Why Isn't Michigan Basketball Recruiting at a Top 5 Level Yet?

Submitted by Victor Valiant on October 28th, 2014 at 12:47 PM

I know this has been discussed before, but since it's an evolving conversation I just wanted to throw it out there again.

Why isn't Michigan basketball pulling in Top 5 recruiting classes yet? Don't get me wrong, Beilein and Co. have pulled in some great players, (GRIII, Trey Burke, McGary, Walton, Chatman, Levert, Stauskas, etc...) but they always seem to be guys that were either flying under the radar, late bloomers, or were seen as having a glaring deficiency in their game:

Stauskus (just a shooter)

McGary (old, concentration issues)

Levert (totally under radar)

Burke (small, passed over by OSU)

The list goes on...


247 has Michigan:

2014:  28th.

2013:  11th

2012:  7th

2011:  26th


After the fantastic success JB and the team has had, why aren't the Top 10 guys coming here? JB is clearly one of the best coaches in the country, gets his guys to the pro's, and has tangible success in the Big 10 and NCAA tournament. Michigan is also a top notch university. WHAT AM I MISSING! If I was a top 25 player in my class, I'd pay Michigan to let me play for JB.

EDIT: Clarified title a bit.

EDIT 2:  This post wasn't to blame JB for bad recruiting. He's actually done a fantastic job recruiting, all things considered. I should have been more clear. My main point was to ask why top 20 type players aren't coming here on a regular basis when it seems there are so many great reasons to do so.



1989 UM GRAD

October 28th, 2014 at 12:58 PM ^

I'm too lazy to look up the records but I'm guessing that U of M's record over the past four years compares favorably to any other school in the country...whether you're looking at overall record, conference championships, or number of players drafted.

The issues are that Beilein runs a relatively clean program, is focused on grades and character, and doesn't pursue many one and done types.

I'd be willing to bet that his selective criteria eliminates 66-75% of the top 100 recruits from consideration.


October 28th, 2014 at 12:52 PM ^

If I was a top 25 player in my class, I'd pay Michigan to let me play for JB.

Well, as it turns out, some of those other programs will pay you to play for them. Or get coeds to do your homework for you. Or get coeds to perform hostess favors for you.

The possibilities are endless...


October 28th, 2014 at 2:27 PM ^

... If my son was a 1 and done prospect, I think it's perfectly reasonable for him to see which program would give him the most cash.  Now, I would value how well a coach would prepare me for the NBA much higher, but all else equal, I'm encouraging my son to take the money.  

I'd like to think he will be capable of understanding which rules should be followed and which should not.  


October 28th, 2014 at 1:08 PM ^

And this was approximately the point I was going to make.  Our recent success in basketball is rougly  analagous to MSU's success in football.  We need to have sustained success over a longer period of time (decades, perhaps), and even then, the one-and-done schools will always attract more top elite prospects as long as the "1-year removed from high school" restriction on entry into the NBA is in place.  


October 28th, 2014 at 2:21 PM ^

To clarify, you mean MSU's football facilities are lackluster in contrast to our excellent basketball facilities?  This may be true, I don't know enough about MSU's situation. But there is no doubt our excellent facilities have been part of what catalyzed our recent return to greatness in basketball, but I still believe, despite that, our current program will not be able to out-recruit "NBA-lite" teams i.e. Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, UNC, patially due to those teams success at translating those players to the NBA, and also due to the current cohort of kids growing up with those teams as powerhouse BB schools.  We haven't been there long enough to make that impact yet for most kids.  


October 28th, 2014 at 3:38 PM ^

irrelevant.  Sparty football still wants and needs talented, highly-ranked kids like Malik McDowell, etc.  They have shown they can win a lot a games without all 4 and 5 star guys, but it has been proven that the more of those types of players you bring in the greater margin for error it gives you. 


In other words, it gets easier to win going forward if we bring in more talented kids (assuming of course they still fit the system and school, etc.)  You can't expect to turn every sleeper into a lotery pick ala Caris Levert.


October 28th, 2014 at 12:59 PM ^

I see three reasons for it.  First a few years of success doesn't make up for the much longer histories of success the other teams have.  Just like Michigan still out recruits MSU in football even though MSU is clearly the better team now.  When people think great basketball teams, Michigan is not in the first 10 names that come to peoples minds.

Second, I don't think Beilein is the recruiter that those coaches are.  He's not a salesman, he's a teacher.  It's definitely atractive to certain players but his style is different from those guys.

Third is the 1 and done.  He's had a lot of success lately getting kids to the NBA but I doubt that's one of the first things he mentions when talking to recruits.  Many top 20 players want to get to the NBA fast and Michigan hasn't had a single player go to the NBA after 1 year so those guys aren't going to look at Michigan.


