50 in 5: Recruiting, Coaching, and Rivalries

Dylan Burkhardt

Evan Smotrycz Heating Up?


Scott Hazelton is reporting that Evan Smotrycz has recently been offered by Michigan.

On Monday, Michigan’s head coach Jim Beilein and Providence head coach Keno Davis visted New Hampton Prep to watch Smotrycz work out.   Coach Beilein has been followig Smotrycz from our summer trips to Las Vegas and California.  And after the workout Monday,  Coach Beilein assured Smotrycz that Michigan has a spot for him by offering the talented 6’9″ wingman a scholarship.

Michigan appears to have jumped headfirst into the middle of Evan’s recruitment and it seems like it could move quickly. Smotrycz did visit this fall so it’s not like his name came out of nowhere but I have to admit I hadn’t been following him that closely. Part of the reason is that it doesn’t seem like local newspapers tend to cover the NESPAC Prep league that well.

That being said it’s probably worth doing some preliminary reading. Home News Here recently posted a nice profile piece about Evan that breaks down this year, his history, and his recruitment.  You also might want to take a look at the ESPN scouting report if you skipped over it the last time that I linked it.

From what I have heard about Smotrycz, he has Beilein written all over him: Length, shooting, and ball handling ability in a 6-foot-9 body. That sounds like the perfect guy to play the four position or “power forward” in this offense. Beilein has been stingy in terms of who he offers and with limited scholarships; if he wants a kid you can bet that he really wants him.

Count the New England Recruiting Report as another fan:

One of the most accurate sayings we have ever heard about prep school basketball is this, “there is a fine line between exposure and exposed”.  So many players transfer to the NESCAC only to find their level of success reduced by the higher level of competition.  It was just the opposite for Smotrycz who raised his game to a new level in his first season at New Hampton.

The Coaching (and Recruiting) Carousel

john_calipariJohn Calipari is headed to Kentucky for almost $4 million per year. Of course Calipari doesn’t come without “the most powerful man in basketball”, William Wesley. Not to mention the troop of recruits that will likely follow including John Wall (1), Xavier Henry (3), DeMarcus Cousins (2) and many others.  I guess for that much money, you expect more than just a coach.

Henry writes over on TrueHoop that there are essentially no clean college basketball programs which may be true to an extent. But there is no denying the fact that Calipari runs one of the most ethically challenged. I would also argue without hesitation that John Beilein runs arguably one of the cleanest programs in the nation. This hire reminds me of Indiana hiring Kelvin Sampson — desperation can force you into tough situations, especially when you try to take shortcuts.

Speaking of questionable recruiting, recent allegations aren’t slowing down UConn head coach Jim Calhoun on the recruiting trail. The Huskies landed a commitment from Chicago guard Darius Smith this week. The head scratcher is that Smith never visited UConn and Calhoun has never seen him play. The folks over at Illinois Prep Bullseye call the recruitment one of the strangest they have seen:

Throughout Smith’s entire recruiting process, reliable sources told us that the Huskies had not offered Smith a scholarship and were looking at him solely as a backup option.  Not only that, but Smith has never set foot on the UConn campus.  We also know for a fact that to this point Huskie head coach Jim Calhoun has not seen him play.  All of which makes us wonder exactly how the deal with Smith went down.  Of course, no one is talking (and no one will) when it comes to that.

You be the judge.

Back on the Market?

Klay ThompsonTony Bennett is packing up his bags at Washington State and headed to Virginia.  One of Michigan’s top priorities from the class of 2008, Klay Thompson. Klay had a very solid freshman campaign at Washington State, he averaged 12.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 41.2% from three point range — all of this was good for Pac 10 All-Freshman honors and numerous Washington State freshman records.

Klay is understandably a bit shaken by his coache’s departure. Here’s what he had to say about Tony’s decision:

“I was so shocked,” freshman guard Klay Thompson told the newspaper. “But it’s life. I’ll adjust. As far as my future, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ll see who they’re going to bring in.”

