The Wolverine

June July 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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34 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2018   2018 BASKETBALL RECRUITING ISSUE bucket give him a chance to be a pro, no doubt, if he continues to do what he can do. "The question is, is he a 4/3, 3/4, 3/2, 2/3 at the next level? … What's he going to become [position-wise]? But he's very skilled. He can give you 25 points at the drop of a dime." Nunez found that out the hard way when he had to check him in a Janu- ary contest. The two went head-to head, and Nunez drew the assign- Michigan head coach John Beilein has sent 11 players to the NBA for at least a short stint. However, not all of them were highly ranked. Take Tim Hardaway Jr., who was listed as an unranked three-star prospect before signing with the Wolverines in 2010. Hardaway signed a four-year, $71-million deal with the New York Knicks last summer and is a budding star, but he wasn't part of Beilein's best class at Michigan — at least not on paper. This year's class is the coach's highest ranked yet — a five- man group that was rated No. 10 nationally by, which checked in second in the Big Ten to Indiana (No. 7). Here's a look at the coach's five top classes at Michigan prior to this year's signees, and how they fared: 1. 2012 (Glenn Robinson III, five-star, No. 11 overall player nationally; Mitch McGary, four-star, No. 30; Nik Stauskas, four-star, No. 71; Caris LeVert, three-star, un- rated; and Spike Albrecht, three-star, unrated) This group was Beilein's best on paper — at one point, McGary was also a five-star recruit and's No. 3 overall prospect nationally — and it also played out to be his best on the court. Three of them remain in the NBA, led by LeVert in Brooklyn (he averaged 12.1 points per game this year), and each one of this crew helped advance the Wolverines to a national title game (2013) as freshmen and reach the Elite Eight the following year. They also captured a Big Ten Title in 2014. 2. 2013 (Zak Irvin, five-star, No. 24; Derrick Walton Jr., four-star, No. 37; and Mark Donnal, four-star, No. 111) Beilein and staff followed up on the star-studded 2012 class with a trio that would win a lot of games. Injuries sidetracked some of their success, however. Irvin battled back injuries for two years and struggled through his sophomore and junior campaigns, while ankle injuries slowed Walton in the same time period. But both were outstanding in the 2017 post- season in leading the Wolverines to a Big Ten Tournament title and Sweet 16 berth. Walton is now on a two-way con- tract with the Miami Heat, while Ir- vin is in the NBA's G League. Donnal was a role player before graduating and transferring to Clemson for his final season of eligibility. 3. 2014 (Kam Chatman, four- star, No. 25; D.J. Wilson, four-star, No. 86; Ricky Doyle, three-star, unrated; Muhammad-Ali Abdur- Rahkman, three-star, unrated; Aubrey Dawkins, three- star, unrated; and Austin Hatch, three-star, unrated) Hatch was initially a 2013 pledge before being involved in a plane crash that claimed his father's and stepmother's lives, and it eventually cost him his basketball career. Beilein called him a "Wally Szczerbiak" type after the former Miami (Ohio) star and longtime NBA player. Chatman had a few really good games and hit the game- winner in a 2016 Big Ten Tournament contest with Indiana, but transferred to Detroit Mercy. Doyle (Florida Gulf Coast) and Dawkins (Central Florida, to play for his father) also transferred. Wilson emerged as a redshirt sophomore to become a first-round pick in the NBA Draft, and Abdur-Rahkman im- proved every year to become co-MVP this past season. 4. 2009 (Darius Morris, four-star, No. 77; Matt Vogrich, three-star, No. 137; Jordan Morgan, three-star, unrated; and Blake McLimans, three-star, unrated) Morris helped the Wolverines turn a corner, leading a two- game season sweep of Michigan State for the first time since 1997 and helping the Wolverines almost reach the Sweet 16 in 2011. He missed a floater that would have tied the game in a two-point loss to Duke. He left prematurely, but gave way to a true frosh in Trey Burke who would lead Michigan to a share of the Big Ten title. Morgan became an extremely vital piece of U-M's renais- sance, an outstanding defender who improved on offense each year, while Vogrich — once called the best shooter in the 2009 class by Sporting News — was a rotation player on a Big Ten title team. 5. 2011 (Carlton Brundidge, four-star, No. 106; Trey Burke, three-star, No. 142; and Max Bielfeldt, three-star, unrated) This class was right there with the 2010 group of Evan Smotrycz (four-star, No. 59), Tim Hardaway Jr. (three-star, unrated) and Jon Horford (three-star, unrated). Both groups saw the highest-rated player transfer (Brundidge to Detroit Mercy and Smotrycz to Maryland), both had ridicu- lously underrated superstars in Burke and Hardaway, and the third player in each class was a graduate transfer. Bielfeldt fin- ished his career at Indiana, becoming the Big Ten's Sixth Man of the Year, and Hor- ford became a part-time starter at Florida, averaging 6.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. The difference between the two classes — Burke was the National Player of the Year and one of the Wolverines' best of all time. That earns this group a spot on this list. — Chris Balas John Beilein's Best Recruiting Classes At Michigan (Prior To 2018) Beilein and his 2013 signing class, which fea- tured four-star Derrick Walton Jr., reached two Sweet 16s, including the Elite Eight run in 2014. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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