A Review of MBB Recruiting Under John Beilein and Comparing the 2012 Class to the 2018 Class

Submitted by Bambi on January 11th, 2018 at 6:37 PM

Today's front page post about the future off the basketball team, combined with the general optimism surrounding the program, has inspired me to go back and compare this year's recruiting class to the 2012 one. That 2012 class is easily the best in recent Michigan mens basketball history so the comparison is not in the "how succesful will the 2018 class be compared to the 2012 class" but more just to compare the recruiting rankings and how the recruits fit into Beilein's system.

Before I look at the 2012 and 2018 classes, I wanted to remind everyone of the classes in between. For simplicity's sake, all recruiting info (individual player ratings, stars and class rankings) will be pulled from 247 using their composite rankings.

2013: Overall Class Rank - 14, B1G Class Rank - 3, AVG Rating - .9755

Name Position Recruiting Stars Composite Grade National Ranking State Ranking
Zak Irvin SG 4 .9876 28 1 (IN)
Derrick Walton Jr. PG 4 .9833 45 2 (MI)
Mark Donnal PF 4 .9579 86 3 (OH)

2014: Overall Class Rank - 30, B1G Class Rank - 4, AVG Rating -.8818

Name Position Recruiting Stars Composite Grade National Ranking State Ranking
Kam Chatman SF 4 .9896 27 1 (OR)
DJ Wilson SF 4 .9212 123 14 (CA)
Ricky Doyle PF 3 .8675 209 21 (FL)
Aubrey Dawkins SG 3 .8218 396 8 (NH)
MAAR SG 3 .8094 434 12 (PA)

2015: Overall Class Rank - 107, B1G Class Rank - 14, AVG Rating -.9430

Name Position Recruiting Stars Composite Grade National Ranking State Ranking
Moritz Wagner PF 4 .9273 119 1 (NY?)

2016: Overall Class Rank - 31, B1G Class Rank - 6, AVG Rating -.9049

Name Position Recruiting Stars Composite Grade National Ranking State Ranking
Zavier Simpson PG 4 .9748 67 7 (OH)
Jon Teske C 3 .9047 142 10 (OH)
Austin Davis C 3 .8803 177 3 (MI)
Ibi Watson SG 3 .8600 239 15 (OH)

2017: Overall Class Rank - 43, B1G Class Rank - 6, AVG Rating -.9176

Name Position Recruiting Stars Composite Grade National Ranking State Ranking
Jordan Poole SG 4 .9506 92 7 (IN)
Isaiah Livers PF 4 .9215 132 2 (MI)
Eli Brooks PG 3 .8807 202 10 (PA)

Some notes on these classes:

  • Position is position listed on their 247 recruiting profile, not the position they necessarily played at Michigan.
  • Austin Hatch and Brent Hibbits were both excluded from the tables (Hatch for medical reasons, Hibbits because he was never a scholarship player).
  • Hibbits was listed in the same class as Wagner but without any rankings or info. Despite Wagner having a rating of .9273 (and being listed as playing in Berlin, NY), the class has an average rating of .9430, which makes no sense.
  • The best recruiting class by far was the 2013 class with Irvin, Walton and Donnal, all of which were 4 stars. It was the 14th best class in the country that year per 247.
  • The worst class was the 2014 class, with an average rating of .8818. This fits with what we now know from that class, with DJ and MAAR being the only contributors and MAAR being the only player to stay for 4 years. The fact that the class had 5 players pushed the class to 30th in the nation per 247, which actually puts it second highest of these classes.
  • The highest rated recruit of these players was Kam Chatman in 2014 (lol), with a national ranking of 27 and composite grade of .9896. He just barely beat out Zak Irvin who was 28th and had a grade of .9876.
  • The lowest rated recruit was MAAR, also part of that 2014 class, with a .8034 composite grade and 434 national ranking.. He beat out fellow 2014 recruit Aubrey Dawkins who had a composite grade of .8218 and ranking of 396.

