The Wolverine

September 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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60 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2019 BY CHRIS BALAS N ew Michigan head coach Juwan Howard has put himself in po- sition to be in position (as former coach John Beilein used to like to say) for some of the nation's top recruits, and the momentum has continued to build over the summer. Howard landed four-star 2019 guard Franz Wagner (6-8, 205) out of Germany, held on to the pledge of four-star 2020 guard Zeb Jackson (6-3, 165,'s No. 54 senior nationally) and is lining up several visitors for early fall. Count's Corey Evans among those impressed with How- ard's early recruiting efforts. "While John Beilein did not shy away from recruiting some of the best in the high school landscape, it pales in comparison to the big-game hunting that Juwan Howard has been doing since his hiring," Evans said this summer. "Already sitting with a four-star commitment from Zeb Jackson out of Montverde (Fla.) Academy via Toledo, Ohio, Michigan has found itself on the final lists of a handful of elite prospects. "… Can they close with any of the Rivals150 prospects? And, if so, with how many? I think they come up short in most cases. I don't see a top- five recruiting class in the cards for the Wolverines, but I do see a top-20 group." One that could be highlighted by Jackson and five-star guard Nimari Burnett of Napa (Calif.) Prolific Prep, he added. They'll both visit this fall, and Burnett (6-4, 180,'s No. 23 player in the nation) is really starting to feel Michigan. Burnett is more of a shooting guard than point guard, but the team that lands him will preach that he can play both and handle the ball. His top five schools are Michigan, Texas Tech, Oregon, Louisville and Alabama. "I'm very versatile and can play on and off the ball," he said. "But … I definitely would like to play on the ball." He told us he plans to visit Ann Arbor Sept. 5-8 when the Michigan football team plays Army. He is origi- nally from Chicago, and his family has a close relationship with How- ard, so there's a legit shot U-M could land him. He also confirmed Aug. 9 he was feeling good about the Wolverines. "I've known [Howard] since I was 7 or 8, and talk to him almost every day," Burnett said. "We have a great relationship, and he's a really good recruiter. "He's definitely very outgoing, he keeps the conversation going and he has a very good personality." Burnett is also a good friend of Jace Howard (6-7, 210), Juwan's son and a three-star prospect out of Holly- wood (Fla.) University School, and it is possible the two will officially visit at the same time. Howard trav- eled to Ann Arbor Aug. 9 for a visit and will take an official in September, and it wouldn't surprise at all if he was on campus the same weekend as Burnett. Howard could very well end up in this class, but Brown and Saint Louis are two others he'll be visiting in Sep- tember, and Cleveland State will get an unofficial in August. Though he's still progressing as a player, Howard is a glue guy with improving skills and could be a solid addition to the roster, perhaps more down the road. One more visit has already been set in stone for that weekend — forward Lance Ware (6-9, 205,'s No. 52 prospect in the country) of Camden (N.J.) Big Picture Learning Academy. U-M was all over Ware under for- mer head coach John Beilein, and Howard has picked up the interest since then. Ware named his top five in late July — Michigan, Miami, Provi- dence, Ohio State and Kentucky. Ware had been under the radar a bit before averaging 14.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game at Nike's Peach Jam in South Carolina this July. Kentucky offered, and Rivals. com's Eric Bossi insisted, "the Wild- cats should immediately be deemed the favorite for him," noting Ware was also due for a big jump in the ratings. "We are in total agreement that we have Ware underrated, and we spent much of July wondering why elite college hoops programs weren't all over him," Bossi said. "He is quick, he has touch, he causes nightmares for other bigs when attacking off the dribble from the high post and he's learning to play from inside out to maximize his quickness advantage." In addition to Michigan, he will visit Ohio State Sept. 1, Providence Sept. 12 and Miami Sept. 28. He is still working on his Kentucky visit. OTHER VISITORS LINING UP In addition to the Sept. 5 weekend visitors, several others are in the pro- cess of lining up their own officials. Five-star big man Walker Kessler is in the books for Aug. 31 weekend, when Michigan football opens with Middle Tennessee State.   BASKETBALL RECRUITING Big Visit Weekends Are On Tap For Michigan Five-star guard Nimari Burnett of Napa (Calif.) Prolific Prep, the No. 23 prospect in the senior class according to, plans to offi- cially visit Michigan the weekend of the Sept. 7 football game versus Army. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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