Recruiting Q&A: Where Things Stand

Dylan Burkhardt

Ace Anbender, of The Wolverine Blog, asked me to do a Q&A about basketball recruiting and I realized that we really haven’t had a comprehensive “where things stand” sort of update in quite sometime. I convinced him that we should split the Q&A content up between both of our two sites and here’s the result. The first half is below and you can find the second half over at his site.


First off, how do you see Michigan finishing off the class of 2010? If Michigan can’t land Trey Ziegler, are there other options on the board?

Trey Zeigler is the big fish in the pond. He’s been Michigan’s primary target for at least 2 years and that fact hasn’t changed. He is the complete package skill-wise and would be an instant impact contributor. He has the ability to play the two or the three in Beilein’s offense and is a complete scorer.

In regards to his recruitment, Zeigler has kept things very close to the vest for sometime. You can probably find another rumor every week that Zeigler is favoring <insert school here> but at this point it’s clear that he isn’t going to rush to a decision and hasn’t told anyone what he wants to do.

Playing for his dad at Central Michigan is a very real option. Michigan and UCLA have consistently been listed among his top options. Michigan State has made a push lately, but their scholarship situation is a little fuzzy. Duke entered the picture late, but seem an unlikely destination. Arizona, Oklahoma (official visit), and Providence are options as well. At this point, its a waiting game. Michigan is certainly a contender but who knows where Zeigler will end up.

Jon Horford is the only other 2010 recruit that has gotten much public attention. The 6-foot-9 big man has consistently mentioned Michigan as one of the leaders in his recruitment but it appears that he doesn’t yet have a Michigan offer. The reasoning behind this is a little unclear. Part of it might be waiting for Ben Cronin’s scholarship situation to clear itself up and part of it might just be further evaluation. Michigan doesn’t have any big men on next year’s roster who have played a minute of college basketball so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Horford end up in the class when all is said and done.

In terms of back-up plans there isn’t a lot that is publicly known. Michigan checked out Isaiah Sykes recently but that seems like an unlikely option. Does Beilein have his eyes on a sleeper recruit somewhere? Possibly but at this points it’s hard to know.

Would the potential departure of Manny Harris affect the 2010 class (i.e. would Michigan take on another recruit)?

I don’t know that Harris’ departure would have a major effect on Michigan’s 2010 class. With Ben Cronin’s career likely over, Michigan already has two additional scholarships to give in the class (scholarship breakdown here). If they were to take 3 players they would likely be out of additional scholarships for the class of 2011, making that a one man class (Carlton Brundidge).

Would Beilein potentially look to dip into Europe for another prospect?

This is an idea that I have seen thrown around. It makes sense because Beilein has looked across the pond for talent before. At West Virginia he brought in German forward Johannes Herber, who started every game in his West Virginia career and graduated with a 4.0 GPA.  A couple years back he tried to bring in Robin Benzing, a 6-foot-10 German wing but he came up one question short on the SAT.

If you were wondering, Benzing is playing well in the professional leagues in Germany and is a member of the senior German national team. His video might make you weep when you imagine him in a Michigan uniform but here’s some additional ESPN draft hype for you masochists. Even current Piston and Sweden native Jonas Jerebko was recruited by John Beilein.

Given Beilein’s track record and the need for talent, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him look to Europe once again.’s Christopher Ney gave me the names of two of the top German prospects that potentially could be looking to attend college in the States rather than sign professionally in Germany.

dennis ogbe giffey
Dennis Ogbe and Niels Giffey

The first is Dennis Ogbe, a 6-foot-5 forward (video here) who plays a bit bigger. Here’s a recent scouting report from EuropeanProspects:

The PF from Franken Hexer did a lot of dirty work in the paint which you may not recognize like setting screens, boxing out and playing strong defense. It was always his task to defend the best scorers of the North team and he did a good job there. Offensively, he emerged in the last quarter where he hit two big baseline shots in the money time, one was a tough 3 pointer from the corner with 1.2 seconds on the clock to force the overtime after having seen his previous drive rejected badly. Ogbe needs to progress in his ballhandling as he is only 1m97 tall which limits him to play the PF spot in the future.

NBBL Stats: 21.4ppg (55.8% 2FG), 9.1rpg, 2.0spg

The other name was Niels Giffey, a 6-foot-6 versatile forward who missed some time due to mononucleosis (video, #5 in yellow). EuroProspects says:

the forward from ALBA Berlin showed in Bonn that he is still one of the most talented players in Germany. He can do it all, rebound, score and win games…

His shot looks improved and he showed nice range throughout the game and can vary the outside-inside game pretty well. With his shooting improving, Giffey is on the right move and the long-time illness seems gone.

