Hoops: Johns To Michigan, Nance To Northwestern
If you missed it yesterday, Michigan picked up a commitment from East Lansing four-star Brandon Johns, who could be a day-one starter at power forward for the Wolverines. The pace of basketball recruiting has picked up in a major way, and this commitment looks like it's going to tip a couple more dominoes.
Fast-rising Belleville wing Gabe Brown, a potential backup plan for Michigan's top choices, committed to Michigan State a couple weeks ago—perhaps a sign MSU knew where it stood with Johns. Shortly after Johns committed, four-star OH wing Pete Nance, who was expected to take an official visit to Ann Arbor this weekend and likely commit, pledged to Northwestern; to be clear, this was not a case of Michigan passing on a prospect after landing their top target—they still wanted Nance even though he's had an underwhelming spring.
This afternoon another in-state spring standout, Grand Rapid Catholic Central four-star PF Marcus Bingham, also pledged to the Spartans. Meanwhile, Michigan is hosting three-star NC wing Hunter Tyson on an unofficial visit today, and he's an offer candidate with Nance off the board.
Michigan currently has two open spots in the 2018 class with point guard David DeJulius also in the fold. With Beilein now recruiting with attrition in mind it's likely they'll bring in a five-man class. They'd like to take another combo forward—top candidates include Jerome Hunter, Ignas Brazdeikis, and Tyson—and a shooting guard, where they've zeroed in on Noah Locke (Tyson could also be a fit there but a recent growth spurt got him to 6'7", so that may not be ideal).
That third spot in the class could go to another wing—the pipe dream is a Hunter/Brazdeikis haul—but a rumor emerged from The Michigan Insider mod DOTMAN this morning that could change those plans: big man Taylor Currie, currently a 2019 commit, says he's reclassifying to 2018. That gives Michigan insurance against Moe Wagner departing early for the NBA; it also means they'll likely only be able to grab one of the highly touted combo forwards. While that kills the pipe dream, Michigan isn't the outright leader for either player; Scout's Brian Snow has mentioned that Hunter may be a Xavier lean, and there's plenty of competition for Brazdeikis, who isn't expected to decide any time soon.
There are a number of possibilities, and as Nance's surprise commitment to Northwestern yesterday shows, it's tough to confidently predict any one outcome.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Post-Camp Updates: Thomas, Cain, Gray
Switching gears to football, Michigan added their first 2019 commit last weekend in four-star IMG ILB Charles Thomas, and that pledge could help the Wolverines with their top target at running back. Five-star IMG RB Noah Cain was also on campus for last weekend's camps, and while he has a long way to go in his recruitment, he told Sam Webb that the visit cemented Michigan among his top contenders:
With over 18 months still to go before he enrolls early in the school of his choice, there’s plenty of time to thoroughly vet all his options. That’s why he won’t even announce a top five until next spring.
“I have a pretty good idea of who my top schools will be and for me, just being at Michigan (for three days), knowing the great alumni base, Michigan will probably be one of those,” said Noah. “Just from being around Coach Underwood and him telling me all the great things about this University, the fan base, the rich alumni, all the famous people that went here… for me to be able to jump into that fire and be a part of that would be awesome.”
Cain told MLive's Matt Wenzel he already has a return trip planned:
Looking back on the visit, Cain raved about the facilities, the trainers and support staff. For a prospect with more than 20 offers, including Ohio State, LSU, Miami, Nebraska and Oklahoma, he left Ann Arbor impressed with the Wolverines.
"They definitely went up on my list," said Cain, who plans on returning to Michigan for the game against Ohio State on Nov. 25. "Everything I expected, they just doubled that."
Another class of 2019 back, four-star TN APB Eric Gray, reportedly had an outstanding showing in drills—at 5'10", 185, he's in the Chris Evans mold. He holds an offer from Michigan and told Webb that the Wolverines are now in his top two:
Soon after camp concluded Gray announced that Michigan had joined Tennessee as the programs sticking out early his growing list of suitors. Those just happen to be the two schools he visited most recently.
