The Wolverine

June July 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JUNE/JULY 2018 THE WOLVERINE 35   2018 BASKETBALL RECRUITING ISSUE ment to guard his future teammate. It wasn't easy, he admitted. The 6-5, 200-pounder was giving away a good 20 pounds to the 6-8 Canadian, and Brazdeikis brought his "A" game, scoring 26 points to Nunez's 18. "That was really cool," Nunez said. "I'd seen videos of my future team- mates and playing on the court with him was a pretty cool moment. "We talked before the game, and we chatted afterward. It's going to be a good couple of years with that guy." During the game, however, they were all business. Nunez admitted he had his hands full with a motivated Brazdeikis, who recently created a stir with an offseason workout video in which his head was often near the rim. "He is a bull," Nunez said with a laugh. "I was guarding him the whole game. My coaches were like, 'You're probably the only person who can try and stop him.' He is so strong, so skilled, can shoot it … I was just exhausted after that game. "He's like an animal. I'm glad I don't have to face him again … at least probably not until June or July [in open gyms]." Brazdeikis laughed when told of his future teammate's comments, noting he had to "go hard" in that matchup to prove a point. But he was just as impressed with Nunez, a late bloomer who averaged 4.0 points as a senior at Brooklyn (N.Y.) Bishop Loughlin before transferring to St. Thomas More for a prep season. Nunez earned his offer with some great shooting performances in front of the Michigan coaches on the AAU circuit. Though Nunez has only been playing organized basketball since he was 14 years old, Brazdeikis loves what he sees. "He's lights out shooting it. His shot form is so consistent, and he has a real good feel for the game," he said. How good he'll be depends on how much his handle improves, Ev- ans added. "He definitely has to develop his ball skills more, but he's tough — and an underappreciated tough," the Rivals analyst said. "I think he wants to get better and better. "It's hard to find guys that can make shots with size, and that's what he does." Castleton would also fall into that category, though in a different way. He's like Wagner in that he can score inside and out, and he also arrives needing to gain strength. He's got the tools, though, to be very good, especially in Beilein's offense. The Wolverines arrived a bit late in his recruitment, but Castleton's rela- tionship with assistant Luke Yaklich helped make the difference. "You always want to watch com- paring high school kids to an NBA Draft pick, but he's athletic, he's tough, has a little attitude to him, can shoot it and put it on the floor [like Wagner]," Evans said. "He might be better defensively earlier on and as a rebounder com- pared to what Moe was doing, but I think there are definitely some com- parable traits there." All in all, Evans said, this is an- other group Beilein and his staff should be able to win big with. They've done exactly that over the last several years, when healthy, and have as many NCAA Tournament wins in the country as anyone in the last six years (16). "He and his staff do a great job of figuring out which kids they can have a legitimate shot with. They do their homework on anybody they recruit," Bossi said. "Because of that, they don't seem to waste their time on players they have no shot at. "I would also add that Beilein seems to have a penchant for taking borderline guys late and develop- ing them to their max potential. No coach is mistake-free in recruiting, but there is no doubt that Beilein is big time when it comes to finding and developing talent." ❏ A media and coaches' vote led to Colin Castleton being named the Florida 7A Player of the Year and a Mr. Basketball finalist (finished eighth) during his senior campaign. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM Adrien Nunez is a shooter who could become the next overlooked recruit that blossoms in Ann Arbor under the develop- mental eye of head coach John Beilein. PHOTO COURTESY ST. THOMAS MORE SCHOOL national basketball recruiting analyst Eric Bossi "If there's anything I've learned over the past few years when it comes to John Beilein, it is to take notice of guys he is recruiting and look real close at them. In my opinion, he's proven to be one of the best talent evaluators in the business, and more specifically he's a great evaluator of talent that fits the way he wants to play."

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