It's Booker And Blackmon Decision Eve Comment Count

Brian October 30th, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Michigan's 2014 basketball recruiting will either just about wrap up or flail about like a demon-god with two of its favorite psuedopods hacked off tomorrow when Devin Booker and James Blackmon, Jr., both announce decisions.

Devin Booker


Michigan was long thought the favorite for Booker, a 6'5" shooting guard out of Mississippi, despite his dad's status as a Missouri program legend. That had a lot to do with his mom, who lives in Grand Rapids and supposedly has been enthused about Michigan for a while. His final five:

Booker, rated the No. 18 player in the Class of 2014 by ESPN, has publicly narrowed his choices to Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri and Florida. However, Kentucky, Missouri and Michigan are believed to be the favorites for his signature.

Michigan led, then everyone piled on Kentucky once they offered, and everyone's still on Kentucky despite a late move by Missouri, which hosted him for an official on the 19th immediately followed by an unofficial.

Kentucky folk remain confident; a random internet poll on the local paper's website favors Missouri, with Michigan running at 11%. Booker announces at 4PM.

James Blackmon Jr.


Blackmon's also dropping Thursday, publicly down to a similar list of IU, Michigan, MSU, Kansas, and UK. Blackmon's done a full tour of those schools after his decommitment from Indiana, and after some Michigan chatter things seem to have swung back to UK, heavily. His dad played there.

I guess the hope on both of these recruitments is that people don't really know what's going on with either kid, like they didn't have much of a read on Kam Chatman. That does not seem to be the case, unfortunately. These opinions about both picking Kentucky are of the Strong Take variety.

Blackmon announces at halftime of the Troy-ULM game on ESPNU.

What Next

Michigan's likely okay at the 2 even if they strike out tomorrow, which it seems the world expects. Stupid UK's stupid inability to get their plan A targets. Caris LeVert will be back, and Nik Stauskas should be. Even if Stauskas does leave for the NBA, Michigan can back up LeVert with a few minutes a game running two points or going big with Kam Chatman or Zak Irvin.

Michigan does project to have two open slots entering the spring signing period, and would probably like to use one and bank one, which would make the 2014 class two (open plus the graduation of Jon Horford) plus whatever attrition there is in the next two years, NBA or otherwise.

Obviously, the guy on everyone's radar is NV by way of Australia PF Jonah Bolden, who debuted with a splash at the Adidas Nations tournament, likes Michigan (his dad's from Flint) and is an excellent stretch four fit for Beilein's system. He's spending his final year of high school at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, where Michigan has recruited before, nearly reeling in OSU redshirt freshman-to-be Amadeo Della Valle. It'll take a while for Bolden to get all his academics ironed out what with the transfer, but Michigan would almost certainly go after Bolden in earnest once that's settled.

Fellow Australian Dante Exum, a 6'6" fellow skyrocketing towards the top of NBA draft boards, was 50-50 between entering the draft and college as of late August and had Michigan in a top five with Indiana, UNC, Kentucky, and Oregon. That's a longshot for a lot of reasons.

If the big guns don't come through, Michigan will scour locally for another LeVert type: tall, young for his grade, late-rising.



October 30th, 2013 at 4:38 PM ^

He said this morning that he thinks Michigan has the best chance with Blackmon, albeit not by much, with Kentucky and then Indiana trailing (this was not a gut feeling).  He also said that he doesn't see Booker in AA. 

As for Bolden, I love his highlights (yes, I realize they're highlights).  It might not be a bad thing in the long run if Michigan ends up with him b/c Booker and Blackmon went elsewhere.

Toasted Yosties

October 30th, 2013 at 4:12 PM ^

in basketball than football in regards to recruiting?  I guess I expected the run to the Title game would pull more weight with recruits than it has.  Here's hoping I'm speaking too soon.


October 30th, 2013 at 4:14 PM ^

I'm pretty sure he played last year and is thus not a redshirt freshman but a true sophomore.  I'm still thrilled to have Levert and Spike instead of him. 


October 30th, 2013 at 4:20 PM ^

We're probably not going to get either...ah well. next  year is the money year in basketball recruiting

Losing kids to Kentucky is just is religion down there. We've done really well catching up to the Joneses under Beilein and the athletic department, and I don't think we've hit our ceiling under this regime yet, but guys like Saban and Calipari compete for titles on a regular basis.


October 30th, 2013 at 5:02 PM ^

That "certain 2015 prospects" (read: Kennard) would be looking to see how his top schools fill out their SG position in 2014, and the depth chart in 2015 for that same position.  If both Booker/Blackmon go UK, then the foreseeable competition at Michigan in 2015 (I don't think either of those kids are one and dones) would be Senior Caris Levert and Sophomore Kameron Chatman (who is more of a 3 anyway).  I think depth would favor Michigan in that case.

