The Wolverine

December 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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DECEMBER 2017 THE WOLVERINE 61 BY CHRIS BALAS M ichigan head coach John Beilein signed five players in November, a group that makes up's No. 8 class in the country. Beilein has used the same vetting process he always has to make sure he brings high-character student-ath- letes to Michigan — and there's one other thing in particular he wants in a prospect. "Do they have a unique interest in Michigan," he said. "If they didn't, we'll move on so fast. We tell them, 'Come visit us.' We're four hours away [from a lot of them]. "If he doesn't come visit us, he's not interested, and it's okay. If we've got to go to Berlin to find a guy, we'll go to Berlin." It's easy to tell, he said, when the interest is real. "I can tell on the phone in a min- ute," he said. "'Michigan? … I loved Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, The Fab Five.' I want the guys that either iden- tify with us or the Big Ten. … If we're one of 10, we're out. That's wasted time, and we don't have time. You've got to get the guys that you can get." One of the gems of the five-man class came to Michigan a big fan of former Wolverine and fellow Cana- dian Nik Stauskas. Mono (Ontario) Orangeville Prep's Ignas "Iggy" Brazdeikis also happens to be friends with Stauskas, who has called him a future pro. The 6-8 forward — a four-star talent who would be ranked as a top-40 prospect if he played in the U.S., according to an- alyst Eric Bossi — has played the last three seasons at Orangeville Prep. He was named an Ontario Scho- lastic Basketball Association (OSBA) All-Star as well as the league's MVP after averaging 30.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game as a junior. He was also the OSBA Tournament MVP after guiding Orangeville to the title with a dramatic 99-97 victory over TRC Academy in the championship game. In addition to his prep play, Braz- deikis has been a valued member of the Canadian National Team program. He helped Team Canada win the silver medal while playing with the U16 team at the FIBA Americas Cham- pionship two years ago, averaging 9.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in the tournament. The following year, he averaged 14.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest while helping Canada to a fifth-place showing at the U17 FIBA World Championships in Spain. "Ignas is a dynamic player with the ability to impact the game in a variety of ways because of his size, length, athleticism and overall skill set," Beilein said. "Iggy is a terrific stu- dent-athlete whose character, work ethic and passion will allow him to embrace and enhance the culture and core values within our program. "Our players and staff are incred- ibly excited about his commitment and look forward to his further growth before joining us." Brazdeikis said Michigan was his "perfect fit," and told Mr. Basketball Live on YouTube that getting his re- cruitment over with took a "load off my shoulders." "For a lot of people I feel like the decision for what college they go to is difficult, but for me it was a clear choice," he said. "Michigan has ev- erything for me. Every box I had to check with colleges, it checked right away. "I really knew after the official visit that was where I wanted to go. The connection my family and I built with Coach Beilein, and the rest of the coaching staff, made it easy. The academic portion of it is amazing, and the basketball itself, with the Big Ten Conference, is incredible. It just had everything for me." Of those boxes, one big one stood out. "It's probably the biggest decision of my life so far, and it's not an easy decision," he continued. "Building a good relationship with the coaching staff is very important, because these are people you're going to be with for a long time, and for the rest of your life they're going to be family. They are people you want to spend a lot of time with and be around. "Is this school going to help me get to my goal, to play in the NBA? Mich- igan was definitely a spot that could get me there with Coach Beilein and the other coaches helping." He continues to develop his rela- tionship with Beilein, he told us in the days after his signing. "It's been great," he said. "Our connection has grown through the   BASKETBALL RECRUITING A Top-10 Haul national recruiting analyst Eric Bossi noted that Canadian import Ignas Brazdeikis of Mono (Ontario) Orangeville would be ranked as a top-40 prospect if he played in the United States. PHOTO BY JORDAN WELLS

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