It appears like his father, former NBA star Mychal Thompson, put an end to any transfer talk:

“Klay’s fine. He’s calmed down after the initial shock,” Thompson said. “I told him, you’re not going to go anywhere. Why would you go and sit out a year [in transferring]? You’ve got a nice nucleus with Marcus Capers and DeAngelo Casto.

Klay would be a perfect fit on the wing, but it doesn’t look like it’s worth getting your hopes up.

Big Ten Bashing

Michigan State’s Tom Izzo defends Big Ten’s style of play

Hearing Tom Izzo rip Digger Phelps and the rest of the national media made this one of the most enjoyable Tom Izzo clips I’ve ever watched.  He has a point and I think he lays it out pretty well. I’d love to go down the list a little bit more in detail but let’s just look at Michigan and Michigan State and how they performed in the tournament. Michigan isn’t really considered a defensive team but they held Clemson to 59 points, nearly twenty below their season average. Meanwhile Michigan State hasn’t given up 70 points yet in the NCAA tournament and just held Louisville to 52 points. Yes, my friends, defense is real and we play it in this conference.

In similar conference chest beating, Penn State manhandled Notre Dame in the NIT semifinal and they coincidentally held them to 59 points. Yes, this is the same Notre Dame team that was ranked #9 in both preseason polls and plays in the highly-esteemed Big East.

The Rivalry

I’ve written about the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry over at MGoBlog but I don’t have much of a problem with Beilein lending a helping hand, especially after listening to the Big Ten hate for the last two months. Beilein and his staff also shared their thoughts with the Free Press so it’s not like this is top secret information.

Warm and happy feelings aside, this kind of talk I could do without:

“We said we are the university in Michigan, and in six days we’re going to represent this entire state,” said Izzo, flanked by his wife and children.

I don’t know if Izzo just got a little excited in the midst of the victory celebrations in East Lansing but this statement is just foolish. There is no denying that Michigan State has the better basketball program but in no way are they the university in Michigan.

Apparently, Manny Harris wants to go to the Final Four, and he asked his old AAU teammates Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summer if they could help out:

Lucas and Durrell Summers both said a former teammate, Michigan’s Manny Harris, has been among the throng of friends asking for tickets.

“We’re definitely going to get him in there some kind of way,” Summers said. “If he wants a ticket, he has to throw on some Spartan gear.”

I don’t care if he gets some tickets but come on Manny, wear Maize and Blue.

Quick Notes

  • Brian was featured on John U. Bacon’s show on WTKA and shared his 2-cents about the future of journalism, MVictors has a podcast.
  • The Fab Five reunion event was canceled but now it is back on and has been moved.
  • David Cone needs to freestyle battle Brent Petway.
  • I need a name for everything in one posts like this one because I’m not completely sold on ’50 in 5′ (Beilein’s shooting drill) so let’s hear some suggestions in the comments.

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  • Brick

    How about calling the post Insomnia. Seriously Dylan, get some sleep, I thought it was late out west.

    This is what I love about recruiting. Last year Vogrich was a hey he’s visiting but we’re not that high on his list and all of a sudden he commits and we hear he was Michigan all along. McLimans comes out of nowhere after we had been talking about other kids forever. This year, we are following about 10 other kids more than Smotrycz and now it’s looking like he will be the first 2010 commit. Now what’s a best guess recruiting class? I think we still may take Regan as he is more of a post than Smotrycz. With the last spot we can hold out for a big fish.

    That Izzo clip was great. It made me like him just a little bit. Up yours Digger.

  • Ben

    I don’t always believe in the star rankings but I still would like to get a legit 4 or 5 star player. As Michigan fans we have to hope that one of are 3 star players turn out to be a stud. Smotrycz sound like he could be an alright get.

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  • WTHef?

    This is obviously good news about Smotrycz and he sounds ideal for Beilein but do you think that if he commits (which would mean he has an offer, which he didn’t have a couple weeks ago) that it means we are not getting Regan? Maybe with Villanova getting in on Regan – JB decided to go with Plan B and offer Smotrycz? Or do you think even if JB thought we would get Regan, he would still offer Smotrycz since with Peedi gone there are suddenly a lot more minutes at the 4 available?

