The Wolverine

August 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 25 of 83

26 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2019 BY CHRIS BALAS N ew Michigan head coach Juwan Howard wasn't on the job long when he started recruiting, and it began with a few kids already in the fold. John Beilein had received letters of intent from four-star power forward Jalen Wilson of Denton (Texas) High and four-star shooting guard Cole Bajema of Lynden (Wash.) Christian, and Howard's first job was to con- vince both that Ann Arbor was still the place for them. Wilson decided not to wait to hear Howard's pitch, opting out of his letter and eventually signing with Kansas. The 6-7, 180-pound Bajema — ranked as Rival's No. 98 senior na- tionally — was a bit more patient, and by the time Howard was introduced at his May 30 press conference, he already had good news to report. "I got a chance to talk to Cole Ba- jema on the phone, and I communi- cated with his parents, got the chance to understand them as a family," the coach said. "I know they're concerned with Cole's future. Cole was commit- ted to the University of Michigan thinking that John Beilein was going to be his head coach. "Now Cole has re-committed and will be signing his letter of intent soon to attend the University of Michigan." He had already signed and didn't need to re-sign, but it was a moot point. The point was he had chosen to remain with the program, Howard's first win on the recruiting trail. Bajema had gone silent for days while contemplating his future, but it didn't take much convincing to assure him he made the right choice. "I was just doing my research a little bit," Bajema said after enroll- ing at Michigan this summer. "I've known Juwan has always been a good guy, just hearing from many sources. I talked to people who told me good stuff about him. I just see it as a cool opportunity with him coming from the Fab Five. "He's got a great reputation and good coaching experience from the Miami Heat. I just thought it was a perfect opportunity, and just talking to him everything seemed positive." Bajema is the all-time leading scorer in Lynden Christian history, breaking the record Feb. 6 when he scored his 1,603rd point in a win over Bothell (Wash.) Cedar Park Christian during a district playoff game. He was named his state's Class 1A Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, av- eraging 24.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. His first challenge at U-M, though, had nothing to do with basketball. He is in the academic bridge pro- gram for freshman players, putting in more time in the classroom than on the court. He was learning his way around campus in July and adjusting to life hundreds of miles from home. "Everything has been good so far," he said. "I've been trying to make practices when I can with bridge. Some days I've got to leave early. I can shoot it better than what I have been lately, but it's just getting used to things. I'll be good." That he is even in this position would have seemed a long shot just over a year ago. He was barely on anyone's radar as a prospect, so his SHOOTING STAR Cole Bajema's Outside Prowess Stands Out, But His All-Around Game Could Make Him An Early Contributor Bajema compiled 24.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest as a senior for Lynden (Wash.) Christian on his way to earning his state's Class 1A Player of the Year award for the second straight year. PHOTO COURTESY LYNDEN TRIBUNE

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - August 2019