Hoops Hello: Isaiah Livers Comment Count

Ace August 7th, 2016 at 6:22 PM

Four-star 2017 Kalamazoo Central forward Isaiah Livers, who picked up offers last month from Michigan and Michigan State, committed to the Wolverines this afternoon.

Livers is the third commit in the 2017 class, joining point guard Eli Brooks and shooting guard Jordan Poole. Listed at around 6'8", 205, he projects as a 3/4 in John Beilein's system.


Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
3* SF 3* PF, #114 Ovr 4*, 84, #10 PF,
#69 Ovr
3*, 89, #31 PF,
#136 Ovr
4*, #24 PF,
#120 Ovr

Livers is towards the tail end of four-star territory on the 247 Composite, and is in fact considered a four-star only by ESPN, which ranks him considerably higher than the other three sites. He did touch four-star status on Rivals at one point and is only three spots away as he currently stands there.


ESPN's evaluation was updated a couple weeks ago. It sure makes Livers sound like a Beilein four:

Livers is a undersized stretch power forward with very good perimeter shooting skill especially from 17-20 feet off the catch or rhythm dribble. He is versatile and can be a difficult match up on the perimeter for less mobile power forwards.

In addition to adding strength Livers to become more of a physical presence he will also need to put together a low post scoring package to go along with his perimeter scoring ability.

Bottom Line:
Livers skill and shot making on the perimeter make him a major college forward. He must continue to add to his game but he has excellent upside.

Rivals bumped him into four-star territory in March, noting his ability to run out and finish on the break:

Of the new four-stars on our list, Livers is one of the least known outside of his home state. We haven’t seen him as much as some other players, but he’s capable of knocking down a 15-footer, can finish with the best of them in transition and he checks all the boxes of a guy who could have a huge breakout this spring.

TodaysU posted a brief report from this spring's EYBL praising Livers's motor:

Playing on a loaded Mean Streets team, Livers made a great impression in the Nike EYBL Brooklyn showcase. He works extremely hard at both ends of the floor and is active in the post. His stock is most certainly on the rise.

Minnesota was one of the programs making a push for Livers, and their Scout outlet posted an extensive scouting report from July's Vegas Classic:

Livers is a long 6-foot-8 player that has been working hard on his perimeter touch.  He’s hit 37 plus percent from the arc in EYBL and against UBC the long forward sunk a trey in the corner and another at the top of the key.  Livers is becoming a more confident shooter with his feet and his one-dribble pull-up jumper looks strong as well.  Also had a passing lane jump that he pushed the other way moving through traffic and producing a finger roll.

Isaiah looks like a defender that can defend multiple positions.  First off, Isaiah has really good length and he uses that length well.  Players had trouble getting looks over the top of him and his hands up in the passing lanes led to three deflections.  Also, this is a guy that seems to love to make strong box-out hits.  Once a shot goes up Livers turns to locate, makes a stiff forearm contact, and then holds his man well after making the initial hit.  Also does a very good job getting over in help to use that length. 

There's a lot to like here. Livers looks like a better, more natural outside shooter than most of the players Beilein has brought in at the four, and quite possibly a better and more versatile defender too. While his ballhandling isn't really mentioned, he shouldn't need to create off the bounce too often given the talent around him. There's a lot to like here.


Livers had previously planned to take officials to Butler, Cal, and Michigan State before his Michigan commitment. Each of those schools offered, as well as Akron, Boston College, Cornell, Creighton, DePaul, Detroit, Kent State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Oakland, Toledo, VCU, Western Michigan, and Xavier. New assistant coach Saddi Washington, who'd recruited Livers when he was at Detroit, played a significant role in landing this commitment.


Livers played with the Illinois-based AAU squad MeanStreets alongside fellow M targets Brian Bowen and Nojel Eastern this spring, and he posted strong numbers. In 20 games on the Nike circuit, Livers averaged 9.4 points and 5.2 rebounds (1.1 offensive) in 23 minutes per game with 18 assists, 30 turnovers, 17 steals, and 12 blocks; he shot 57% from two, 37% from three, and 54% from the line.


Junior highlights:

Nike EYBL highlights:


While Livers could potentially defend both threes and fours (which function the same in Beilein's offense), his combination of length and rebounding should keep him mostly at the four at Michigan. Livers should find his way into the rotation at that spot early on in his career. Even if DJ Wilson emerges as a viable option at the four this season, Livers could see plenty of time as a backup before stepping into the starting lineup as a junior—Beilein will find minutes for a wing with scoring touch who can guard opposing power forwards.