    I see us having 2 scholarships open now and we should really give 3 (either Manny leaves early or you can not re-new the Wright stuff for a 5th year). If Grady were to leave, you have a 4th but I think you have to get a point or at least a combo guard. While there are potentially 5 ships available, you can’t give them all because barring a transfer, you would have none to give in ’11 (nobody left on the roster would leave early to go NBA).

    So I guess you could use your 3 on:
    1) Smotrycz
    2) Regan
    3) Athletic wing to replace Manny (Zeigler, Prather, etc)

    If we can get Oliver on the KZoo promise than this would be an ideal haul. If not, I’m not sure that we’ve added enough athleticism and scoring to our team to make up for the loss of Manny and Peedi.

    If we couldn’t get Oliver through an academic schollie, some might be tempted to say that if Grady leaves we can use that scholarship on a wing player but I think you would have to give it to at least a combo guard but other than McCallum I don’t see anyone on our radar than can play point.

    With Darius coming off a back injury and also being a kid from LA that might be subject to home sickness, I don’t think we can afford to go 2 years with Stu being the only option behind him (unless LLP really works on becoming a point this summer). I can’t remember his name but there is a top PG target in ’11 which I think is partly why we may be cool on McCallum. While we all get excited about another ship to give, I think we should all hope Grady can stick around which will allow us to wait until ’11 to offer another PG.

  • I updated the link at the top about Smotrycz. There is some good stuff here…

  • ToBlav

    A few name ideas for the multiple topic posts: 1) Lots of hot spots 2)Seasonings 3)Scoring points

  • Anyone having any problems loading the page?

  • ryan

    would smotrycz be more likely to play the 3 or the 4? I’ve seen multiple places list him as a 3.

  • I’ve seen him listed as a three as well but with his size I really think he is the perfect “four” in Beilein’s system. The “power forward” position in this offense is very similar to the wing forward spot in terms of responsibilities on offense. Think back to how Peedi played last year, he was almost always on the perimeter, Novak this year was the same situation.

    Also — because he’s a four, I also think he’s a bit different than Regan who’s more of a tradition big man and would probably play the five.

  • GregGoBlue

    I love Tom Izzo’s fire, but I cringe when I see all this hubbub about Izzo being the best tournament coach in the NCAA. The only thing I can think about is: “well, there go all the good recruits in the state of Michigan for the next few years…”

    Sheesh, and you thought we had a successful year? Heck of a time to make the final four, Izzo.

  • michael

    How do Jordan Morgan and Ben Cronin fit in with all these interchangable 3 and 4 guys? In the Beilein system, in which the 4 is more of a finesse/perimeter player, is there really only one “power” position at center? Will the center just be the guy who gets boards and blocks shots? Can a true center and a true power forward be on the floor at the same time?

  • michael: I think Cronin is certainly a five, Morgan most likely too. McLimans is a four and I’m not sure what happens to Peedi — he can play both. Beilein has also said he’ll experiment a couple high-low type of offenses with two bigs.

  • Brick

    I think Beilein likes one true post “power” player who plays with his back to the basket. The 4 can fall into the post depending on matchups but needs to be able to hit outside shots so the paint doesn’t get too crowded.

    I think Beilein is heading toward a very versitile lineup in that he can go big or small and switch guys to different positions. If we have a guard who can take the ball to the basket (Morris), we can put a Smotrycz at SF and pair him with McLimans and Cronin for a huge lineup. We could also play with two bigs who can shoot and really confuse a defense because they won’t know who will be in the post.

    I think JB will evolve his offense to whoever he can recruit and getting a 6’9″ kid with handles and a shot can only help open things up.

  • ZRL

    Sounds like a Kyle Singler type player, who IMO would be Beilein’s ideal 4.

  • rlc

    Wow, Tom Izzo came very close to saying “tempo free statistics” – that woulda been something, huh?