Now the 2012 and 2018 classes:

2012: Overall Class Rank - 8, B1G Class Rank - 2, AVG Rating -.9373

Name Position Recruiting Stars Composite Grade National Ranking State Ranking
GR3 SF 5 .9934 17 1 (IN)
Mitch McGary PF 4 .9897 28 3 (NH)
Nik Stauskas SG 4 .9369 110 5 (MA)
Spike Albrecht PG 3 .8556 221 9 (MA)
Caris Levert SG 3 .8444 239 5 (OH)

2018: Overall Class Rank - 9, B1G Class Rank - 1, AVG Rating -.9434

Name Position Recruiting Stars Composite Grade National Ranking State Ranking
Ignas Brazdeikis SF 4 .9867 34 1 (ON)
Brandon Johns PF 4 .9718 69 (nice) 2 (MI)
David Dejulius PG 3 .9331 132 5 (MI)
Colin Castleton PF 3 .9330 133 14 (FL)
Adrien Nunez SG 3 .8924 206 2 (CT)

Some comparisons between the two classes:

  • Both classes are top 10 nationally and the 2018 class is currently 1st in the B1G (although as more unsigned top propsects commit, both those rankings will drop).
  • The 2018 class has a higher average ranting per player (.9434 vs .9373), which is the second highest of any of these classes behind the 2013 class.
  • Both classes consist of 5 players. Unlike the 2014 class which also consisted of 5 players, both the 2012 and 2018 classes consist of 5 player classes where each player fits a unique position on a Beilein team.

    • PG - Albrecht vs Dejulius
    • SG - Levert/Stauskas vs Nunez
    • SF - Levert/Stauskas vs Brazdeikis
    • PF - GR3 vs Johns
    • C - McGary vs Castleton
    • This is not saying the play style of each player matches up directly (ie Castleton is not the same player as McGary, he's a stretch big compared to McGary being a post player), but just where they fit on the floor.
  • The 2012 class had a better top of the class (McGary and GR3 were more highly regarded than any of the 2018 guys), but the depth of the 2018 class is much better. Iggy and Johns are the only 4 stars but Dejulius and Castleton are 3 and 4 spots away respectively from being 4 stars, and Nunez is a solid mid tier 3 star compared to Albrecht and Levert being bottom tier 3 stars. This is what pulls the average 2018 rating above the average 2012 rating.

Overall the 2018 class should be a great class and another reason to be excited about the future of Michigan basketball. However this should also serve as a reminder that college athletes are fickel beasts and recruiting rankings pretty much mean nothing once the kids get to campus.

The highest rated recruit for Michigan between 2013 and 2017 (Chatman) was arguably the worst recruit in that time, while the lowest rated guy (MAAR) has been arguably the most consistent player in that time. Even in the 2012 class the lowest rated guy (Levert) has had a better career than either of the top 2 guys in that class. So while expectations for the future should be high, keep in mind that struggles and busts may/will occur and are to be expected.



January 11th, 2018 at 8:22 PM ^

Good post. Level headed with data to back it up. What has me most excited about the future is it has what we've lacked in the past....depth at the 4 position. Livers, Iggy, Johns can all play the 4 (and the 3). Lots of skill and versatility. What needs to be seen going forward is who can consistently get their own shot at the college level. Caris, Nik, GRIII in the right matchup, Spike even, all were capable of being late clock guys. Hopefully Poole, Livers, David D can be those type players too

Mr Miggle

January 11th, 2018 at 8:29 PM ^

is not yet finished. At least in terms of rankings. I feel safe in predicting an overall imcrease in their ranking. I haven't heard much about Nunez so far, but the others are having real strong senior seasons.

Also, at this time in 2012, that was a three man class. Caris and Spike were added late after some attrition. Late adds significantly hurt the' average rating of that class.

We could see enough attrition that another player could be added to the 2018 class in the spring too. Given our scholarship situation for 2019 though, there's reason to prefer a grad transfer or banking an additional roster spot.



January 12th, 2018 at 2:42 PM ^

But if anything I think this class will drop rankings wise. Some of these guys are due for ratings jumps, but it won't be anything too significant (no 4 star guys become 5 stars, high 3/low 4 star guys becoming bonafied 4 stars). There are still 8 5 stars alone according to 247 who have yet to committ. When those guys start committing, plus other highly rated guys, we will probably drop a few spots.

I also don't see us adding anyone else. As it stands we are one scholarship over the limit if everyone comes back. At this point it seems like at most one of Moe/Matthews goes pro, and there's a chance neither do. The only major transfer risk I see is Watson. So realistically I can see at most 1 open scholarship, which I have a feeling would either be banked for 2019 or used for a grad transfer.

Killer Khakis

January 11th, 2018 at 9:37 PM ^

I never understood why people said Beilein can't recruit: look at most of our classes. They aren't bad. They aren't elite numbers but pretty good. I've never understood the hate for his recruiting. I know STARZ matter (especially in football from what I hear) but if the coach has a track record of working with the players he want, lets respect that and understand they know who they want and are looking for. 

Really appreciate posts like this, thanks for sharing!