NBBL Stats: 13.6ppg (61.8% 2FG, 44.4% 3FG), 4.4rpg. More scouting, and more.

At this point these guys are nothing more than names to throw around. There are hundreds of players who might be interested in playing basketball in the states. I’ve got no idea if Beilein is even thinking about bringing in a European player but it’s hard to imagine he won’t take a look, especially as a backup plan. Beilein’s best chance to check some of these kids out might be the Albert Schweitzer Tournament (April 3-10, 2010), a huge youth tournament in Germany that takes includes sixteen different U18 national teams.

For more on Michigan basketball recruiting, check out the second half of the article at The Wolverine Blog.

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  • Taddie

    I’m pretty sure Beilein said that Cronin would stay on scholarship despite his injury, so he will be one of our thirteen for two more seasons regardless of whether he can ever play again.

  • If he is truly done for his career (which seems to be the case) he will move to medical scholarship where he won’t count against the 13.

  • Taddie

    Explain. Because, that would be awesome if true, but I’ve never heard of such a thing. Is this something was created for just this occasion, a dude you recruit to play for you but can never play again, so you still honor his free schooling? Is there a limit to how many you can have?

  • Yeah.. I don’t know the specifics of the rule but there is an NCAA rule in place that covers scholarship athletes that sustain career ending injuries. This prevents schools from kicking kids to the curb and allows them to still get their education.

    Same kind of deal as Antonio Bass on the football team.

  • Taddie

    Well that is a lot better than having to eat Cronin’s scholarship, despite it being the right thing to do. God I hope we get Zeigler.

  • While I thought that Vitale was unfair in his criticism of Peedi (what more do you want from him?), his surprise that M hasn’t done better in pulling recruits is warranted.

    I was as excited as anyone about the Beilein hire–climbed on the train when his name was first mentioned. But I begin to wonder what the hold-up is. Obviously, DMo was a good catch; (as) obviously, things don’t always work out w. kids you bring in. But I’m spooked about the failure to pull in top-notch talent.

    I see this year as a strong indicator of whether we start stepping up to the plate, recruit-wise. Even as somebody opposed to crazy-high salaries and the coaching carousel, I worry the long contract extension for Coach might have been premature. Am I just over-anxious?

  • AG2

    I’m really nervous about Zeigler. Talk around town here in East Lansing is that Izzo is trying hard to open up a scholarship for him.

  • There’s all sorts of talk about Zeigler. Depends what town you are in and who you talk to. I’m of the belief that most people talking don’t have a clue. MSU would likely open a ‘ship by pushing Herzog along rather than having him back for a 5th year. There are still not a lot of minutes in EL in the backcourt with Lucas, Summers, Allen, Lucious, Appling, Byrd, etc.

  • fresh

    sam webb is going to know more about zeigler than anybody around town does and he said that ucla is the team to watch out for……..hands down

  • Benjamin

    Awesome. More TZ speculation.

    Lets just wait and see.

  • Webb knows his stuff. I believe he’s also insisted that Michigan is very much in play as well. Gotta let things play out.

    On the recruiting theme… Calvin should be headed to Southfield/Clarkston tonight to get some footage & scouting of Carlton Brundidge.

  • Ken in Vegas

    I don’t understand why people think that Michigan is entitled to excellent recruits and Beilein is somehow missing the boat. In fact, he has four top 100 recruits locked up (DMo, Smot, THard, Brund) over a three year period, with the potential for Zeigler. Considering that we have average history, average facilities, few sellouts, and have been to the tourney once in 11 years, Beilein is actually recruiting above expectations. Look at other teams with this same profile and see if they are landing five stars every year. Moreover, see if their fan base is complaining. Cmon Michigan fans, get back in touch with reality. I love Michigan more than what is healthy, but I don’t think that “We are Michigan. We should be getting top 10 basketball recruiting classes each year.” Instead, I think “We are Michigan. A mid level basketball program that has a chance to build up to something special, but it will take patience.”

  • Alex

    I am most curious about Horford. I’m wondering if Beilein saw something he doesn’t like or if he has a recruit up his sleeve.

    I agree with Ken to some degree. On paper Beilein seems to be recruiting pretty well. Let’s see what happens.