Then again, it is a dream school, so that certainly doesn't help.  Regardless, if you miss out on Blackmon/Booker, go for Bolden and then go hard for a quality SG in 2015.  Michigan is in on Jalen Coleman so I would put the full court press on at that point.


October 30th, 2013 at 4:31 PM ^

The 2014 recruiting class is a little dissapointing if we don't land these guys.  Yeah the national championship won't pay off till the next year but in the years previous we had glenn robinson and irvin and walton and mcgary who were all highly rated.  This year our highest rated guy is chatman and then its a long way down to the next one.  Definetely a little dissapointing.


October 30th, 2013 at 4:45 PM ^

Robinson, Irvin and Walton were all top 100 type recruits when they committed to UM, only to blow up over the summer before their senior year.  I fully expect Chatman to make a similar leap by the end of this year, though he might fall short of 5-star status.  I also think Blackmon will pick UM tomorrow.  

2015 5-star(ish) combo guard Jalen Coleman should, hopefully, pick UM in the near future and I fully expect that to kick off what should be a huge 2015 class for Michigan.


October 30th, 2013 at 5:03 PM ^

But I too think Michigan is well placed for Jalen Coleman and he is near the top of my want list for 2015, can score from anywhere on the floor.  While I'm actually somewhat optimistic about Blackmon (committing after Booker may likely commit to UK), if we miss out on both, I would think that would make Michigan more appealing to Coleman.


October 30th, 2013 at 4:45 PM ^

But Chatman is a very highly rated guy, and unanimously so. That's a very big pick up. Doyle and Wilson are more in the Beilein mold in that they're a better fit than their rankings suggest. I agree that it would be great to pick up on more top guy, but saying this class is a disappointment is harsh.


October 30th, 2013 at 5:04 PM ^

I'd be okay with adding Bolden assuming the staff thinks that Chatman and Wilson can slide down a spot to the 2 & 3. 


Otherwise, I might prefer to just bank the scholly for 2015 as there is a ton of talent in that class we are in on. 

Voltron Blue

October 30th, 2013 at 5:46 PM ^

I don't follow this quite closely enough to know who Plan A was, but my understanding is that Blackmon and Booker are Kentucky's Plan B/C.  Doesn't make it any better, but there it is.


October 30th, 2013 at 5:51 PM ^

While the players may all be good and ultimately very successful players and people, there's no reason to sugar-coat things:  Michigan missed on a lot of guys they wanted, and completely whiffed on their top tier.

If you look back early in the cycle they were targeting Booker, Blueitt, Bates-Diop, Edwards, and Tate.  Even Chatman was a Plan B type at that time, getting his offer much later than Booker, Blueitt and the OSU signees (though he may not actually have been, sometimes recruiting is not linear). They also drew interest from elite guys like Towns Jr and Looney but it never turned into anything serious.  

They also chose not pursue Jaylen Johnson, a high caliber local recruit that ended up at Lousiville.  While fit has been questioned, Michigan is going to be pretty light in the frontcourt next year if McGary departs as expected.  He could have helped.

Comparing to what this program was recruiting a few years ago – the class is good.  Comparing to the ’12 and ’13 classes, and given the season we had, the ’14 class is not.  It’s not quite a swing and miss, but a single through the infield.

This not to question or criticize Beilein, as his ability to recruit talent (ranked highly and not) is all but unassilable.  I like the potential of Wilson, Doyle, and Chatman...but I'd rather have a class of Booker, Bates-Diop, and Looney.  So did our staff, but it wasn't their year it seems. 


October 30th, 2013 at 7:29 PM ^

Booker was always up there.

I don't doubt that the staff would just as soon have Chatman as, say, Edwards or Blueitt, but it seemed like they priorited some other players first (e.g., Booker, Bates-Diop).  I could be wrong though - Chatman is a quieter recruit.  Regardless they're probably very happy with Chatman now, but they'd still rather have Looney I imagine.



October 30th, 2013 at 7:43 PM ^

Has said that Michigan was the first school recruiting him, and was recruiting him hard from the start. You can fault Beilein for Bates-Diop and Booker, but suggesting he missed on Looney is like saying he missed on Karl Towns. Neither was ever a remotely realistic option outside of the perpetually optimistic sector of the Michigan internets.


October 30th, 2013 at 8:59 PM ^

About whether Michigan can get top 20 players (they beat everyone, including UK and Duke, for McGary). I'm talking about whether they were ever going to get Kevin Looney. Analogy time:

Looney:basketball recruiting
Fournette:football recruiting


October 31st, 2013 at 12:33 PM ^

The same could/would have been said of McGary.

Not buying the Fournette comparison.  Geography and recent success make Michigan a much better fit for Looney than an elite football RB.

 “I have contact with Michigan, Beilein calls me, texts me. LaVall Jordan talks to me a lot. So I have a pretty good relationship with Michigan.”  “They’re a good team, they win,” Looney said. “When I went to the Final Four, their fans were crazy. They just have I great system that I think I could play well in.”

