The State of Things: Pretty Good!
247 changed latest commit Ignas Brazdeikis's composite ranking to reflect that half the services don't bother to rank foreign prospects. He's now the #42 overall player in the class, which would place him as the fifth-highest ranked signee in John Beilein's Michigan tenure, per Orion Sang.
It really can't be overstated how nice it is to be one of maybe three or four major college basketball programs that isn't in a full state of panic over the possibility of an FBI raid. We're already seeing the fallout for other programs: Arizona lost a five-star commit; Louisville no longer has a coach, athletic director, or 2018 recruiting class, and they've suspended five-star freshman Brian Bowen. There's surely more to come, as Nike's EYBL, the most prominent AAU league, has been served with a subpoena.
Meanwhile, both recruits and coaches have to figure out how to navigate the post-Feds recruiting landscape, and both sides appear to be acting with great caution. The top overall recruit in the class, RJ Barrett, is no longer visiting Arizona after they were linked to the scandal. He's also no longer visiting Michigan this weekend and has eliminated the Wolverines; given Beilein's sterling reputation, read into that what you will.
It's going to be a long, messy ride for many of college basketball's top programs. Beilein's insistence on sticking to rules almost literally nobody else follows has rankled in the past, even those who want a generally clean program, but he sure looks better for it today. Running a program that isn't in danger of major sanctions or, like, having coaches literally end up imprisoned is going to be a major draw for the foreseeable future.
[Hit THE JUMP for weekend visitors and more.]
Weekend Visitors: Castleton, Nunez Taking Officials
Even without Barrett, this is another big recruiting weekend for the program. Michgian sits in the top two for four-star Florida stretch big Colin Castleton, whose other option is Illinois. Notably, Lamont Wade, one of Illini coach Brad Underwood's former Oklahoma State assistants, was one of the four coaches initially charged in the bribe scheme. Regardless of how that factors in, Michigan looks like they're in excellent shape after recently turning up the heat on Castleton, who told Scout's Brian Snow he's could make a decision shortly after this visit:
Given that Castleton is focused on two schools, and that he has already visited Illinois, it stands to reason a decision could be coming shortly after his trip to Michigan.
About a potential choice, Castleton said, "Honestly it all depends on the visit. I couldn't tell you what I will do yet because I haven't seen Michigan."
Castleton went on, "I will probably come home and talk things over with my family and my coaches and think about it before deciding, but I can't say for sure when I will make my choice. It all depends on how my visit goes and which school I feel most comfortable with."
Michigan has the last two picks on Castleton's Crystal Ball, including one from 247's director of basketball scouting, Jerry Meyer. As a true big with shooting range, he'd be an ideal replacement for Moe Wagner. As Dylan pointed out at UMHoops, Castleton had the second-best block rate in the EYBL this year, and he's also a strong rebounder; while he doesn't have Wagner's skill off the dribble, he could shore up M's longstanding issues with rim protection and rebounding from the center position.
The other visitor has flown under the radar to the entire country for most of his recruitment, which is a type of prospect Beilein has done remarkably well with as a coach. 6'5" Brooklyn shooting guard Adrien Nunez didn't have an offer heading into the summer, but after showing off a sweet shooting stroke—Rivals's Corey Evans regards him as one of the top five shooters in the class—he's picked up several offers, and could add another this weekend, per Chris Balas:
“I just got offered by Texas A&M. We’ll see how that goes,” he said. “Penn State and Boston College have also offered.”
But Michigan is extremely intriguing, he added.
“It just checks all the boxes,” he said. “It’s the No. 1 public university in the country, they just won Big Ten. Coach B. is Coach B., a great coach. He’s one of my favorite coaches. It’s the whole package.”
He’ll be on campus with his parents, during which he hopes to receive an offer.
“Coach Beilein said we’d talk about an offer when I get to campus,” he said.
The timing here will be interesting. Michigan is also heavily in the mix with sharpshooter Noah Locke, who visits Florida this weekend. Nunez could be the backup plan if Locke goes elsewhere, which seems to be the case with Texas SG Keonte Kennedy, who's slated to visit October 8th. If Michigan wants more size in the backcourt with this class, Nunez could potentially jump in front of Locke, who's a few inches shorter. This should move pretty quickly: Nunez told Orion Sang he plans to make a decision in early- or mid-October.
Four-star Chicago wing Talen Horton-Tucker had a good visit to Michigan last week, but after the Brazdeikis commitment, it's hard to find a spot for him in the class.
Happy trails to Hunter Tyson, who committed to Clemson, and Justin Ahrens, who re-committed to Ohio State. Michigan had seemingly backed off of Tyson in recent weeks as they focused on Brazdeikis, while Ahrens also likely slid into backup plan status given M's standing with Locke and increased interest in Nunez and Kennedy.