October 28th, 2014 at 1:31 PM ^

That 2nd point is key here.  The recruits Beilein appeals to are the ones you want because they're gym rats and love the game and have a strong desire to get better.  I'd rather have the kids that sign up because they buy in to what Beilein is selling in terms of becoming better than say, the top 25 recruit that signs up because of the glam & glitz of a Midnight Madness or the prestige of being a basketball player at a Kentucky or Kansas.

Not to mention, looking at previous years of the top 247 recruits, outside of the top 5 or 10 recruits, it's pretty hit or miss with the top guys.  At this point, I'll trust Beilein's ability to identify the guys he wants out of the remaining guys that aren't in that top 5 or 10.

Lupe Fiasco

October 28th, 2014 at 1:03 PM ^

Sorry, but did you miss the news of the 2nd ranked player in his class pretty much recruiting Michigan himself and scheduling his last official visit for Michigan? Chill my brother


October 28th, 2014 at 1:06 PM ^

You would have to pass:
Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Louisville, Arizona, Kentucky, (just to name a few) on a consistent basis. Those teams have built up their reputation over the years while our success has been more recent.


October 28th, 2014 at 1:06 PM ^

It is really simple, 5 years of success does not erase decades of institutionalized advantages which is why Michigan football can still recruit effectively.  Go to a midnight madness event or a game at kentucky or kansas or duke and it blows crisler so far out of the water its not even funny.  Michigan would have to be an elite team for probably the next decade to get even close.  Hell Uconn has been elite for now over a decade and still gets out recruited by the blue bloods.


October 28th, 2014 at 1:07 PM ^

It is really simple, 5 years of success does not erase decades of institutionalized advantages which is why Michigan football can still recruit effectively.  Go to a midnight madness event or a game at kentucky or kansas or duke and it blows crisler so far out of the water its not even funny.  Michigan would have to be an elite team for probably the next decade to get even close.  Hell Uconn has been elite for now over a decade and still gets out recruited by the blue bloods.


October 28th, 2014 at 1:07 PM ^

I think the program's history, our selection criteria, and Beilein's approach to recruiting probably are all factors. That said, I agree with OP on being surprised that we often miss on top talent.


October 28th, 2014 at 1:09 PM ^

We've posbanging all over the place and you're bringing us back to earth.  Can't bring you to the party dude.

Seriously though, I take solace at the fact that we've been in on these guys.  Remember that current seniors and juniors in HS saw us make it to the title game and elite eight in back to back years.  And they've also seen Burke, THJ, GRIII, Nik and McGary get drafted.  It takes a couple years to go from being "in" on these guys and actually getting them.  We'll get our share of "one-and-done's" soon enough.


October 28th, 2014 at 1:09 PM ^

OSU, Duke, UNC, UK and UCLA pay recruits through boosters.  Michigan doesn't.  When your head coach is a former head of the ethics committee, you make "sacrifices."  I can't wait until the NCAA stops stealing earning opportunities from players and lets them take money wherever they can get it.  Then, Michigan boosters can pay like teams in the "top five" of recruiting do.

When Michigan paid back in the 1990's, they assembled one of the best freshman classes of all time.  I vote for levelling the playing field once again, but making it "legal" this time.


October 28th, 2014 at 1:25 PM ^

I don't have to watch great players come to Michigan, play one year, and bolt for the NBA.  I'd take watching guys like Burke, Stauskus and possibly LaVert develop into NBA draft picks,  any day of the week.




October 28th, 2014 at 1:25 PM ^

One reason is Beilein's policy of not offering a prospect a scholarship until he has visited campus and our coaches and players have had a chance to spend some time with him. Having said that, I don't think having a class that's highly ranked by the recruiting services has ever been a goal of Beilein or his staff. And given Beilein's track record on finding diamonds in the rough and developing them into stars, I think he's earned a lot of deference. 


October 28th, 2014 at 1:28 PM ^

I'll take playing at a high level over recruiting rankings.

Trey Burke - 3 star recruit, Tim Hardaway-3 star recruit, 12 guys ranked ahead of Nik Stauskas at the SG position, Caris LeVert - 3 star recruit.


October 28th, 2014 at 1:33 PM ^

guys are paid, play together, want to go to the basketball blue bloods. That's fine

My question: Why didn't we get a Top class in 2014 and why is 2015 so slow? If you look at the average player score on 247, we are #49. 

Why can't we recruit better? Great coach, great staff, excellent player development, top facilities, recent success...


October 28th, 2014 at 1:35 PM ^

BBall recruiting starts in middle school, where the top top recruited were probably hearing from the big boys (Duke, Kentucky, UNC etc) since 7th/8th grade. So you're looking at a 5/6 year recruiting cycle, and the top recruits in 2014/2015 classes have been recruited and interested in those top programs for years. It's hard to make up for those years of relationships in just a year or two. Since those kids probably wouldn't even have answered the phone if Michigan called back then.