  • Michigan at Michigan State is slated for Sunday, March 7 at 4 p.m. on CBS.

  • I agree with the idea that U of M has been down the last ten years, but the average history comment is incorrect. Name me all of the schools that went to an NCAA championship game (not the final four) in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s beside Michigan? Also, Michigan still holds a sizeable advantage in the series record with MSU. So much for an average history.

  • Alex

    That CBS comment is interesting. May also be premature of the network. What it says to me is that they think we are at least capable of a run. Otherwise why take the game?

    The odds of a run are still very long. Pomeroy said .04 percent right?

  • Drew

    Aw man, another Drew? I liked it better when I was the only one. I propose you change your name to “Drew2” or something along those lines.

  • Michael P

    I do agree with Ken, upgrading the facilities has been a long time coming…

  • The CBS thing tells me that they think MSU will be playing for the Big Ten title and Purdue/PSU doesn’t quite do it on a national level.

  • Alex

    I guess either way it is a win-win for the networks. I did not think of that but it explains why they scheduled it early.

  • Tweeter

    UM definitely has good basketball history (not recently) but overall. I would say without a doubt they are top 20 in that regard if not top 15. I believe Sagarin did a all-time ranking recently and UM might have been top 10. I thought that was a bit high, but there is certainly a lot of history.

    The problem is that none of that really matters to recruits these days. The top guys are only going to be on campus for a year or two, so they are much more interested in what you have done lately and what you can provide them while on campus (not illegal stuff, but facilities, atmosphere, etc.). That is where UM has failed. There has been nothing to sell recruits on. That all changes now that the new facilities are coming and UM is starting to build a consistent winner.

  • Sam

    Me and a few of my friends will also be making the trip to Southfield tonight for the showdown with Clarkston. I’ll be sure to give my input again too.

  • Sound good Sam.

  • Gary Grant Fan

    While I agree that Michigan’s recent on court woes and sub-standard facilities have made recruiting more difficult, I’m underwhelmed with the talent that Beilein has brought in so far. For all the issues a lot of us had with Amaker’s coaching ability, the fact remains that his first two classes (Horton, Abram, Hunter, Brown, Ba, D. Harris, C. Sims and Petway) are far better than Beilein’s first two classes — and Amaker was dealt a far weaker hand. When Tommy was given the head coaching job there were no plans for a practice facility, there were only two or three competent players on the roster, and during his second year Michigan was barred from the post-season, yet somehow he got better players to come here. Darius Morris may turn out to be a fine point guard but he’s no Daniel Horton.

    It seems to me that hiring Beilein was a huge break from Michigan’s basketball past — typically Michigan had a coach who (one way or another)won by getting better talent, not by having a coach who tried to out-scheme the opposition. While Beilein’s record speaks for itself, it remains to be seen whether or not he will be able to return the team to the upper echelon of the Big Ten. Though it would be even nicer if it could without cheating…

  • Mark

    I will be at the Southfield vs clarkston game too. This is big game for them I expect CB to have a big game.

  • ToBlav

    We are better off with a coach who starts slow on recruiting and builds over a few years time than one who starts strong and fades out of sight. When you berate Douglas and Novak as recruits compared to Coach Amaker’s recruits how do you explain that they came in and started ahead of three years of Amaker’s recruits (or what was left of them) who all had more experience than they did.

  • Matt

    Tommy Amaker doesn’t coach at Michigan any longer.

  • Thanks, Ken, for reminding me that Beilein has landed some talent beyond Morris, though I’m not yet convinced that Smotrycz will contribute top-100 results. (Hardaway keeps looking better and better, though.) I don’t quite see it as a question of being entitled to anything, but losing seeing what edge we had evanesce. I wouldn’t blame Beilein if it happened, he is who he is, and I think he’s incredibly cool, in fact. But kids may see a difference between ‘genius coach who gets amazing results from middling recruits’ and ‘coach who gets you into the league.’

  • fresh

    smotrycz is going to dominate in the big ten and will have a great career………hes 6’9″ who can be you off the dribble drive and can shoot……..he will be great

  • Gary Grant Fan

    I would never “berate” Novak and Douglass, but lets face it — they are mediocre shooting guards playing outside of their natural positions because of a lack players at the 1 and the 4. Perhaps they’ll get better, but I just don’t see tremendous athleticism or skills. Morris and LLP’s inconsistency are well documented, and the rest of Beilein’s recruits have not yet earned significant minutes on the court. Yes, Tommy Amaker was a sub-standard bench coach, and yes, he had three lousy recruting classes in the middle of his tenure, but when he left the team had DeShawn Sims, Ekpe Udoh, and signed letters of intent from Manny Harris, Alex Legion and Kelvin Grady. Have the two John Beilein recruiting classes that are currently on the roster yielded five players with that amount of talent?

