we stand on guard for thee
Break out the flag: Michigan's top 2018 hoops target, four-star Canadian wing Ignas "Iggy" Brazdeikis, committed to the Wolverines on Friday night.
“It’s just a perfect fit for me,” Brazdeikis said.
“Even when I was just getting into basketball, Michigan was like a dream school for me,” Brazdeikis added. “It was the first school I knew about. I used to watch them play on TV and look at them and I could always see myself playing for them. Now that the opportunity is here, it’s super nice.”
Brazdeikis is an Ontario native and, yes, he knows Nik Stauskas, who was pleased by the news.
— Nik Stauskas (@NStauskas11) September 22, 2017
This goes here:
Brazdeikis is the fourth commit in Michigan's 2018 class, joining four-star PF Brandon Johns, four-star PG David DeJulius, and three-star big man Taylor Currie. John Beilein and his staff now boast the #5-ranked recruiting class in the country.
4*, #10 SF,
|4* SF||NR SG||
4*, 96, #9 SF,
4*, #19 SF,
Brazdeikis would have a higher composite ranking if he came from the States. Rivals doesn't put foreign players in their numerical rankings unless they play their high school ball in the US; Brazdeikis is at Orangeville Prep in Ontario. Rivals at least gives him a four-star rating; ESPN doesn't bother to even go that far or provide a scouting report.
Meanwhile, the other two sites have him as a top-50 player, and Rivals's Eric Bossi said Brazdeikis would be in the top 40 if they were to rank him. Don't be fooled by the composite ranking; Brazdeikis is closer to fringe five-star status than fringe top-100 status. Endless Motor ranks him as the #29 overall prospect in the class.
A major reason Brazdeikis is so well-regarded is his size: he's listed at 6'8", 220 pounds by every site save Rivals (6'8", 200), but he possesses the offensive skill-set of a shooting guard or small forward.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and the rest.]
Brazdeikis's primary appeal is obvious: he gets buckets. Bossi loves the match between Brazdeikis and Michigan:
“It sure seems like a perfect fit in terms of what he and Michigan do well,” Bossi said. “I think he’s skilled, can score and all that, but I think how tough and how competitive he is has really been kind of undersold and understated at this point.”
Much the way Stauskas’ was after he arrived at Michigan.
Brazdeikis put up a handful of 50-point games this summer and averaged 22.4 points for AAU CIA Bounce. He is a lefty shooter with great range, and though he only made 30 percent of his triples this summer, he’s an outstanding shooter.
“A lot of that is shot selection,” Bossi said. “Also, he’s a scorer. One of those guys that’s going to keep shooting on days that are not going so well for him.
“He’s a very good athlete, knows how to play, and I think he’s a great pick-up.”
At one point this year, Brazdeikis mulled reclassifying to 2017 and entering college this fall. While Brazdeikis decided to stick in 2018, another Rivals national analyst, Corey Evans, believed he would've been an instant-impact player this year:
There sure aren't many better bucket getting forwards around than Ignas Brazdeikis. The 6-foot-8 forward was back at it again on Friday evening destroying his opponents with brutal scoring attacks as he carried his CIA Bounce team further into bracket play.
In recent weeks, there had been talk about a possible reclassification for Brazdeikis. Any program in America would love to add someone like the Canadian, especially this late in the year. If he were to attend college this fall, Brazdeikis is the type of talent that could turn a potential top-25 team into a second week in the NCAA Tournament, or even Final Four squad.
247's SMU outlet went into detail on his game after this summer's Nike Peach Jam, in which he averaged 17.4 points and 7.0 rebounds over five games despite a shooting slump from beyond the arc:
At 6-foot-8 and 220 pounds, Ignas Brazdeikis looks like a forward. But he’s a wing player who has guard skills, which makes for a difficult matchup for opponents. He possesses a good mixture of quickness, handles, shooting ability and length to stick on the wing. Brazdeikis smartly uses his big frame to his advantage against other wings and guards, since he is larger than nearly all of them. He uses his body to create space to get shots and displays impressive body control when scoring around the basket. He’s difficult to stop without fouling him when he gets going toward the basket.
Brazdeikis has the versatile jump shot needed to be a guard. The lefty will shoot coming of screens, off the catch and off the dribble. He projects as a good pick-and-pop player. He has a high release point and has little trouble shooting over other wings. He didn’t shoot that well at Peach Jam, but has the consistent mechanics to be a good shooter. His touch is the one area that could use improvement.
On defense, Brazdeikis’ length and size give him potential especially if he’s guarding other twos and threes. Some quicker, smaller wings and guards can get by him, but he can hold his own on the perimeter vs. bigger wings. His defensive feel is still developing. On the glass, Brazdeikis displays energy and finds a body to box out.