“Michigan is very high on my list,” Gray Jr. said. “At first I didn't really know a lot about Michigan because they are so far away from me. I was like, ‘man, going all the way up to Michigan… it's cold up there. I don't know.’ But now, Michigan is very high on my list because their facilities are amazing and the coaching staff is good. I got to talk to the offensive coordinator and it was just a great time. “
Gray is the nephew of former Ohio State RB Maurice Hall and grew up a fan of the Buckeyes. He told Webb he would've committed to OSU if they'd offered him this spring; that didn't come to pass, and now Gray appears quite open to joining up with the rival squad.
More Camp Stuff: Belleville Kids, Impact Fullback, and More
The top 2019 in-state prospect, Belleville lineman Devontae Dobbs, has been oddly cool towards Michigan throughout his recruitment. Last weekend, the coaches made sure to let him know he's a major priority. While Dobbs got the message, he still seems lukewarm at best on the Wolverines, based on his quotes to Webb:
“I feel like now that they know about me they started to prioritize me,” said Dobbs. “But at first it was like they didn’t know me.”
One might say that the two sides didn’t really know each other, but the effort to change that is now clearly underway. While Dobbs isn’t publicly claiming any favorites, the belief that Michigan has more work ahead of it to make the eventual cut is pretty reasonable.
“(Michigan is) pretty neutral with all the other schools," said Dobbs.
"I feel like I learned more about Michigan on this trip. I feel like my opinion is still the same (though)."
Missing out on a possible five-star right in the backyard would be a tough blow, but at least there's plenty of in-state talent on the line in the 2019 class beyond Dobbs. Meanwhile, Dobbs's high school teammate, 2019 four-star WR/CB Julian Barnett, left his weekend visit without an offer, though he at least said he enjoyed the trip.
One 2019 lineman who looks like a strong candidate to commit is four-star OH OT Nolan Rumler, a longtime Michigan lean who told TMI's Brice Marich last weekend's visit—seemingly his umpteenth to Ann Arbor—was his best yet:
“It was the greatest visit I’ve had,” Rumler told The Michigan Insider. “I spent almost the whole day with Coach Drevno, met players, got a campus tour, learned about the academics and spent time with Coach Tolbert.”
Rumler isn't hiding his preference: he said Michigan is number one on his list.
Four-star 2019 IL OT Trevor Keegan earned a camp offer despite having a cast on one arm, and this one falls in the "dream offer" category, per The Wolverine's Brandon Brown:
"It’s a crazy feeling," he said. "My mom’s side of the family is all from Michigan and are all Michigan fans. It’s like a big tradition in my family. I definitely grew up a Michigan fan — I grew up watching them since I was like three or four. It’s awesome — it’s surreal."
Keegan added, "I won’t quite say that Michigan is my flat out leader but they are way up there."
Finally, 247's Isaiah Hole reports that 2019 IMG prospect Zac Smith, who worked out as a defensive end at the Big Man camp, is the extremely rare player who's looking to be recruited as a fullback:
I spoke with 2019 Brandenton (FL) IMG Academy FB Zac Smith, who participated in Saturday's Big Man Big House Camp as a defensive end. Smith told Wolverine247 at the camp that his preference is to play fullback, and that he currently reps 225 lbs. 28 times, with a max of 345. He showed off his ability, winning fastest man overall in the 30 yard dash, and won 3 of the 4 strength components in the camp.
He may even transfer from IMG, which is shifting to a spread offense, so he can focus on the position. It's hard to think this does anything but greatly help Michigan's chances.
Scout unveiled their 2019 top 125. Michigan targets are a strong presence on the list, but the lone commit, Charles Thomas, missed the cut.
Michigan offered 2019 four-star dual-threat QB Michael Johnson Jr., whom you may remember as the son of the coach Harbaugh briefly hired before he chose to take a spot on Willie Taggert's Oregon staff instead.
Happy trails to 2018 four-star RB Mychale Salahuddin, who committed to USC.