January 11th, 2018 at 10:28 PM ^

This is a nice post with some great data. Thank you.

I will echo the thoughts that I think Beilein takes too many hits for "not recruiting well." He just recruits slightly different players who fit his system. There was a great article in the Freep today about Brandon Johns (from E. Lansing) deliberately choosing UM over MSU, and being a "better fit" at Michigan.

Imhe, Beilein's performance and style has led to an uptick in recruiting. I think it is quite possible he will slightly improve his recruiting. This will happen not so much because of Beilein, but because coaches and kids and parents out there are more and more realizing that there are several positives:

  • The style of play
  • Success in putting guys in the NBA
  • Success in developing guys
  • The improvement of Michigan's physical facilities
  • Beilein's reputation, well-deserved, of being an ethical straight shooter.

These factors play a different role for different kids. But I think with some of the slime out there, a few coaches and parents and definitely some of the kids want a different environment than playing at a place like Louisville.


January 12th, 2018 at 12:39 AM ^

I don't think you can say that the 2014 class was the worst class. It has one first round NBA draft pick (Wilson), one solid four year player (MAAR), and three transfers, but even that undersells it, as Kam Chatman would have had a definite role on this year's team. He was not a player Michigan wanted to lose. He was just starting to assert himself at Michigan when he left to follow BA to Detroit, where he's shooting 46% from three this year while averaging 18 points and ~9 rebounds a game. I'd much rather have him than Doyle, Dawkins, Donnal, or Watson, despite the fact that he didn't blossom here at Michigan.

Meanwhile, the 2015 class has one player (Moe) who might go in the first round of the NBA draft and no one else. That's worse than 2014. And the 2016 class, while still obviously a ways to go before we can fully evaluate it, has a couple of guys who might be four year players (Z and Teske), one guy who will probably never play any significant role for Michigan (Watson, who is going to be stuck behind everyone for the rest of his career, if he sticks around), and a guy (Davis) who could be anything from solid contributor as a redshirt sophomore to a transfer candidate. I think that's worse than 2014 too.

To put 2014 at the bottom, you have to count recruiting misses as more important than recruiting hits, which I think is the opposite of what you'd want to do. Recruiting misses eventually transfer away and free up scholarships; recruiting hits form the backbone of your program. This is especially true since John Beilein only wants to play 8-9 guys regularly anyway. The fliers he took on Dawkins and Doyle weren't that costly; but hitting on DJ and MAAR was tremendously beneficial. Meanwhile, the 2015 class will only ever contribute one guy; we could have desperately used some more players in that class.

Anyway, those are my two cents. Great post!

Mr Miggle

January 12th, 2018 at 8:54 AM ^

You have to expect a lot more from a class of 5 than from a class of 1. You're investing a lot more in them.

Wilson was on the roster for 3 years and was a good contributor in one. Even then, he was probably less valuable than Wagner. Chatman, Doyle and Dawkins all spent two years on the roster. MAAR has been the biggest plus from that class by far, but the most valuable player from the two classes combined is arguably still Wagner, especially if he returns for another season.  





January 12th, 2018 at 2:22 PM ^

I guess it's a matter of perspective and how you define success, but I think it's pretty easy to call the 2014 class the worst one.

You mentoned NBA draft position a few times, but where a player is drafted doesn't correlate to how effective they were as a college player. At this point it's no guarantee that Moe is a first round pick (doesn't seem likely now) and DJ might end up being the better NBA player, but in college, Moe has clearly been the better player. DJ was a very good player last year, but that's the only year he contributed anything. Moe is in his 3rd year on campus, contributed late in the year as a freshman, and has been the focal point of the offense the past two years. Based on contributions to the team, both production and longevity, Moe has been a more productive college player than DJ, and that's without Moe potentially returning for a final year.

I also think you're underselling the impact of the transfers. When you take 5 guys, and 2 years later 3 are gone and have all transferred to mid-major conferences, that's very telling about the quality of the class. Having 3 kids transfer out at the same time before their third year on campus also kills depth, and it was apparent last year. Especially with Matthews sitting out due to transferring in, it meant our only backup wings were Duncan/Ibi (who didn't play much at all and might transfer after this year). If we had a quality 3rd year wing to backup Irvin/MAAR/Wilson, Duncan wouldn't have been on the court as much against Oregon and couldn't have been targeted as much on D. The lack of depth resulting from the transfers alone make that class the worst.

