The Wolverine

February 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 11 of 187

M ichigan basketball fans an- ticipate senior captain Caris LeVert's return to the lineup like a Sahara sojourner anticipates an ice-cold Pepsi. The national player of the year candidate could make the differ- ence between solid and special for John Beilein's bunch. And who could have ever called that shot four years ago? Not many in college basketball, for certain. That's why LeVert found himself headed to Ohio University, in the Mid-American Conference, five years ago. The only reason LeVert isn't tear- ing it up in Athens, Ohio, involves the coach to whom he once commit- ted, John Groce, taking a job in the Big Ten. Groce bolted for Illinois, LeVert began looking around and Beilein is always looking. It seems like Beilein's always find- ing, as well. Yes, he's pulled in play- ers with the "NBA-Bound" stamp on their forehead, like Mitch McGary. But Beilein and his staff have culled three-star prep performers such as Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, send- ing both to the pros while watching Burke rise to con- sensus national player of the year honors. Even more as- tounding, Beilein & Co. reel in players bound for the MAC, or not even consid- ered MACaliber, and develop them into major contributors. As much as any other attribute Beilein brings to Crisler Center, he has the ability to recognize and shape overlooked talent, which has made Michigan basketball a re- sounding success in recent years. College basketball recruiting re- mains as clean as a T-shirt after a Tough Mudder competition. Beilein won't wade into the muck. That leaves many in awe of his ability to continually put competitive squads on the court. While some gather NBA talent via Jim Tressel-like chicanery and duplicity, Beilein plays it straight. To WOLVERINE WATCH   JOHN BORTON John Beilein's All- Discovery Team Senior guard Caris LeVert was posting career-high per-game averages in scoring (17.6), rebounding (5.4) and assists (5.2) before being grounded with a leg injury after 14 games . PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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