If Michigan sticks to the current roster, which lists Mark Donnal as a senior even though he has two years of eligibility remaining, then they still have one scholarship open for the 2017 class. They'll most likely look to add another wing, and they currently have offers out to Brian Bowen, Kris Wilkes, Jamal Cain, and Nojel Eastern, with Justin Smith possibly in line to get an offer. Livers's commitment likely takes Kyle Young, who holds an offer and projects as a four in Beilein's system, off the board.


turd ferguson

August 7th, 2016 at 6:43 PM ^

An interesting, odd fact about Beilein's recruiting... there has been basically no correlation between his recruits' ratings and their contributions to Michigan basketball.  I grabbed the rating of every Beilein recruit at Michigan (at the time of their commitment, if possible) and then did my best to rate each guy based on how much he did / looks like he will do at Michigan.  The correlation was very close to 0 (like <0.1).  It's just very hard to know what his guys will do based on their ratings.

turd ferguson

August 7th, 2016 at 7:18 PM ^

I could be wrong about this, and someone should correct me if I am, but I think we have one spot left if the plan is still for this to be Donnal's last season at UM.

The scholarship limit is 13.  I count 12 guys with a scholarship committed to them for 2017-18: MAAR, Robinson, Wagner, Wilson, Matthews, Simpson, Teske, Davis, Watson, Poole, Brooks, Livers.  Donnal is eligible for 2017-18 but the plan is supposedly for him to finish his UM career this spring.


August 8th, 2016 at 7:49 AM ^

thing may frustrate me depending on his play.  There were moments when he was coming into his own.  He was Kevin Love-esque against Maryland and seemed to get more confidence with his shot and stretch the floor later in the season.  What if this continues?  What if he is a solid 12 and 8 guy next year?  I don't think it should become policy to give every fifth year their walking papers.  Just stop redshirting at all if that is the case.


August 8th, 2016 at 1:19 PM ^

1.  Michigan can take another 3/4 wing and let he and Livers duke it out.

2.  Michigan can push Matthews or Robinson out to the 4.  That's the Irvin/Novak model that's worked for M.

Robinson would be such an asset to this team if he could put up a fight against 4s.  His offensive duties are minimal (unlike say Irvin) and it wouldn't be asking too much of him. He has the size, his athleticism would be less of a liability than it is against 3s.  It's a matter of strength, toughness, and willingness.

Matthews is undersized for the job - but so were Irvin/Novak, and he has athleticism and speed to make up for it (a la GR3) and a year to gain strength.I know everyone has Matthews down as a 2/3 but if you look at the returning personnel and Beilein's track record....the bet here is they end up playing small. Especially if Teske is the shot-blocker we all hope he can be.

[All of this assumes Wilson is nothing more than a backup.  He would be option 3: if he hits his ceileing that solves a lot of M's issues. I see him as more of a placeholder a la Donnal, but I couldn't let him go unmentioned.]


August 8th, 2016 at 1:24 PM ^

PG:  Simpson/Brooks

2G:  Watson/Rahkman/Poole

WF:  Robinson/Watson/Cain*

WF:  Matthews/Livers/Wilson

C:  Teske/Davis/Wilson


I'm assuming Donnal (unrenewed 5th) and Wagner (NBA or Europe) will not return. I'm assuming Rhakman will transition into and embrace a 6th man role where he can excel as a ball-dominant primary scorer against 2nd units.

*or other wing recruit


August 8th, 2016 at 3:55 PM ^

1.  MAAR started because Caris was hurt. He needs the ball in his hands to be most effective, and that makes more sense with the second unit where there is more opportunity.  He's a high character kid who will do what's best for the team. I could see him being named captain, taking the 'demotion' without complaint.  LIkely a win-win for player and team. This depends on a lot of things happening, but with Matthews, Poole, Watson in the pipeline competition for the ball will be fierce.

2.  Foreign kids aren't as tied to the 4-year college paradigm. I think Wagner will look at it more from the perspective of a soccer player who moves up to his level of competition as warranted, rather than pro/amateur dichotomy we have in the US.  Ezram Lorbek (who played at MSU in 2002 and is now trying to make the Spurs after a long European career) is an example.

Wagner's been groomed for pro basketball player and already has experience in Germany's highest league. He is being watched very closely. Now that he's developed physically and poised for a breakout year - there will be opportunities for him (be they in Europe or NBA: TBD)... The NCAA is at the appropriate level for Wagner right now, but after 1 more season he'll likely be ready for a higher level. I do believe he'll get NBA interest FWIW.

All this is speculation on my part, obviously, but I would be slightly surprised if Wagner was back for another year.  I expect him to show enough this season to get opportunities elsewhere.  The degree can't hold as much weight for him because he can always go back and get that in Germany.