    I’m fine with Manny going to the Final Four rocking some MSU boxers, or even a wristband…

  • steve

    Interesting about Evan. Reports look good. I’ll take a Kyle Singler any day. Hopefully we still can land Regan.

    And rlc are you serious you’d be alright with manny wearing that. Come on man. Maybe the boxers if he soils them after and gives them back.

    What are your guys takes on the MSU/UCONN game? I think MSU, much to my disliking, will win.

    And as far as the coaching carousel with Calipari, I look at it as a good thing. I think you figure Calipari will get talent to come into KY but I don’t see Memphis continuing to pull guys year after year. So basically we’re removing one team from the pool of teams that bring in top flight talent year after year.

  • Giddings

    How happy must teams like UAB, Tulsa, Charlotte, and Houston be right now? It’ll be nice to actually see some competition in C-USA again.

  • Kevin

    I thought the intern coach they had there was doing pretty well? I was thinking they’d stick with him.

    Good post, really liked the Izzo video. I’ve never really had a problem with him, and I’ve actually had the chance to meet him before, nice guy. Also, great idea by Manny to go to the final four. Just being there will be motivation to get there next year.

  • Lunchbox

    How do you pronounce Smotrycz?

  • WTHef?

    I guess Floyd didn’t want to be at a football school but USC has the nicest arena I’ve ever seen, obviously has a history of athletic success, and he was able to recruit well there (LA is loaded with HS talent plus the school has a national rep). Seems like it would have been a more interesting challenge to turn USC into a basketball power than follow Lute at Arizona. I feel like it would be the equivalent of Beilein leaving Michigan to coach Indiana in 2 years. Obviously we have a better bball tradition than USC but there are some similar parallels and I don’t think UA has quite the history that Indiana does.

  • steve

    I live in Tucson and I’ll tell you I don’t think the Arizona fans are going to be very happy. They were shooting for Pitino. There was an article in the Tucson paper the other day about the coaching search that was titled something to the effect “we want a cadillac not a chevy.” I thought Few should take the job but apparently he’s comfortable at Gonzaga, can’t blame him. Tucson is crazy about U of A basketball. Obviously he’s shown he can get big name guys, but Tucson is no where comparable to L.A. I think it will be a few years before he gets a contender going since they lose Hill and Budinger to the top half of the first round of the draft. Similar to the Crean situation. I’m sure USC fans are furious.


    As I read all the comments about JB’s recruiting ability, I still have to give him another year or so before I start freaking out about UM not landing 5 star after 5 star.

    Tom Izzo has been at MSU for 20+ years, not all as head coach, but just being in and around the program for that amount of time has been a big advantage for him and that program. JB has been at UM for 2 years. You could say that JB is an equivalent to a rookie coach. Kind of an unknown, hes in unfamiliar recruiting territory, and is basically blazing a new trail for UM basketball. MSU is a more stable program.. RIGHT NOW.. than UM. MSU has very good, not quite great bigs and has a lot of them. UM technically has none, yet if a few bounces go our way and the officiating were to throw out the politics, we damn near could be in the sweet 16 facing a favorable game with Cuse. Not to mention winning games with two walkons running the point. Remember JB landed a 2 star guy who ended up being lottery NBA material, and I wouldnt be surprised to see Desean Butler make it and play in the league. Another thing to think about is last year Bob Huggins took a WV team with JB’s players to the sweet 16, and this year with more of his players were an early exit….granted he has a slightly younger team, and had a main guy go down, but still. All I am saying is dont be surprised if a guy like McLimans, or Evan end up being just like a 5 star recruit, and a very good player. Does anyone remember what rating Adam Morrison was given? 3 star.

    With that being said, moving forward into next year we gain ingredients that we lacked this past year #1 size, and #2 more of a threat at PG. I love how JB really teaches and develops skill with guys, and in turn it makes him a great tournament coach. Its no lie that JB likes a slightly unique style, bigs who can shoot, big guards, and the 1 3 1 defense. I have no problem with the way JB coaches, his style is set up for success in the tournament, which is absolutely what we want. But, I have always said that you have to have balance in the way you construct your team. In other words you shouldnt put all your eggs in one basket.

