The Wolverine

September 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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72 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2016   COMMITMENT PROFILE Most felt Kalamazoo (Mich.) Cen‑ tral's Isaiah Livers would choose be‑ tween Michigan and Michigan State, and he did — but his decision was still somewhat of a surprise to many. The 6‑8, 210‑pound power forward,'s No. 114 senior nation‑ ally, picked the Wolverines over the Spartans Aug. 6, giving U‑M a head‑ to‑head recruiting win over one of its biggest basketball rivals. The class of 2017 forward becomes the third pledge in the class, joining guards Jordan Poole (6‑3,'s No. 102 senior nationally) of LaPorte (Ind.) La Lumiere, formerly of Mil‑ waukee King, and Eli Brooks (6‑1, not currently rated) of Spring Grove (Pa.) High. MSU was his childhood favorite, but Livers enjoyed an eye‑opening visit to Michigan in June. Head coach John Beilein told him then he'd watch him closely in July, informing Livers he was "right there" to receive an offer. Beilein extended it July 26. "They'd been watching me since the start of AAU ball," Livers said in the days leading to his decision. "I like how they go about things. I like the system, the coaching staff and the players they have now. Coach Beilein said he likes my character. He laughs every time we talk." Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, meanwhile, said he liked the way Livers carried himself on and off the court along with his basket‑ ball IQ. "He said, 'That's why I'm going to offer you,'" Livers recalled, adding it was "going to be a tough decision." MSU, in fact, seemed to have ev‑ erything going for it. His dad was supposedly in Michigan State's cor‑ ner, and the Spartans and Izzo have a recent history of getting players they offer from the state of Michi‑ gan. At one point, national and local prognosticators were unanimous in predicting he'd end up a Spartan. "I was looking at this crystal ball thing online, and everyone had me going to Michigan State," Livers said with a laugh. But U‑M had an ace in the hole in Beilein. He and Livers hit it off im‑ mediately when they first met and started bonding on Livers' first visit to Michigan this summer. By July they'd become good friends, Livers said. In early Au‑ gust he knew Beilein was the guy he wanted to play for. "I sat down and thought about it the other day, and I knew — I really liked the University of Michigan," he said Aug. 6. "I sat down with my par‑ ents and we talked … we all thought long and hard. "Basically when you cut all the schools down, one it's close to home, two it fits my playing style, and three Coach Beilein and I get along really well. We connect on every conversa‑ tion. He's always laughing, having fun when we're talking — and he's a baseball fan, like me." Beilein is a St. Louis Cardinals fan, while Livers is a Detroit Tigers guy, but no matter — they could talk baseball among other things. In mid‑ conversation, Livers let Beilein know he was coming to Michigan. "He was really happy," Livers said. "He told his wife right away when he was on the phone, then he said he was going to sit down and pour a glass of wine to celebrate." Livers averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds for Central last year en route to Class A second‑team All‑ State honors from The Detroit Free Press and honorable mention lau‑ rels from the Associated Press. He also posted a clip of 10 points per game this summer with a stacked Mean Streets AAU team run by for‑ mer Michigan and NFL receiver Tai Streets. He shot 40 percent from three‑point range this summer and became more aggressive in attacking the rim. "We haven't seen him as much as some other players, but he's capable of knocking down a 15‑footer, can finish with the best of them in transi‑ tion and checks all the boxes of a guy who could have a huge breakout,"'s Eric Bossi said early this summer. Livers met expectations. "Coach Beilein wants me at the three and the four [positions]," Liv‑ ers said. "He wants me out there to knock down those corner threes, bat‑ tle for and get a rebound or guard the four at the next level." Livers also held offers from Butler, Cal, Minnesota and several others. He'll spend the next few months in the weight room and on the court in preparation for his senior season. — Chris Balas In-State Standout Isaiah Livers Choose U-M Over Michigan State FILM EVALUATION Strengths: Isaiah Livers has great court awareness and is skilled for his size. He can put the ball on the floor and knocks down triples at a 40-percent clip. Areas Of Improvement: Though he plays hard, Livers tends to disap- pear at times when he's not aggres- sive, deferring to his teammates. His coaches have challenged him to at- tack the rim more often. Michigan Player Comparison: Livers is similar to former Michigan forward Jerod Ward (1990s) in his ability to shoot, and he's also got some bounce and a frame similar to early 1990s forward Olivier St. Jean. — Analysis from rates Livers — a 6‑8, 210‑pound power forward at Kalamazoo (Mich.) Central — as the No. 114 overall prospect in the class of 2017. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM's Eric Bossi on Livers "We haven't seen him as much as some other players, but he's capable of knocking down a 15-footer, can finish with the best of them in transition and checks all the boxes of a guy who could have a huge breakout."

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