If we were talking about some elite center from California I might buy it, but Looney is a midwest kid.  He is not from Louisiana.  Like Fournette, Looney is from the region of the country that is dominant in it's sport, but that happens to be a good thing for Michigan in basketball.   And also - Michigan's bball team just went to the championship game and is not shooting...whatever the equivalent is to our RB ypc.




October 30th, 2013 at 7:53 PM ^

It's silly to suggest that Chatman is not a Plan-A guy.  He's a near-5 star player.  We heard about Booker earlier because he's from Michigan and he showed us so much interest right away, but that has nothing to do with how badly the coaches wanted him.  

Sure, it would have been nice to pick up 2 top guys in this class like we have the last couple years, but you're going a little overboard I think.  Let's also take a wait-and-see approach with guys like Doyle and Wilson because the staff has done a pretty good job of finding guys that the services (or even other coaches) missed on.  

When they committed, GRIII, Nik Stauskas, Caris Levert, Trey Burke and THJr were all 3 stars.  The last three remained that way until signing day.  These are also guys that none of the top programs recruited.  I think Beilein has earned the benefit of the doubt for a bit.


October 30th, 2013 at 8:35 PM ^

It seems to me that some people just have a problem acknowledging reality.  We didn't get the guys we wanted most.  That's O.K. and the program can obviously do great with that.  Hopefully in the future we do get the guys we want most.


I don't think it's going overboard to suggest that Plan A is top 25 guys like McGary and Robinson.  As Michigan has moved up from the Novak/Douglass days, that's the sandbox we're playing in.  Michigan targets those guys - sometimes they get them, sometimes they don't.  When they do, it's good.  When they don't we move on to plan B.

We heard about Booker at the same time that we heard about others that are not from Michigan and didn't necessarily show tons of interest early: Blueitt, Bates-Diop, Edwards.  These are guys the staff targeted early.  In some cases the interest faded, in other it only intensified.  Blackmon came much later, after his decomitt.

Beilein wanted kids more than he wanted Trey Burke.  He wanted Casey Prather more than he wanted THJ (or Colton Christian).

Plan B can be better than Plan A, but usually it's not.  Regardless, they aren't the same thing.  They are different plans. 


Every recruit, including Hatch, is wait-and-see.  That's the nature of recruiting, but that doesn't mean you don't have priorities and preferences.  There's no point in following recruiting at all if you just say 'wait and see' to everyone.

Pointing out that we missed on our top targets this year and that's a bummer is not questioning Beilein's recruiting ability or talent identification.  These are different things.


October 30th, 2013 at 6:35 PM ^

2014 class is not disappointing compared to other Beilein classes in general, only really disappointing because we are coming off a national title game with a really highly rated freshman class.  From what I've read, basketball recruiting sometimes lags a year, so I'm going to hope 2015 lands more stars.


Regardless, I have full faith in Beilein to identify and develop talent.  He has done it flawlessly since he's been here.


October 30th, 2013 at 7:27 PM ^

but Coach B has done such a terrific job with this program...its really Blackmon and Booker's loss.  They would get a great education and play in a program second to none at Michigan.  If they don't want that and would rather deal with the lottery talent fest of Lexington thats cool.  Michigan basketball will survive.


October 31st, 2013 at 2:07 AM ^

If it's any consolation to anyone, Bolden is ranked as a 5-Star on 24-7 Sports... He would be a huge addition if we have to chance to get him...

It would obviously be really nice to have a sure-fire high-impact player in this class, but I think we have a really great class already...

Ricky Doyle is a 4-Star on ESPN, has great film, and depending on where you look, has some good offers...

Kameron Chatman is a stud. The kid is lanky, has a great jump-shot, but most importantly, is extremely versatile. He is lauded for his ball-handling and passing, and at 6'7", he can play almost anywhere on the court.

DJ Wilson... Looks extremely smooth. 6'8" at the 3- Position. Will obviously have to gain a bunch of strength/ weight if he wants to play the Stretch 4...



I, personally, would choose Blackmon over Booker, but even if we get neither, we will be perfectly fine....


October 31st, 2013 at 8:08 AM ^

Even though we may miss on both these guys I was still smiling reading the post.  Seriously, six years ago who would of thought we would be discussing who might be going pro and leaving early and trying to figure out witch top 100 recruit is coming to UM?  Life is still good.


October 31st, 2013 at 9:44 AM ^

Seems odd to me that two kids ranked so highly playing the same position would go to the same school. Before people slam this with the "good players aren't scared of competition" argument, I still don't agree as far as basketball goes. These two could both go to UK and be tremendous players. But there is only one 2 guard on the floor at a time. I would think they would want to play that position as much as possible to help their NBA stock. Splitting minutes isn't usually an attraction to top players.