The Wolverine

May 2021 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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56 THE WOLVERINE MAY 2021 BY CHRIS BALAS J uwan Howard and Michigan fell just short of the Final Four, losing to UCLA in the Elite Eight, but the program did add a national cham- pion to the squad. Montverde (Fla.) Academy's Caleb Houstan (6-8, 200) scored 16 points to help lead his team to a 62-52 victory over Bel Aire (Kan.) Sunrise Academy April 3 in the Geico High School Basketball National Championships. Houstan,'s No. 8 senior nationally, started slowly but made 4 of 9 triples, including two big ones in the fourth quarter. Montverde took an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter, but Sunrise made a run to cut it to 53-47 at the four-minute mark. Houstan hit a crucial triple from the top to stop the run, his third in eight attempts after he started 1 of 4. He'd been short on three of his attempts to that point, and even the one he made hit the front rim before rolling in on a friendly bounce. "The elevation isn't there in his legs. He's been a little off in this game," ESPN analyst Paul Biancardi said during the broadcast in the sec- ond quarter. But Houstan picked it up. He went 6 of 12 overall (0 of 1 from the free throw line) with 16 points, his last three-pointer the dagger with a min- ute to go that pushed the lead to 12. Houstan also made a short jumper, crashed the glass for a put-back and had a Franz Wagner-esque drive and finish, left to right down the middle of the lane, in the game. He finished high above the rim with his incredi- ble length after a running start on the one possession on which he attacked. "He can beat you off the bounce if he has to, but his calling card is the jump shot," Biancardi said. He'll likely get more opportunities in ball screens at U-M. Most of what he does looks effortless with his great body control, and his length makes it tough for players to finish over him. He plays the angles well defensively even when a guy gets a step on him, and his long arms are a major asset. Though he could be more aggres- sive, he played on a loaded team and often deferred to players like Jalen Duren ('s No. 2 senior na- tionally) and forward Dariq White- head (No. 15 in 2022). Some have compared Houstan to the NBA's Marcus Morris (Kansas), others to former Duke star Shane Battier. Whatever the comparison, he'll need to get stronger but has a bright future at Michigan. "I feel like the culture they're building there is something that I re- ally want to be a part of," he told The News-Press during the tournament. "It's only a couple months away, so I can't wait to get there and start working." Houstan led Montverde with 20 points in an 85-64 win over Oak Hill (Va.) Academy in the quarterfinals April 1, but struggled a day later in a 51-49 victory over Chandler (Ariz.) AZ Compass Prep in the semifinals. He was 1 of 7 with only three points until he made his presence felt with the game-winning tip-in with 17 sec- onds remaining. Those two points were huge, al- lowing his team to advance to the finals and capture a national title. "It's an amazing feeling to win this," he said. "It's hard to put into words what I'm feeling, but it's just overwhelming." U-M's other representative in the prep Final Four, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy's Moussa Diabate (6-9, 190,'s No. 26 senior nationally) played well, but IMG faded down the strength in a 70-63 loss to Sunrise Academy. The na- tional semifinal was a high-level con- test that featured nine lead changes. Signee Diabate and 2022 target   BASKETBALL RECRUITING Caleb Houstan Is A National Champion Houstan scored 16 points to lead Montverde (Fla.) Academy to a 65-52 victory over Bel Aire (Kan.) Sunrise Academy in the Geico High School Basketball National Championships. PHOTO COURTESY THE HOUSTAN FAMILY

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