    There are a ton of unknowns going into next year:
    1. How good is Cronin, and will he be ready?
    2. How good is Corey Person, and can he contribute?
    3. How good is Akunne and could he be a factor?
    4. Will KG stay, and if he does, how much can he improve?
    5. How good is Mclimans, can he add a dimension to this team?
    6. Could Morgan add the attitude down low we so desperately need?
    7. How quickly can Morris adjust?
    8. How improved will all our returnees be?(knowing JB, probably some vast improvement will be made in certain areas)

    Looking at this team, and how JB has recruited, a lot is still unknown, but I would say that I would hope JB always keeps a good/balanced level of athleticism at 3 positions on the court most of the time. With the team next year I would say that I think I would only ask for one more thing, and it would be a more athletic/versatile 3 or 4 guy. But without seeing the newcomers, and seeing what they can offer, it might be premature. I think people can get a bit carried away with the rating systems. Lets see what this team looks like next year, and go from there. I would hope that JB will look at where he has a lack of an ingredient and will begin to do a great job of adding those ingredients on a consistent basis. All Im saying is I would hate to see our team out- athleticized, if that is a word. History is a good indicator in that the past champions all had a good amount of athletic ability. I think John Beilein can get us to that point. Soon players will notice JB’s ability to make them well skilled and a balanced ball player, and he will land more top tier guys. Lets give it a couple years though. lets let John build a dynasty here at UM. But it might take a few years to get to that ELITE level, so patience is key

  • Sam

    Every time I see Tom Izzo I just want to cringe. I can’t explain why, I just hold a serious dislike for him. And people say, “Oh, he’s a great guy” and stuff, and, while I haven’t met him, he has made numerous comments that any respectable coach like Beilein wouldn’t make in a million years. I hope Beilein sees this and really lets Izzo’s teams have it for the next however many years we can keep him here. One other thing comes to mind. At this past season’s game against State, I remember a call going against State and Izzo was whining like normal and we got the “an-gry mid-get” chant going. We get the ball, a call goes against us and Izzo turns to look at us with the most wry and cocky smile you will ever see. I just wanted to punch him in the face.

    While I do agree with most of what he said, I will never say that I agree with him 100% and will never like him as a coach or person.

    And Smotrycz looks like a very intriguing prospect, but I’m left wondering what has happened with Regan lately. He really had a great junior season and seemed to be pretty close to committing until Jay Wright had to step in. Here’s to hoping we can get Regan still. And ideally Casey Prather, although that looks to be a long shot. Just one more reason to root against ‘Nova (considering they ruined my bracket).

  • Bluebufoon

    Smotrycz and Regan don’t play the same position. One fellow plays outside (Smotrycz) and has the ability score in the paint. The other
    plays in the paint (Regan) but can step out on the perimeter and hit
    hi jumper to keep the opposition honest– totally different players.

  • DC

    Title for multiple-topic posts: Emptying the Bench.

  • JRose5

    Anyone hear the podcast on maizeandblog that Coach B was heading to Memphis? Surely it was an Aprils Fool’s Day joke from yesterday?
    DC–I like Emptying the Bench as well. Dylan, thanks for all the great info!
    Go Blue!

  • AG2

    As for Floyd at Arizona, what of Renardo Sydney?

  • Or former Michigan recruit Solomon Hill…

  • YpsiTuckyBoy

    AG2 – Did Michigan recruit Sydney as well as Hill?

  • Trust me, guys, McLimans isn’t ready for Big Ten basketball…not yet, anyway…kid needs to put on some weight..

    BJ Mullens is heading to the NBA — good news for Michigan. Jermain Davis, Jake Kelly, and Jeff Peterson are all leaving Iowa, who’s going to be next season’s Indiana of this year. Hopefully we play them twice.

  • Ben

    If anyone wants video on McLimans go to youtube and search him, there are games of Worchester on there. and Yes he needs to bulk up but I think he has potential….. lets hope

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