    I’m still hoping for the best as we move forward, but the thrust of my argument is that Beilein’s hiring was a significant shift in what the priorities are in the head coaching position. Frieder and Fisher were not great X and O coaches either, but the thinking seemed to be that when you have Glen Rice, Chris Webber, and yes, Gary Grant, you didn’t need John Wooden on the bench — just have the coach sub the right players in and out, and more often than not, you’d have a good chance for victory. The thinking now seems to be that Izzo’s got the best talent in the state locked up, Michigan no longer has a great reputation nationally as a basketball school, so we need a coach who can do more with less.

    Because so far he just hasn’t gotten very much top notch talent…

  • ToBlav

    Gary Grant Fan — I don’t disagree real strongly but I’d still say it’s a pretty thin roster that can keep two mediocre out of position shooting guard off the floor. Also, it is still a limited sampling and early to judge the freshman. The injuries to Conan and Morgan impact the impression this last to classed make too.

  • My Friend Gary Grant Fan-

    You are right Amaker did leave with 5 quality players coming in, but he would have never won with them. He was a lousy coach, all he could do was recruit somewhat. He got good players, not NBA talent players like Izzo or Bobby Knight.

    I would take a great strategic coach over a recruiter any day. Do you think Bo Ryan is a poor coach? He takes average players and consistently turns out being one of the top three teams in the Big Ten, year in year out.

  • Gary Grant Fan

    While I’m on the fence regarding whether its better to have a great bench coach or a great recruiter, I would never argue with the best 6′ 2″ forward in the history Michigan basketball.

  • bird

    I’m going to kick this dead horse one more time, and only because Dylan asked about a possible “sleeper recruit.” Anyway, Rivals still has uncommitted four-star forward Julian Washburn listed as having medium interest in Michigan (as high as any school). Will ears pick up if I mention that he’s currently a teammate of Mike Gilchrist? Do you think maybe Julian and Mike ever talk to each other? Maybe about where they’re going to play college ball? Maybe they’re buddies! Maybe they want to play together somewhere! Maybe somewhere where they can shock the world.

    This is total ignorant speculation on my part, but perhaps in order for there to be any buzz, we need to create it. And if somehow it comes to fruition, don’t forget a little bird told you.

  • fresh

    dion harris, daniel horton, courtney sims were all top 40 nba talent kids that just never developed right………horton was real close though…….izzo just gets more kids that are at that level…….you cant win championships with 2 or 3 top 100 kids most of the team needs to be top 100

  • Kenny

    If Manny is to stay, Beilein don’t have scholarships for both Horford and Zeigler.

  • I dont think wright will be back next year, so there will
    be room for both

  • Ben

    There is room for both Horford and Zeigler because of Cronin’s injury. We always had 1 scholly for Zeigler but once beilien said Cronin was done he started recruiting Horford. Cronin’s schooly opening leaves us with 2 for 2010. If we don;t use both then we can use them in 2011.

  • Sam

    So me and a couple friends made the short trip to Southfield to take in the Clarkston @ Southfield matchup and to see the future of Michigan’s team, Carlton Brundidge, play. Going in, I knew that both teams were supposed to be pretty good. I didn’t know, however, that this game would basically decide the league championship and that Clarkston had previously beat Southfield by 7 points this year. So I got more than I bargained for right off the bat. In warmups, not much happened, but I liked the way Brundidge’s shot looked. I had heard before that shooting was one of his downfalls, but he showed nice form and very good rotation. The release is quite slow though and could be worked on.

    The first half was completely dominated by Southfield, leading by around 17 at halftime. Clarkston’s star player, Matt Kamieniecki (sp?), former Michigan target and Ball State commit, came out strong, but quickly picked up two fouls, leaving him to stare hopelessly from the bench for the remainder of the half. The two die-hard Clarkston fans right in front of us repeatedly mentioned that Clarkston’s head coach (Dan Fife, who apparently played at Michigan and is the father of Duggan), has never played a player with two fouls in the first half and they continuously voiced their displeasure with his decision, especially in such a big game.