Michigan went to the final four 2 years ago, so I would say the fruits of that labor will probably won't come around until the 2016/2017 classes.

UM Indy

October 28th, 2014 at 1:29 PM ^

Beilein takes his recruits regardless of rankings and molds them into basketball goodness.  Throw recruiting rankings out the window when you've got a genius coach.  That's something to be happy about, not question.

Blue Since B.C.

October 28th, 2014 at 1:30 PM ^

Because we haven't hired World Wide Wes' cronies for cushy jobs at the university.  Wait a minute...maybe Dave Brandon DID add them to the Marketing Dept. payroll, now that I think about it.

Fire Brandon! 


October 28th, 2014 at 1:34 PM ^

I'm suprised no one's mentioned we're an addidas school and Nike doesn't like their kids (AAU sponsored teams) going to Addidas schools or camps...

There's a lot of shady $$$$ in college basketball.  It only takes one or two recruits to have a great run in the tournament. 

Honestly if Michigan is top 3 of the Big Ten year in year out, why are we really complaining about what our basketball recruiting is ranked?  We're doing fine with players we're bringing in (and they're probably going to stay at Michigan longer than the top ranked recruits).


Perkis-Size Me

October 28th, 2014 at 1:39 PM ^

Michigan is a very good program right now, but it's had sustained success for roughly 3 years now, compared to bluebloods like Duke, Kansas, UNC and Kentucky, which have been traditional powerhouses for decades. It'd be similar to MSU fans asking why their football team can't recruit like ours does. Other schools just have inherent advantages. Being able to say you played for a legendary coach like Coach K, playing in front of the Cameron Crazies can be very enticing to many kids, regardless of whether or not Beilein is sending kids to the NBA every year. We're not going to out-recruit those schools. Maybe every once in a while we'll snag one of their top prospects, but those programs will usually always have first pick of the litter.

That being said, Beilein has shown, like Dantonio, that recruiting stars don't matter as much as some people think they do. Burke, Hardaway, and to a certain extent, Stauskas, were all recruiting outliers, and Beilein molded them into first round talent.

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October 28th, 2014 at 1:40 PM ^

The knock on the previous recruits was not needed. McGary for example, could have gone anywhere he wanted.

However, asking about Beilein's recruiting is legitimate, even if it's a nitpick.  This is probably obvious, but anytime to you question or criticize Beilien it has to be qualified by stating that in the grand scheme of things we are all extremely happy with the program and our coach. All hail and so on, but back to the topic at hand.

Recruiting IS a problem.  The elite 2012 class had a lot to do with the success of the last two years and the 2013 class wasn't too far off either.  The 2014 class was a massive failure (neg away if you want, but it was) - unprecedented whiffing on Beilein and company's part.  They got Chatman but lost a ton of their first tier kids (e.g., Bates-Diop, Booker, Tate) many of whom they were in on early, before they blew up, a la Hardaway and Robinson in years past. They also of course whiffed on some elite guys they pursued, but that's expected.  They also backed off guys like Bolden and Bluitt for reason unknown (though possibly legit). It's fine to take sleepers here and there to buttress your program and fill needs (a la Albrecht, LeVert, etc.) but when you take 4 of these guys at once you're really not very likely to be in the Sweet 16 consistently.

2015 looks even worse, unfortunately. They've talked to a lot of elite kids and got close maybe on Brunson but nothing panned out.  Guys like McQuaid and Granderstaff were backed off from in order to accept Duncan Robinson. Maybe that's the right call, maybe not. In any case, 2015 is looking like a total whiff. In back to back classes this is a serious dangerzone. [Sorry guys, I'm not going to buy into this hype on Jaylen Brown until it goes WAY beyond "might visit".  But he would obviously change the narrative dramatically.]

If LeVert and either Walton or Irvin go pro this team is going to face a severe athleticism disadvantage in 2015-16.  At this point, all of our eggs are in the 2016 basket. Otherwise it's back to the Novak/Harris/Sims era teams.  Far from disaster, but if you want to see the Final 4, you better have some NBA-caliber talent.

Also, it is a shame that we seem to barely even get in on the elite in-state prospects: Josh Jackson, Ed Davis, James Young, Jaylen Johnson.  I'm not a big believer in caring about the instate thing (fire Rich Rod!!!) but it does seem like these guys are walking away without much of a fight.


October 28th, 2014 at 3:07 PM ^

Within some a healthy standard deviation you can see where the program was tracking. It was consistently positive going up from the first Novak/Douglass class to the 2012 class.  The 2013 class was really good, but a notch back.  The 2014 and 2015 classes have been a huge regression.

Arguing that will not be reflected in the team's performance is hoping for an exception to the rule.