I also don't buy the stuff about Kam. He's doing very well this year for UDM, which is great for him, but that mostly has to due with the drop in competetiton. He had a good opener against Va Tech, but the only other quality teams he's played (UCLA and Michigan) he scored but was ineffecient. His stats have mostly come from piling on against bad teams an then checking up enough shots against good teams to get quantity. He did that at Michigan (10 points in 14 minutes against Delaware State, 8 points in 10 minutes against Youngstown State) so I don't think that's anything new. He was never going to play a role at Michigan. His last game was the First Four against Tulsa, where he went 0-5 (0-3 from 3) from the field in 4 minutes. He didn't play against ND. Dude was never going to be a factor here.

When a 5 man class has 3 busts, 1 guy who contributed for 1 year, and 1 4 year contributor, especially compared to Beilein's other classes it's the worst one.


January 12th, 2018 at 2:47 PM ^

Can you imagine a lineup with

C - Mo, Teske

4 - DJ, Livers

3 - Matthews, Dunkin

SG - MAAR, Poole

PG - Simpson, Brooks ?

That would be a team with the capability to challenge MSU this year....Very flexible lineup with pretty much everyone but Z and Teske able to slide up and/or down a spot. (Also a lot more ways to “hide” DR and allow him to find his role.)


January 17th, 2018 at 11:36 AM ^

From when I first watched him play for Michigan I never saw much potential.  The weird thing is that he didn't seem to get any stronger while at Michigan.   His recruitment was a huge miss that really hurt the program's success for two-three years.


January 13th, 2018 at 6:11 AM ^

This diary was balanced with great support info.  Thanks for taking the time.  I don't get the chance to follow BB as much as I'd like and really enjoyed the overview.  Also, thanks to all who commented.  Great discussion without disintegrating into snarky crap that many of the threads do.  Thanks to all for an enjoyable read.  


January 13th, 2018 at 11:49 AM ^

recruiting over time, is that he seems to be extremely good in evaluating shooting talent and non-pivot players. Because of his background, it seems to me that he never gets hung up pn recruiting the most talented kid on the board.

In other words, he will never compete for McDonald's All-Americans which Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina are fighting for every year. It seemed odd that Michigan was in the croot hunt for Bamba last year, but that, of course, was largely based on the player's preferences for great academic schools with solid basketball programs and coaches that he had good knowledge of.

What the Bamba recruitment illustrates though is that after decades as a head coach, Beilein has finally earned the reputation of being not just a great teacher of the game, but a coach who can enhance the ability of mid-to-high level college players and push them toward the pros on a scale that few other coaches can.

I think what sets Beilein apart, is one his desire to find the mid-range to upper player who meets the standards for his program and style of play, and then develop them into confident, quality players.

I mean every coach has hits and misses in his program. Chatman and Wilson really demonstrate that divide. And when the coach has missed, he hasn't been shy in the last few years anyway, to suggest a player take his game elsewhere even as he's helped other players find themselves and leave sooner, perhaps too quickly, for the pros.

What it suggests is that maybe after all this time, the coach has just hit his stride in knowing what works best for him and how to mold talent to meet his needs. I think that Beilein probably developed his recruiting to compensate for the inability to go after the very best high school All-Americans, and find the kids with a combination of skill, moxie and growth potentail to fit his system.


Mr Miggle

January 15th, 2018 at 9:56 AM ^

I think our center recruiting is trending in a very good direction. If there's one position where I'd rather get a good player that fits the system rather than a 5*, it's center. The 5*s there are very hit and miss compared to other positions. A few are stars for a year, but they often need time to develop and leave after one year anyway.

Players like Castleton can see themselves in Wagner's role. If Teske can keep improving, maybe that opens up our recruiting even more. 


January 15th, 2018 at 6:24 PM ^

I think the knock on Beilein's recruiting comes from what seems like a struggle to fill the last available slot with high profile recruit.  Many have worked out well (Spike Albrecht) but I am always glad that Beilein has a reputation for development and a system.  So I only smile when others get over wrought.

Ali G Bomaye

January 16th, 2018 at 12:25 PM ^

One advantage of Beilein's recruiting in general, and the 2018 class in particular, is that he seems to target the types of players who will only leave early for the NBA if they blow up to a ridiculous degree (like Burke and Stauskas).

The 2012 class was almost too good to be stable, as Robinson and McGary were NBA-level athletes out of high school and Stauskas went nuclear into a lottery pick. From what I understand about the 2018 class, while any or all of these guys may develop into first-round picks, none of them is likely to leave after their freshman/sophomore years unless they develop into an All-American-level talent, in which case Godspeed.