The Wolverine

June July 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 7 of 67

8 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2018 J ohn Beilein isn't slowing down, four decades into his basketball coaching career. In fact, he's go- ing stronger than ever. Two NCAA title games in the past six years, with March Madness again an annual event. Three Elite Eights, two straight Big Ten Tourna- ment championships and a national top-10 incoming recruiting class to keep things rolling. Life is good for the Wolverines and a coach interested in more than Selection Sunday. The newcomers detailed on these pages are impressive. five-star Ignas Brazdeikis (6-8, 200) might be the best Canadian im- port since Nik Stauskas. Brandon Johns (6-8, 205) out of East Lansing, snubbed the hometown school and its combustible head coach to be- come a Wolverine. David DeJulius, a 6-1 point guard out of Detroit, combines unlim- ited upside with leadership. Colin Castleton brings 83 inches (that's 6-11, if you're keeping score) of po- tential out of Daytona Beach, Fla., and Oakville (Conn.) St. Thomas More's Adrien Nunez, a 6-5 sharp- shooter from Brooklyn, N.Y., could be Beilein's next great find. "Michigan fans will be very ex- cited from day one," former Wol- verine and basketball analyst Tim McCormick insisted. "John Beilein has brought in a loaded class. To me, it's the best class he has had at Michigan. "They've got all the positions cov- ered. They've got shooters, they've got role players, defenders. They're going to be really good." Johns said he'd like to get as far as last year's crew did … and change the ending. He embodies the swag- ger and excitement of the incoming class as a whole. "I just can't wait to get down there," Johns assured. "We've got something special next year." That's what it's all about at this point. Hopes and dreams. Huge goals. Unlimited opportunity. All five of the newest Wolverines will discover so many doors open to them. Their first move ought to involve engaging Austin Hatch in a conversation. A few years ago, Hatch stood precisely where they do — a prep basketball star, coveted by programs everywhere, a surefire bright light on the collegiate stage and maybe beyond. Then came the horrific plane crash, the second he miracu- lously survived while losing five family members between the two. Hatch couldn't dazzle on the court anymore. He couldn't walk. He couldn't talk. Hatch stood in front of a deeply appreciative crowd at the Bob Ufer Quarterback Club banquet May 7, expressing his own gratitude for his Ann Arbor experience. Beilein couldn't put him on the court more than a handful of times, even after months and months of rehabilitation following a traumatic brain injury. He could, and did, honor the scholarship and push Hatch in every way possible. The new Michigan grad's experi- ence isn't what he envisioned, but still incredible. "What's amazing about Coach Beilein … I don't think he treated me any different than he treated anyone else on the team," Hatch said. "He didn't treat me any dif- ferent than he did Moe Wagner, or Duncan Robinson, or Spike [Al- brecht], or Caris [LeVert]. "Obviously, he had different ex- pectations for all of us on the court. I couldn't really score and rebound and do everything he recruited me to do on the court. My injuries pre- vented me from doing that. "But as far as day-to-day interac- tions are concerned, he didn't treat me any different. Coach Beilein doesn't serve players' talent. He serves their heart. That's an amaz- ing thing. That's one of the most valuable lessons I learned from him." Hatch and former Michigan vol- leyball standout Abby Cole become husband and wife June 16. They're together, in part, because someone who couldn't physically help a team reach the Final Four still belonged in the family. "I'll never be able to repay Coach," Hatch assured. "The ulti- mate measure of a man is how he treats someone who can't repay him. … Coach Beilein and I were talking the other day. He says, 'Aus- tin, looking back on it, I don't think there's a coach in the country that wouldn't have honored your schol- arship, given the circumstances.' "But at Michigan, it's not just about honoring the scholarship. It's about how he honored the scholar- ship. It's not about what he did. It's about why he did it, and how he did it. The lessons I've learned here, I'll carry with me the rest of my life. "How he honored my scholar- ship? I guarantee you, no other coach in the country would have done that, and that's what Michi- gan is all about — the Leaders and Best." Basketball is big. Life is bigger. Just ask the most insightful Michi- gan basketball alum around. ❏ Editor John Borton has been with The Wolverine since 1991. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @JB _ Wolverine. WOLVERINE WATCH   JOHN BORTON Winning Means More Than A Final Four Austin Hatch (with fiancée Abby Cole) said he'd never be able to repay head coach John Beilein for honoring his basketball scholar- ship, even after a plane crash took away his ability to contribute as a player. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - June July 2018