August 8th, 2016 at 4:02 PM ^

say.  Those are two very good answers.  Personally, I expect MAAR to start the remainder of his career.  However, I think I see a little more potential with him than you do.  I think it was you who I discussed this with before.  I see him as an uncanny scorer and a potential All BIG player by the time he graduates.  I don't think you think that much of him. (As a player that is, not as an all person/teammate, etc.)


August 8th, 2016 at 4:47 PM ^

but I just don't see his talent level as being high enough to be a starting lead guard on championship-caliber team. He's also not at his best as a complementary player, as teams prefer sagging off him, he doesn't create for others, and his defense wasn't the difference-making sort that we wanted to see before last season. 

I could be wrong, and the improvement in 3 point shooting and turnovers we saw last year is reason to think I will be.

Still - I think everyone is best served if MAAR becomes something like Michigan's version of Manu Ginobili.


August 8th, 2016 at 6:17 PM ^

But since we don't have GR3, Matthews might be the best available option. Matthews would have to gain about 10 pounds to be viable, and 20 to thrive.

Irvin and Novak (and even GR3) didn't come here to play the 4 either.  Sometimes that's how it works out.  Best case scenario for Michigan would be if Duncan Robinson could bulk up and start rebounding a bit.


August 7th, 2016 at 9:24 PM ^

I watched a lot of tape of him a couple of months ago and while that's a poor substitute for seeing a kid live a few things stand out

1. Very athletic

2. He has a comfortable off (left) hand around the basket. {One of my concerms with Kam Chatman was that he had no right hand. I saw him live, however, and never got his HS ranking. One (known to this board) expert told me "I don't see him, either, but our west coast scouts love him."}

3. Unlike more than half the rated players I watch, he has an actual jump shot. That is, he jumps to shoot as opposed to jumping as a part of the shot.

4. His shot mechanics are fine. He is comfortable from mid-range. Plainly, he has worked on shooting from the paint, from distance.

5. His handle is acceptable for a 6' 8" guy.

So with the major caveat that I have not seem him live, I think this is a good choice.



August 8th, 2016 at 12:43 PM ^

between a set shot and jump shot. Livers jumps, has the ability to get over traffic, and then releases. The vast majority of players shoot as they jump, on their way up with the ball, That's not really a jump shot and implies a lower release. In turn, it implies the need for more space or a quicker release. THJ had an actual jump shot so he could most always get a good look, even if the offensive set had unraveled.  Livers should be able to decent looks (say) at the end of the shot clock at  6' 8" and with a JS and high release point,

Plus, I like his release mechanics.

I have questions, because the tapes don't show many aspects of his game. But what is shown and what I saw before (forget about the ball going in) I like.



Pepto Bismol

August 8th, 2016 at 10:06 AM ^

I really don't wanna be a downer here, but I have to throw a couple things out there.

First, happy to get an in-state 4-star from MSU.  Good stuff.

However, his offer list is poop.  If you don't count us, he's got an MSU offer and then absolutely nobody else of consequence.  Who's the next best offer?  VCU?  Boston College?  Are MSU and Michigan the only two who have found this guy? 

If this were football and he had a Michigan/MSU offer along with a bunch of regional mid-majors and Ivy schools, we'd scoff and talk about how he's probably not really a "take" and make half-cooked predictions about how he'll probably get "Swenson'ed". 

But this is a basketball recruit...


Other beef:  I saw a highlight reel that consisted of about 57 mid-to-long-range jump shots over the course of 3 games.  The only basket in the paint in the whole damn video was a breakaway dunk.  All last year we watched 4 guys dick around the perimeter and jab-step and feign an attempt at penetration in search of the least-shitty way to jack up a three.  Judging by this 3-minute video, Livers appears to be a perfect fit.

I hope he's very very good.  I don't want Beilein fired.  But I do grow frustrated with Michigan's refusal to play in the paint, and watching a 6'8" forward settle for pull-up threes over high school guards doesn't leave me warm and fuzzy.  Nobody in the B1G allows any Michigan player the open shots he was taking in his video.  I wish I saw any kind of indication that a Plan B exists in his offensive game.

Positive - At least he can knock 'em down.



August 8th, 2016 at 10:19 AM ^

"If you take away his two best offers, his offers stink..."

It says right in the post he also has offers from Notre Dame, Minnesota, Creighton and Xavier. Yeah, those aren't Kentucky and Duke, but ND and XU have had a lot of consistant tournament success as of late.

And yeah, like you said, its basketball recruiting, not football. Offers aren't thrown around like they are in FB, if he's got an offer than the staff think's he's good and the right fit.