The Wolverine

June July 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JUNE/JULY 2018 THE WOLVERINE 33   2018 BASKETBALL RECRUITING ISSUE moved on him quickly after seeing him play at a tournament in Decem- ber 2016. Forwards Ignas Brazdeikis (6-8, five-star talent) of Mono (Ontario) Orangeville Prep and Bran- don Johns (6-8, four-star recruit and No. 58 senior nationally) of East Lansing (Mich.) High were priorities throughout, while four-star center Colin Castleton (6-11, Rivals. com's No. 87 player in the country) of Dayton Beach (Fla.) Father Lopez became one last summer after former pledge Taylor Currie of Clarkston (Mich.) High reclassified from 2019 to 2018 and committed to Wisconsin. Like the 2012 class, Beilein took a late flier on an under-the-radar shooting guard in Adrien Nunez (6- 5, three-star prospect) of Oakdale (Conn.) St. Thomas More, hoping of course that he turns out like the one the coach had back then — Caris LeVert, who is now with the Brooklyn Nets. "I really like the class as a whole," national analyst Corey Evans said in May. "It's a really, re- ally good group that fits what Michi- gan is all about as a whole. You have the four-year, gritty, competitive lead guard in DeJulius, Nunez the shot maker, Brandon Johns the versatile 3-4, whatever you want to call him. "Brazdeikis is a different kind of guy, a big-time offensive weapon who definitely could be the leading scorer of all these guys, and Castle- ton is the 'X' factor, the closest thing we'll see to a Moe Wagner type in 2018. "This is just a really good group." DeJulius got it started with his pledge on Dec. 22, 2016, less than a week after Beilein offered. He aver- aged 26.3 points, 8.1 assists and 7.7 rebounds per game this season and shot 42.0 percent from long range in earning Detroit News Dream Team and Associated Press All-State first- team honors in Michigan. "He's tough and competitive," Ev- ans said. "He's a gamer. He had a few big-time scoring games this past high school year for his team [includ- ing games of 42 and 49 points against loaded Clarkston (Mich.) High and Chicago Orr teams, respectively], but he's going to be more of a get the ball up the floor, facilitate, get others involved and a take-the-shot-when-I- need-to guy initially. "He's really walking into an ideal situation. He has so many offensive guys around him, unlike some past Michigan teams that have asked their point guard to do much more. He's got a great supporting cast." Beilein asked DeJulius to improve his shot before he'd offer, and the point guard responded. Not only did he make 42.0 percent of his threes this year, many of them were from NBA depth or off the dribble. Johns was next up, committing in late June 2017 after being courted by both U-M and Michigan State for years. His announcement made waves when he reported that MSU head coach Tom Izzo gave him an earful after Johns called to break the news. "If he's happy, I'm happy," Izzo responded tersely when asked by re- porters to comment, but it was clear he didn't really mean it. Beilein had pulled one out of his backyard, and it stung. Johns and DeJulius have been playing together for years, DeJulius reported in May, and the two already have chemistry. They even traveled to San Antonio together in April to see their future teammates in the Fi- nal Four. Johns averaged 28.1 points and 11.3 rebounds per game as a senior in earning Detroit News Dream Team and first-team All-State honors in Michigan. He shot an incredible 73.0 percent from the floor. "He's an enigma at times and tan- talizing when he's on," Evans said. "He looks like an NBA prospect. He's a small-ball four [power forward], can shoot, dribble, pass, has a good feel for the game, can defend differ- ent spots. "He's what you look for in a new- age four. Now it's all about going out there and doing it." There were times he'd move away from the basket too much, but he re- sponded at the Michigan camp last year when the coaches asked him to get aggressive and looked the part of a future All-Big Ten player. CAPPING THE CLASS Beilein completed the 2018 class in a span of two weeks in early fall 2017, getting pledges from Brazdeikis (Sept. 22), Nunez (Oct. 2) and Castle- ton (Oct. 4) to cap the outstanding haul. Brazdeikis chose the Wolverines over a late push from Vanderbilt, while Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon and several others had also offered. Former Michigan standout Nik Stauskas, now in the NBA with the Brooklyn Nets, predicted his friend would be a pro in two or three years, and Brazdeikis did his part to prove him right in his senior season, aver- aging 31.0 points per game. "I think from the scoring side, he's definitely got that potential," Evans said. "If he can keep his body in line, which he has … I think his versatil- ity, toughness and scoring abilities and ambidextrous skills around the Guard David DeJulius is one of four Rivals. com four- or five-star recruits in the 2018 U-M class. John Beilein has never signed as much highly regarded talent in one class. PHOTO BY JORDAN WELLS Brandon Johns (pictured) finished second in Michigan's Mr. Basketball voting, while future teammate David DeJulius finished in third place. PHOTO BY JACEY ZEMBAL

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