    Despite Southfield’s dominant half, or maybe because of, Brundidge was extremely quiet, going 1-6 from the field, making only a three pointer at the buzzer while rimming a couple mid-rangers out and missing one layup among the trees. He also had three rebounds, one assist, and a steal off a deflected pass. He showed great patience and didn’t force anything, which impressed me. He had a nice drive that turned into a pull-up when it was clear that he would not make it to the hoop. He couldn’t put anything in, but he showed that he didn’t care about his own stats more than the team’s success. It should be noted right away that Southfield actually does not run an offense. It consists of one guy bringing the ball up and trying to get past his man. If that fails, he will attempt to find an open man, but Brundidge’s man was consistently trying to deny him the ball and Brundidge did not handle the ball much. The four guys that were off the ball seemed to be told to stand like statues, because no one moved at all, and the coach didn’t seem to be displeased with it. I literally did not see one screen set by Southfield the whole game that was not called an illegal screen.

    The second half was apparently what everyone else came to see. Clarkston came out and started to make some shots and continued to chip away at Southfield’s lead. Southfield looked content to hold the ball at times and try to waste clock time. Eventually, Clarkston started to pressure the ball to try to get back into the game. By the end of the third quarter, I believe Clarkston was within single digits and was starting to gain some momentum. This is about the time that Brundidge started to show what he was made of. He brought the ball up court much more often in the second half and only recorded one turnover the whole game, according to my count, in which he actually made a very nice pass in the air while going up for a layup that the big man just wasn’t expecting and couldn’t handle. It would have been a nice assist if the guy wasn’t Zack Gibson. Throughout the second half, Brundidge started to show his killer slashing abilities, routinely splitting double teams to get to the hole while also showing a very nice stroke. The most impressive play of the game from Brundidge was on a 1-on-2 fast break in which he sped past a couple defenders in the open court around halfcourt, looked around to see if anyone was open, saw that he was alone, found three point line, stepped out and to his left, and splashed the three. He also made a very nice up-and-under and-one layup, finishing for a three point play. He posted a final stat line of 22 points on 6-11 shooting (3-4 3pt., 7-7 FT), seven rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one turnover. Clarkston continued to push in the second half, and ended up getting within 5 midway through the fourth quarter, but just could not stop Brundidge. “CB” made at least three shots that were daggers to Clarkston’s chances of a comeback and repeatedly broke presses with no help from his teammates to keep the game out of reach. In the last few minutes of the game, one of his single-handed press breaks really stood out in my mind. He got the inbounds pass close to the corner, looked to see if he had any help, quickly noticed that all of his teammates were past halfcourt, and simply split four Clarkston players before making it past halfcourt and pulling it out to run the clock a little more. He also made all seven of his free throws, getting nothing but net the majority of the time. Southfield ended up winning the game by three points, but that score is a little deceptive, as Kamieniecki made two threes within the final 15 seconds or so to make the score look a little closer.

    The one part of Brundidge’s game that was lacking somewhat was defense. He didn’t play bad defense per se, he simply didn’t show a whole lot of effort on that side of the floor. Southfield almost exclusively played the 2-3 zone, and Brundidge was consistently matched up on Kamieniecki in the post for some reason. I can say with confidence, however, that Southfield would not have weathered the storm without Brundidge on the court for the whole second half. Southfield had some good talent, but as I mentioned before, there was simply no offensive system whatsoever. It should be noted that Brundidge was wincing a fair amount in the second half, appearing to hold his back. He also took a much-disputed charge in the first half from Kamieniecki.

    If I had to compare Brundidge to someone on the current Michigan team, I would say Laval Lucas-Perry, but version 2.0. Brundidge appears to be a bit chunky and could stand to tone his body a bit, but showed great quickness despite this thickness. I also question the 6’2 that he was listed at in the roster guide. I think 6’0 flat would be fairly accurate, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was only 5’11. In comparison to LLP, Brundidge seems to have good handles, can get to the rack, and is a solid shooter. He probably is a little better at the first two of these attributes than LLP already, and he will certainly be able to improve his release speed a little bit.

    Overall, I was very impressed with Brundidge’s game and am happy to know that he is already in the fold. On a side note, Clarkston’s token African American was almost the exact mold of Ekpe Udoh, who used to be my favorite Michigan player. He had extremely long arms, almost all the way down to his knees and also looked quite similar to him, but was a bit shorter, listed at 6’6 and is probably not a high-major prospect by any means.

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