The Wolverine

November 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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58 THE WOLVERINE NOVEMBER 2022 BY CHRIS BALAS M ichigan head basketball coach Ju- wan Howard is as big a U-M foot- ball fan as there is, and he said at his Oct. 14 media day that he couldn't wait for the next day's game against Penn State. He had even more reason to be excited — U-M basketball was hosting one of the nation's top senior big men for his second visit. Howard made South Kent (Conn.) School power forward Papa Kante (6-10, On3's No. 34 overall player nationally) his priority early in the process, never letting up even when other programs turned up the heat. That went a long way with Kante, who loved the personal attention from a coach who played in the NBA and has already won champi- onships at Michigan. Kante was spotted at the Michigan basketball practice following media day. "I have a great relationship with Coach Howard. He's texting me after every game and before games, good game or bad game," Kante said in Au- gust. "I still talk to him now, even though I'm back home [in Senegal, Af- rica]. I talked to [former Michigan big man] Moussa Diabate on the phone dur- ing my visit there. He was at pre-draft and told me how Michigan helped him to get better. "Coach Howard played in the league for 20 years and knows what it takes to get there. They say they're going to play me like they did Moussa or like [the Miami Heat's] Bam Adebayo. "They said they're going to let me shoot it, and they keep telling me how they will put me in a great position to succeed in life." On3 insider Jamie Shaw put the cur- rent odds at 75 percent for Michigan. We'll go even higher and believe Kante will end up a Wolverine soon. "Michigan head coach Juwan Howard made Kante a priority from the start," Shaw wrote. "He took a personal inter- est in the big man, and it has made an impression. "The visit went well, and the style of play and development intrigues Kante." We'll see if Kante announces his pledge soon or closer to the early sign- ing period in November. Either way, Michigan appears to be in great shape. Kante visited Rutgers in May, and Maryland and Michigan in June. He's also shown interest in Memphis. "He has really good upside since this will be his fourth year of playing orga- nized basketball," South Kent coach Ra- phael Chillious told Zags Blog. "He has a sharp mind for the game and picks up information quickly and immediately applies it to his game. "He's still learning how to be a more effective scorer with his back to the bas- ket and is still most comfortable facing up. He plays incredibly hard and with true toughness. He's an excellent passer out of the post and has really nice foot- work from being a former soccer player." Kante would be a great way to start the class. The Wolverines still hadn't had a '23 pledge through mid-October. Howard, though, didn't seem con- cerned about it when asked at Big Ten Media Day Oct. 12 why the Wolverines had yet to sign anyone from the senior class. "I don't know who's in a rush. Are you in a rush?" he asked rhetorically, noting there are two signing periods, one from Nov. 9-16 and the second that starts the second week of April. "There we go … that's the timetable." He also said he doesn't have a spe- cific formula when it comes to recruit- ing between the transfer portal and high school seniors. "It's always fluid," Howard said about his roster construction. "I don't have a formula." He'd rather not take too many from the portal, he added, even though he's had great success with the high charac- ter kids he's gotten. "It's nice to get the opportunity to build relationships with young men coming out of high school, getting to know their parents and seeing that they Papa Kante, a 6-foot-10 power forward and On3's No. 34 senior in the country, visited Michigan for the weekend of the Penn State football game, his second trip to Ann Arbor. PHOTO COURTESY PAPA KANTE BASKETBALL RECRUITING Michigan May Be On The Verge Of Its First Commitment In The 2023 Class

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