer even if it's because your coach leaves.  It might be fair to revisit that rule, but at least any high school senior is, or at least should be, on notice that there's a reasonable chance that the coach that's recruiting him or her, won't be there four years hence AND that the rules say you're stuck even if the coach leaves.  When it's a familial firing, I think we agree that the rule should be waived. 


March 22nd, 2012 at 12:53 PM ^

He reminds me of Jon Leuer, former Badger, a guy who can do "big man" things but also hit the outside shot.   This makes me happy...As for  Della Valle, he's already my favorite wig-wearing basketball player.