The Wolverine

February 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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44 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2019 Ohio basketball scene, after his dad's job change took the family to Medina, just 33 miles south of Cleveland. Jon had shot up from 6-1 to 6-8 between seventh and eighth grade, and just kept growing. So did his college prospects, after he averaged 16.4 points and 10.0 rebounds as a senior, becoming a finalist for the Associated Press Ohio Mr. Basketball award. Beilein sees potential and witnessed plenty in the seven-footer. Teske visited Michigan and saw that the place he rooted against as a youth was about to become the venue of his college growth and incredible memories. "I just fell in love with Michigan," Teske recalled. "Now I can't stand my friends back home when they talk about Ohio State. I say, 'Yeah, whatever.' "I'm still a huge Cleveland Browns, Indians and Cavs fan, but I just can't stand [Ohio State's] fans anymore." He makes some exceptions, like his dad and his uncles. They're major Jon Teske fans and — like many Ohioans with a relative playing at Michigan — willingly wear the colors. But they're not long-term converts. "They definitely all love Michigan basketball and what I'm doing right now, but other than that, they don't really mess with Michigan," Teske said, with a laugh. "I'm fine with that, as long as you're rooting for me and the team. I can deal with that. "They never thought I would end up at the University of Michigan. It's just great to see them cheering. I love seeing them in the block 'M' and the maize and blue. That's funny to see." They've certainly seen plenty of success. Teske's tenure over his first two seasons in Beilein's program included two runs to the Big Ten Tournament title and last season's fight all the way to the national championship game. Teske's personal growth — from averaging 3.1 minutes per game as a freshman to donning a starter's shoes as a junior — has been impressive, like Martin noted. Some of the most intense growth took place last summer, after Wagner declared for the NBA Draft. Teske knew his time had come, provided he earned it. He stayed in Ann Arbor over the summer, taking one class and spending almost all of the rest of his time on basketball. He'd make the two-hour, 45-minute drive home on many weekends, or head to Grand Rapids to see his grandparents, but he remained on a mission in the gym. It translated into winning the starting job, a huge departure from what he was doing last season. He still enjoyed many strong moments then, including coming through with 14 points in a Big Ten Tournament win over Purdue. "I knew what Moe was going to bring to the table," Teske said. "I just had to be there if something happened to him, or if he got in foul trouble. We made the run in the Big Ten Tournament and then to the championship game. … "It was just knowing my role, helping the team. It was coming off the bench if Moe needed a break, bringing a little energy, offensively, defensively, just helping my team win." Once the team hit tournament time, it just kept winning. Teske's experience in the NCAA Tournament gave him a taste of college basketball at its highest level. He relishes the memories of Michigan's six-game run, on the court and away from it. "It was a blast," Teske said. "It was a dream come true. Growing up, I always watched the tournament. When I was in elementary school, we begged the teachers to put it on. "To make it that far, to Monday night, it was a blessing. We want to get back there. It was an awesome experience. "Being with the team, traveling all around the country … not a whole lot of people get to do that. We had the Big Ten [Tournament] in New York. Then we went to Wichita, then we went to L.A., then we went to San Antonio. As of Jan. 21, Teske ranked first in the Big Ten with 2.3 blocks per game and 15th in rebounding (6.7 per contest). PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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