The Wolverine

June-July 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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18 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2021   2021 BASKETBALL RECRUITING ISSUE BY CHRIS BALAS I n the saturated recruiting analy- sis market, a game only a few of us were playing a few de- cades ago, prep standouts have to pick and choose who gets their time. Countless texts, phone calls and Twitter messages can easily turn off a kid from talking to the media, and most are so enveloped in their gym and workout time that they don't distinguish one outlet from the next. Four-star point guard signee Frankie Collins has been inundated with calls for the last two-plus years. When it came time to interview him, however, he was more than gracious with his time. And before we could text to thank him for it after a great conversation, his own message came through from the other end. "Thank you!" he wrote. "I really hope everything is well with you and you're being safe out there!" That was 'wow' moment No. 1 in putting this issue together. Likewise, assistant Phil Martelli, after nearly an hour on the phone during his supposed "downtime," insisted on expressing gratitude to us for our time. "Thanks for including me," he said, like he always does. Those are examples of the class and culture that embodies the program. The Michigan staff has the former and continued the latter, and has a good idea what they're looking for in a recruit beyond just 'plays great basketball.' They have pretty much guaranteed the culture will remain strong by adding kids like Collins, Montverde (Fla.) Academy five-star Caleb Houstan and the entire half- dozen the program will welcome in the summer. "Like all of the freshmen, he's a really good, genuine kid that fits our culture," is what assistant coach Saddi Washington said after discuss- ing Houstan, making it clear watch- ing film wasn't all they were doing when deciding who they'd offer. They were doing their homework. Head coach Juwan Howard did his, too, when he put his staff to- gether, starting with keeping Wash- ington as the lone holdover from John Beilein's assistant pool. He had spoken with his predecessor along with many others, making Washing- ton the de facto liaison from one staff to the next in an effort to keep the great culture in place and make for a seamless transition. That's a lot of pressure, but Wash- ington said it never seemed that way for one reason in particular. "It wasn't hard because it was clear Coach [Howard] had a very clear plan and clear vision that he was prepared to communicate to the cur- rent roster, the future roster and the prospects we were recruiting," Wash- ington said. "I felt like my niche in that whole transitional process was really just helping him kind of get caught up to speed with guys that ONE FOR THE AGES Juwan Howard's No. 1-Ranked Recruiting Class Was A Team Effort Head coach Juwan Howard and his assistants — Howard Eisley, Phil Martelli and Saddi Washington — assembled the nation's No. 1-ranked recruiting class according to and ESPN. 247Sports listed it second nationally. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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