The Wolverine

February 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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62 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2017 BY CHRIS BALAS M ichigan head coach John Beilein hasn't had an easy go of it the last three years, sabotaged by inju- ries, early departures and a team this year that's struggling on defense, but there's help on the way. Michigan's three-man 2017 recruit- ing class has continued to play ex- tremely well. The headliner, La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere's Jordan Poole, is showing he might be underrated as the No. 97 player in the country. Poole, who was nominated for the prestigious McDonald's All-Ameri- can Game, was averaging 14.8 points per game and shooting just less than 50 percent from long range as of Jan. 15 for a loaded — and by loaded, we mean USA Today's No. 1 team in the country loaded — La Lumiere squad. He scored 18 in a nationally tele- vised win over New Albany (Ind.) Prep Dec. 15, including four triples from way out, proving he could play on the big stage. He scored 21 points to lead his team to an 86-63 win over Oldsmar (Fla.) Christian Dec. 21, be- fore struggling to a four-point game in a 70-56 win over Hamilton Heights (Tenn.) Christian the following night. Poole made five of his nine triples in the win over Oldsmar. He scored 18 in a Dec. 23 win over Columbia (S.C.) Keenan; 19 points in an 88-43 victory against Aberdeen Central Dec. 30 in the Mike Miller Classic in Sioux Falls, S.D.; 10 in an 85-44 win over Cleveland Villa-An- gela St. Joseph Jan. 6; and 11 in a na- tionally televised loss to Sierra Can- yon (Calif.) High Jan. 16, the team's first setback of the year. "I came here [from Milwaukee Ru- fus King] to get ready for college, to try to put myself in the best possible situation to come in and make an impact," Poole said. "The life aspect of it, as far as preparing for college … waking up, making sure I get to class on time and a lot of individual stuff, just the whole thing, is getting me ready for college. "It's a lot of little stuff like that that I was going to get in college, but I got it a year before." It's been a tougher adjustment for his mother than him, Poole quipped, noting she texts two or three times in the morning and often at night when she's not calling. On the court, Poole has settled in and proven he deserves his spot among the elite, including a pair of five-stars in big man teammates Brian Bowen and Jaren Jackson. "I love it here," Poole said. "We do it like Coach B. does it — a lot of talent, but a lot of personality jelling, too. We all really get along. We've all got good personalities, are all posi- tive. Being around a group of guys like that makes it way more fun. "Chemistry really helps. The more chemistry you have, the more team success you'll have. In AAU ball sometimes you have individu- als with a different focus who want to show out as an individuals. Here you have guys who simply want to win and want the best for everybody else." Poole has always been a good shooter, but not having to carry the onus as the only scorer has helped expand his game. He can get to the rim, he's an outstanding passer and his defense is improving. As a sniper, though, he might be one of the best in the country. His teammates often shout "layup" when he pulls one behind the arc. "Every day in practice, every time I shoot the ball everybody on the team thinks it's going in," he said. "When so many people have con- fidence in you like that, it boosts your own confidence. When coach gives you the green light to shoot it and says hand down, man down if you're taking an open shot, that makes all the difference. "As soon as I cross half-court, my hands go up and I feel like I can make a shot. That's how I feel." Poole has hit some 28-footers this year, and he'll bring some much- needed swagger to the program next year. He'll also bring a teammate's mentality and great size (6-4 at the guard position), hopeful to make an immediate impact. JUNIOR PLEDGE DAVID DEJULIUS OF DETROIT FACES SIGNEE ISAIAH LIVERS OF KALAMAZOO What was supposed to be a show- down between two of the state's top teams — and a pair of future Wol- verines — never really became the barnburner many hoped. Detroit East English Village 2018 point guard and U-M pledge David DeJulius and Kalamazoo Central power forward and Michigan signee Isaiah Livers, however, put on a show in a 73-63 East English win at the fifth annual Floyd Mayweather Basketball Classic at Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills High School Jan. 14. The two didn't even look at each other before the game or even ac- knowledge one another. "Strictly business at that point," DeJulius said with a smile after put- ting up 28 points. But the two exchanged hugs, talked and stood for pictures after- ward with their fingers in the block M pose.   BASKETBALL RECRUITING Signee Jordan Poole Is Shining Among Stars rates guard Jordan Poole — who plays for USA Today 's No. 1 team nationally, La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere — as the No. 97 overall prospect in the class of 2017. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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