The Wolverine

February 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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  WHERE ARE THEY NOW? BY JOHN BORTON G avin Groninger guides bud- ding shooters these days, back in Plainfield, Ind., a few three-point- ers southwest of Indianapolis. He's happy, settled, in the community of roughly 30,000 that his family has long called home. His junior varsity players at Plain- field High often ask him about the best player he ever guarded on his northern sojourn involving basket- ball at the University of Michigan (1999-2003). Groninger can still flip on the television and show them. The Wolverines didn't experience huge on-court success in the star- crossed crossover from head coaches Brian Ellerbe to Tommy Amaker in those years. They had chances, but they always seemed to dematerialize — just like Jamal Crawford did after 17 games in a Michigan uniform. Groninger remembers it well. "I get the question all the time, 'Who was the best player in college you ever played against,'" Gron- inger mused. "I remind people, 'Ja- mal Crawford was on my team for a year.' I only had to guard guys like [Indiana's] A.J. Guyton once or twice a year, but I had to guard that kid ev- ery day. He did some amazing things in games and in practice." The amazement started very early, Groninger noted. Crawford marked the gem of a five-player recruiting class that included local standout LaVell Blanchard, eventual Big Ten Freshman of the year Kevin Gaines, Leland Anderson and Groninger. Four of them arrived early, to get some classwork under their belts in the summer. Crawford didn't show up until later. But when he arrived, he really showed up, Groninger recalled. "He got there a couple of weeks late," Groninger explained. "I had al- ready been in the flow, playing open gym. We had an open gym, and Jamal had flown from Washington to Michi- gan, gotten off the plane and gone straight to open gym. "The first thing I ever saw Jamal do at Michigan was in a pickup game. The first time he touched the ball, he came off a ball screen and a big guy switched on him — it was Chris Young. Jamal took the basketball, and he put it between Chris Young's legs and caught it on the other side. He put it back between his legs, and shot a jump shot from three-point range and made it. "Literally, in the middle of the pickup game, everybody just stopped, like what just happened? That's the first interaction I had with Jamal, and from there on, we all knew he was a special player." Seventeen games later, he'd never be seen again on the court for the Wol- verines. Michigan sat him down due to NCAA concerns about a mentor giving special benefits to Crawford   WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Gavin Groninger Is Coaching Back Home In Indiana

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