The Wolverine

June-July 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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34 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2020 2 0 2 0 B A S K E T B A L L R E C R U I T I N G I S S U E BY CHRIS BALAS J uwan Howard is off to a great start recruiting-wise, having landed the nation's No. 15 re- cruiting class in 2020, his first group. Michigan's head coach has yet to secure a 2021 pledge, but he has several offers out and will likely take at least six, possibly seven, play- ers from the rising senior class. Here is a list of U-M's 2021 offer- ees (who haven't committed to other schools or eliminated the Wolverines from contention) and where things stand with each: JALEN WARLEY 6-5 • 180 • PG Norristown (Pa.) Westtown Rivals' No. 27 2021 prospect Warley has long said a trustwor- thy coaching staff, a challenging schedule, a welcoming school c o m m u n i t y a n d a stimulating academic environment would be high on his list of priorities, and U-M fits the bill. It doesn't hurt, either, that his father and uncle both played for Michigan assistant Phil Martelli at St. Joseph's, while his uncle coached with him there as well. "Most of what I heard about him wasn't even related to basketball, but the kind of guy he is," Warley said. "My uncle said that was why he coached with him, because he knows what type of guy he is. "Things like that are definitely going to factor in [to a decision] … things like loyalty, connection with the coaching staff, stuff like that. That's what I'll be harping on." Local schools like Penn State, Pitt, Temple and others have been on him for a long time, but his recruitment has gone national after he averaged 14.0 points and 7.0 assists per game for a traditionally strong Westtown program. Memphis, North Carolina State, Marquette, Creighton, Miami, Louisville and Oregon offered ear- lier; U-M, though, has made a great impression, while North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia and Villanova have also emerged. "I've definitely watched them dur- ing the Juwan Howard era, been keeping tabs, and I watched the run with Nik Stauskas and Trey Burke a few years back," he said, noting he plans to see Ann Arbor when CO- VID-19 concerns are alleviated. KOBE BUFKIN 6-4 • 175 • SG Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian Rivals' No. 59 2021 prospect Michigan offered Bufkin in late April after he aver- aged 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 as- sists as a junior, shoot- ing 65 percent from floor and 34 percent from the three-point line to help Christian to a 20-2 record. Bufkin told his local TV station, WZZM Grand Rapids, he grew up in a family of Michigan fans. They visited Ann Arbor with him before the COVID-19 pandemic shut every- thing down. "My household was big on the Fab Five," Bufkin said. "It was a good experience for my family, who was more excited than I was." Recruiting has changed since, he added, but he's kept in touch with the Wolverines. "We've had a couple FaceTime [chats], but there's really not much you can do because you can't have any physical contact," he said. Missouri was another school that's been in contact, and the Tigers of- fered. While he has got several other offers, including in-state Michigan State, the absence of a spring AAU season has prevented him from po- tentially earning more. "Obviously with the AAU sea- son not being here, I don't know if I would have missed anything," he said. "It's just that speculation of not knowing what you could have got if you would have had that extra time to play." Regardless, he is happy with his current list. "I'm fine where I'm at," he said. "I'm just taking my time and seeing where other people go and basing it off what I want to do." JADEN AKINS 6-3 • 160 • SG Farmington (Mich.) High Rivals' No. 106 2021 prospect Michigan offered Akins this win- ter, but Michigan State is recruiting him hard. He is a good friend of 2021 MSU pledge and fel- low Detroiter Pierre Brooks, and there has been a lot of chatter that he'll follow his friend to East Lansing. "MSU is in an awe- some spot and could be rather picky for who it pushes for filling its back- court need," national re- cruiting analyst Corey Evans said. "[Chicago area five-star] Max Chris- tie is the better of the two prospects, but that is not said to slight Akins. Rather, it is more about addressing the idea of whether the Spartans want to hold Akins off from com- mitting, so it could get a better sense of where Christie sits before his fall commitment." Michigan is in on Christie as well. Akins saw U-M handle MSU in person this year, but he wants to bring his mother back to campus once things open back up. However, it appears Akins is leaning toward joining Brooks at MSU, and he didn't deny he was very interested in that. "I'm taking my time with my re- cruitment at the moment," he said in early May. "Michigan is still in the mix … we are building up the relationship, but Pierre and I have a connection from playing travel ball together, so it could be fun playing with him. But nothing is final right now." ON THE LOOKOUT Michigan Head Coach Juwan Howard Has Many 2021 Options

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