Brazdeikis followed that up by blowing away the Rivals crew at the Adidas National Global event, where he earned a starting spot on their All-World team:
Brazdeikis is a straight bucket-getter and one of the very best scoring forwards that the high school ranks has seen in recent years. He can play the 2-through-4 on the offensive end, but much of the discussion about Brazeikis has centered on whether he will reclassify. Last month, the Canadian stated that he will remain in his original 2018 class and, with that now behind us, we can further appreciate just how good he has become. Brazdeikis is nearing five-star status and made his argument for that ranking even stronger in Houston where he averaged over 22 points, five rebounds and three assists.
His knack for drawing contact on drives helped, er, drive that production:
A 6-foot-7, elite scoring wing that can play the 2-through-4 on the offensive end, it seems like a safe bet that Ignas Brazdeikis will be productive in college. He averaged over 25 points and got to the line close to 10 times per game in Houston. His ability to find the smallest of holes to drive and then finish is special.
Scout's Brian Snow believes Michigan will be able to rein in Brazdeikis's aggression to help make him a more efficient scorer:
Brazdeikis can score it in a variety of ways. He is assertive with the ball, getting to the foul line often, and also he attacks the rim as well as shoots it from mid-range. Overall Brazdeikis 49 percent from the floor and 74 percent from the foul line. He did only connect on 27 percent of his three point shots, but in time it is likely that he develops into a better shooter from deep.
Now there is no doubt that Brazdeikis will have to reign himself in some at the college level, as he isn't super efficient with the dribble and can shoot the ball a lot, sometimes not in the function of a refined system. With that said it is a lot easier to make a kid slow down some on the offensive end instead of make them more assertive.
Snow mentions that power forward may be Brazdeikis's ideal position on defense, which could get tricky with Brandon Johns—who's very much a power forward—also in the class. That said, there are much worse problems than being oversized on defense, especially given the matchup problems they should present on the other end of the floor.
Finally, UMHoops has a detailed breakdown (with video) of Brazdeikis's strengths and weaknesses available to subscribers. Yes, you should sign up. Notably, Dylan lists his "developing ball screen ability" as a strength:
Brazdeikis has shown flashes of playmaking ability in the pick and roll game, especially at the Adidas Nations event at the end of this summer. He’s comfortable using ball screens to drive and slash to the rim, but his passing ability in the ball screen game is still a work in progress. He hasn’t posted big assist totals and will need to continue to work to involve his teammates.
Michigan needed a pure scoring wing in this class and got one of the best in the country in Brazdeikis. If he can refine his outside shot and further develop his repertoire off the high screen, he has the potential to be a 20-point-per-game player at the Big Ten level. This is one of the most exciting commitments John Beilein has landed, especially given his apparent fit in the system.
Brazdeikis chose Michigan over fellow finalists Florida and Vanderbilt. He also held offers from Baylor, Cal, Cincinnati, UConn, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Memphis, Oklahoma, Oregon, Seton Hall, SMU, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, and USC, among a few others.
Playing for the Canadian AAU squad CIA Bounce in this year's Nike EYBL, Brazdeikis averaged 21.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 2.5 turnovers in 20 games, going 125/219 (57.1%) on two-pointers, 21/79 (26.6%) on three-pointers, and 100/136 (73.5%) on free throws.
Rivals video from the Adidas Nations tourney:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan is going to have a couple starting spots on the wing open up when Muhammed-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson graduate after this season. Brazdeikis and Brandon Johns will both be candidates to fill Robinson's spot from day one (they'll compete with freshman Isaiah Livers), and Brazdeikis has the positional flexibility to even step into MAAR's spot.
Regardless of how it initially works out, it shouldn't take long for Brazdeikis to see significant playing time, especially if Moe Wagner leaves early for the pros and Michigan has to replace his significant scoring load. As he gets more comfortable operating in the ball screen game, he could quickly become the centerpiece of the offense. If his outside shot clicks, he's a five-star talent in Beilein's system.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is technically full for 2018-19, but they're recruiting with attrition in mind and will definitely take another 2018 prospect. They'll host #1 overall prospect RJ Barrett, who's both an obvious longshot and an obvious take no matter what, for an official visit this weekend. Four-star FL big man Colin Castleton, who surprisingly just narrowed his list to Illinois and Michigan, will also be in on an official, and the coaches could be looking at the stretch forward as a Wagner replacement. Michigan is in good position with sharpshooter Noah Locke, who visited last week, and they'll host NY SG Adrien Nunez this weekend.
Castleton and Locke appear to be the most likely candidates to fill one last spot. It's also not out of the realm of possibility that Michigan could create a second opening by asking Taylor Currie to re-reclassify back to the 2019 class; that could be the plan in the unlikely event Barrett wants to be a part of the class.
Here's the class as it currently stands: