The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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86 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2018 BY CHRIS BALAS M ichigan's 2019 recruiting class will likely be a small one — as such, head coach John Beilein has been careful with the offers. Two have gone out to in-state pros- pects Romeo Weems of New Ha- ven (Mich.) High (6-5,'s No. 26 prospect nationally) and De- troit Old Redford's Mark "Rocket" Watts (6-2,'s No. 64 ju- nior in the country). Weems was averaging 26.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 4.4 steals per game as of early Febru- ary, and Watts was at 24 points per game. Combined, the two were right around the production of the latest to earn an offer — Glens Falls (N.Y.) High standout shooting guard Joe Gi- rard III (6-1,'s No. 126 re- cruit in the land), who recently broke his state's scoring record as a junior and was averaging an amazing 50.1 points per game as of Feb. 15. Michigan offered Girard a schol- arship in late January, after Beilein saw him put up 52 points in a game. Three days later, Girard broke the scoring record when he poured in 44 points — a season low — in a 74-68 win over Amsterdam (N.Y.) High. Girard's father, Joe Jr., played for Beilein at LeMoyne College many years ago, and the two have re- mained close. Girard's cousin Rob Girard is his head coach, and there are four other Girards on the varsity team … all cousins. "He didn't play great and had to force a few," Rob Girard recalled of his cousin's 52-point game in front of Beilein. "He didn't feel good about himself after the game. "Coach Beilein talked to me after- ward. He was so impressed with his release and the way he got to the basket. Joe didn't think he played well, but Coach B. can see what kind of player he is." Girard has since picked up offers from Oklahoma, Syracuse, Ohio State, Penn State and others. He re- cently visited OSU and enjoyed the trip, but U-M has been on him as long as anyone. He was touted as the "next Jimmer Fredette," the Glens Falls product and former National Player of the Year at BYU, starting at 10 years old. Both have quick releases and are elite scorers. "He started playing varsity ball in eighth grade," Rob Girard said. "My first thing when talking about bring him up to varsity was I thought JV might be a better fit that year." He took a chance, though, and was rewarded. "He went out and scored 31 points in his first game," Rob Girard re- called with a laugh. "That shows what I know." He also hit the game-winner against 18-year-olds, at which point his father knew he probably had something special. "We've always had a rich tradition, then we had Jimmer … Glens Falls basketball has always been very, very good. I don't think they've ever had an eighth grader make varsity, and not only make it but be a starter," the elder Girard said of his son. "You realize you're seeing something spe- cial. It just came down to things you can't teach, like how big is he going to get, that type of stuff. "Once the height came with it, we knew he was going to be okay." Beilein still needs to see how his roster shakes out before accepting a commitment, and Girard still has more to see. As of now, the Wolver- ines are one over with 14 scholar- ships (for 13 spots) for the 2018-19 season and would have no room for 2019 prospects, though attrition is usually the norm. "Coach Beilein said he just real- ized, 'After he dropped 54 in front of me, I want to make the offer of- ficial,'" Girard Jr. said. "He knew the way he played in Nike EYBL [Elite Youth Basketball League], the way he played a level up, that he could play there." Girard finished in the top five in the EYBL in makes and was eighth in three-point percentage at 44.3 against some of the best competition in the country. Even at 6-2 (in shoes) he's able to get his jump shot off over lengthier defenders with an incred- ibly quick release and a feel for the game few have. His father was emotional when his son received the Michigan offer. "Without a doubt, I teared up, be- cause Coach Beilein is a great man, just genuine, and I have lifelong les- sons from him," he said. "If it works out to where my child gets the chance to play for him, if it's the right fit and place for Joe, I know he'll be in good hands. "Plus, when you work so hard … when you're a little kid, we all have a favorite team. When he was little, Michigan was his team because of my coach being there. "Obviously he's older now and Joe is going to figure it out for himself, who his team is and what's going on, but I know Joe was really working hard for that. "When you get a Michigan offer from Coach Beilein, it's coveted, be- cause he doesn't offer many kids … it's an honor, and I think it validates   BASKETBALL RECRUITING John Beilein Extends A Third Offer In The 2019 Class Glens Falls (N.Y.) High shooting guard Joe Girard III, who broke his state's scoring record as a junior and was averaging 50.1 points per game as of mid-February, picked up a scholarship offer from Michigan in late January. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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