The Wolverine

June-July 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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22 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2021   2021 BASKETBALL RECRUITING ISSUE BY CHRIS BALAS T he University of Michigan prides itself on diversity, welcoming students of all races, nationalities and backgrounds. It seems only natural that its basket- ball program has followed suit. Just as the school produces the best of the best students from anywhere and every- where, former and current basketball coaches John Beilein and Juwan How- ard have developed some elite inter- national basketball talent. From the Wagner brothers (Germans Moritz and Franz) to Canadians Nik Stauskas and Ignas Brazdeikis, all were as good as or better than advertised, bringing team success and opening doors to more outstanding international players. The newest import — Mississauga, Ontario's Caleb Houstan — will enter more highly rated than any of them, coming to U-M from elite Montverde (Fla.) Academy listed as's No. 8 senior nationally. Many believe the 6-8 Canadian standout might become the best of a bunch that in- cludes one NBA lottery pick (Staus- kas), a first-rounder in Moe Wagner and another projected lottery pick this year in Franz Wagner. That might seem like a lot of pres- sure for an 18-year-old kid. Houstan, though, isn't an ordinary teen- ager. When it became clear that he'd have a c h a n c e t o play basketball at the highest level, he was proactive — at 15 years old — in insisting Mont- verde was the place he needed to be to hone his game against the best of the best. After some heart-to-heart talks and plenty of research, his parents allowed him to leave the nest a bit earlier than most. It wasn't easy, his mother admitted. "That was a tough day," Andrea Houstan recalled. "What was he, 15? But you know what? He played here and wanted to go even a year earlier than that, and I wasn't even having that discussion at that point. So he played with the seniors, played with kids three or four years older, and he was doing his thing." So well and convincingly that he tried again the following year, this time with a little more persuasion. "He came and said, 'Mom, I have to go,'" she recalled. "'I want to play — have to play — against the best. I want to get challenged.' "But it's one thing when they're 18 and you're preparing for them to go to college. You're really not prepared for him to leave when he's 15. Board- ing schools weren't in our world growing up." It was tough on all of them, includ- ing Houstan. His parents made it a point, however, to make sure they wouldn't go longer than a month or so without visiting him, and they still saw many of his games in person. The move proved to be even better than hoped. Houstan did just what he set out to do, quickly rising into the 2021 class' top 10 with a game well be- yond his years. He was elite on a team of North America's best players, becoming a slasher from the wing and a knockdown shooter con- sidered by many analysts to be the best three-pointer gunner in his class. Week after week he put up huge numbers to help keep Montverde at or near the top of the national stand- ings. Then, on national TV and on the biggest stage at GEICO Nationals, Houstan scored nine of his 16 points down the stretch, including a couple dagger triples, to lead Montverde to a national title with a win over Sun- rise Academy. CANADIAN SNIPER Five-Star Signee Caleb Houstan Is An Elite Shooter … And So Much More Houstan on the U-M coaching staff "They said they want me to come in and be someone who can con- tribute right away."

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