The Wolverine

October 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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42 THE WOLVERINE OCTOBER 2020 BY CHRIS BALAS J uwan Howard was a hot commod- ity even before he accepted the U-M head basketball coaching job last year, having interviewed with some NBA teams and being vetted by others. It was only a mild surprise, then, when his name surfaced as a poten- tial NBA candidate in late August, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski tweet- ing that Howard was "gaining trac- tion" among NBA executives. It would only have been shocking if Howard admitted he was seriously considering it. His son, Jace, is a fresh- man this year, after all, and his younger son, class of 2022 Jett Howard — now a reported 6-7 and's No. 60 junior nationally out of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy — is expected to join his dad and brother in Ann Arbor in a couple years. As expected, Howard shot the ru- mors down quickly. In the aftermath, some openly won- dered about the source of the rumors. A few floated the idea that opposing rival coaches might have been the cul- prits, given how well Howard's been recruiting since he arrived in Ann Ar- bor, including last year's No. 14 class nationally and a four-man 2021 class that ranked No. 6 as of Sept. 21. While others might roll their eyes at such a conspiracy theory, there's no question Howard has made an impact. He has added Henderson (Nev.) Coronado 6-1 four-star point guard Frankie Collins, 6-5 four-star combo guard Kobe Bufkin of Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian, 6-8 three- star power forward Will Tschetter of Stewartville (Minn.) High and 6-6 four-star wing Isaiah Barnes (6-6, No. 112) of Chicago Simeon to the Wolverines' commitment list, and he is probably not done yet. That group alone would constitute a great class. While Collins dropped from No. 69 to No. 73 in the recently updated Rivals ranking, he is an out- standing ball handler and finisher who needs work on his shot. He is ranked as the No. 14 point guard na- tionally in the 2021 class. Bufkin, who moved from No. 61 to No. 60 in the Rivals rankings, contin- ues to raise his game. He can handle the ball, shoot it off the dribble and is the top-rated player in the state of Michigan. Barnes slid two spots from No. 110 to No. 112, but has as much potential to rise as anyone. There's just not a lot of new film on him after a quiet summer. In the frontcourt, Tschetter drops to No. 148 from No. 141. He had a solid summer off the beaten path, playing AAU ball in his home state. Regardless of what happens with the remaining targets (and yes, the Wolverines would like to sign one more, if not two), U-M's haul appears destined to finish not only ahead of last year's, but also as one of the best in recent memory. Former head coach John Beilein signed 12 full classes during his time at Michigan and brought in more than a trio of four- or five-star pros- pects in a single year just once, sign- ing four total in 2018. One more four or five-star commitment in the 2021 cycle would match Beilein's best haul, and two more would surpass it. MICHIGAN'S RECENT FOUR- AND FIVE-STAR SIGNEES • 2008 — 0 • 2009 — 1 four-star (point guard Dar- ius Morris) • 2010 — 1 four-star (forward Evan Smotrycz) • 2011 — 1 four-star (shooting guard Carlton Brundidge) • 2012 — 1 five-star (small forward Glenn Robinson) and 2 four-stars (cen- ter Mitch McGary and shooting guard Nik Stauskas) • 2013 — 1 five-star (wing Zak Irvin) and 2 four-stars (point guard Derrick Walton and center Mark Donnal) • 2014 — 2 four-stars (small forward Kam Chatman and power forward D.J. Wilson) • 2015 — 1 four-star (forward Moritz Wagner) • 2016 — 2 four-stars (point guard Za- vier Simpson and center Jon Teske) • 2017 — 1 four-star (shooting guard Jordan Poole) • 2018 — 1 five-star (forward Ignas Brazdeikis) and 3 four-stars (forward Brandon Johns, guard David DeJulius and center Colin Castleton) • 2019 — 2 four-stars (wing Franz Wag- ner and shooting guard Cole Bajema) • 2020 — 3 four-stars (center Hunter Dickinson, guard Zeb Jackson and for- ward Terrance Williams) SOME 2021 TARGETS ARE OFF THE BOARD, BUT SEVERAL REMAIN The search to add to that list con- tinues, and while several former Michigan targets have made com- mitments to other schools, a number of recruits still remain. U-M has room for at least two more and is planning a six-man class, though Howard and his staff could settle for five. The biggest one who got away — five-star wing Harrison Ingram, a 6-7 standout out of Dallas St. Mark's. Howard did a great job playing catch- up with's No. 9 senior na- BASKETBALL RECRUITING Juwan Howard Is Here To Stay, And He's Recruiting Like It The No. 60 overall recruit in the country according to, 6-5 combo guard Kobe Bufkin of Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian is the highest-rated player in U-M's four-man group of 2021 commitments. As of Sept. 21, the class was ranked No. 6 nationally. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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