Class of 2013 Primer: Guards

Dylan Burkhardt

As the calendar rolls into June, we draw closer to one of the most important days on the Michigan basketball recruiting calendar: sophomore offer day. Because John Beilein adheres to the NABC guidelines for offering sophomores, June 15th will be the first day that the Michigan staff extends offers to class of 2013 prospects. In preparation for the big day, we’ll take a look at some of the main 2013 targets in a position-by-position breakdown.

As things currently stand, Michigan has two scholarships to grant in the class of 2013. Because of transfers, early entry, 5th-year situations and every other form of potential attrition, I’d be surprised to see Michigan sign fewer than three players in the class of 2013.

One of those scholarships will almost certainly be tendered to a point guard. John Beilein loves to stagger his point guards two years apart and the impressive crop of 2013 floor generals fits that plan perfectly. The guards on this list have varying styles of play, whether true points or combos, but all of them would likely play an important role in the backcourt of Michigan’s offense.

jacksonprofile052411[1]Demetrius Jackson
Video: Spiece / Adidas May Classic
Mutual Interest: High
List: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Xavier

Jackson isn’t the tallest of the guard prospects that Michigan is recruiting but he’s well built and explosive. Despite measuring around 6-foot, Jackson will go up and grab alley-oops but can also finish off of the dribble. He’s labeled a combo guard because he’s an impressive scorer, but he’s a capable passer and looks to create for others. He’s still looking for consistency with his jumpshot but he’s not a bad shooter, hitting five threes in a game I saw at Spiece. What truly stands out about Jackson is his relentless attacking style of play with the ball in his hands.

Michigan has told Jackson that he’s one of the top prospects on their 2013 recruiting board and he’s almost certain to earn an offer on June 15th. Jackson will attend Michigan Elite Camp on June 11th, Xavier on June 18-19th and unofficially visit MSU on June 21st

928450[1]Derrick Walton
Video: King James / Spiece / Freshman
Mutual Interest: High
List: Central Michigan, Connecticut, DePaul, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Stanford, Tennessee, Western Michigan and Xavier

Walton is a pure point guard in every sense of the word. He doesn’t have the jumping ability of a player like Jackson but he uses his quickness to get into the lane and is a dynamic passer with incredible court vision. He looks to setup teammates but is also capable of exploding in the scoring column as well.

Jackson put up big numbers during his sophomore season and also had a strong spring and is ranked 91st by ESPN and 88th by Derrick told us this spring that he thought a Michigan offer was coming soon and he’s made frequent visits to Ann Arbor, most recently on May 13th. The next unofficial visit on his schedule will be to Tennessee this weekend after attending Elite Camp there.

monte[1]Monte Morris
Video: King James / Spring AAU / State semis
Mutual Interest: High
List: Iowa, Marquette, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, OSU,

Flint Beecher native has already won his fair share of games, helping Flint Beecher to the Breslin Center. He was invited to ESPN’s Super Sophomore camp last summer and has played very well with Team Detroit on the Spring AAU circuit.

He’s a cat quick guard and true point that gets to the whole with ease. He’s undersized but a solid decision maker with a good feel for the game. He’s far from a selfish player, integrating seamlessly with a Team Detroit team that is loaded on talented guards. Morris visited Michigan yesterday evening and he plans to take three or four more visits this June.

935390[1]Jalen James
Video: Spiece
Mutual Interest: High
List: Baylor (offer), Cleveland State (offer), Dayton, DePaul, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Providence, Tennessee and Wisconsin,

James has risen on midwestern recruiting boards this spring after playing his high school ball away from the spotlight at Hope Academy, a small charter school in Chicago. James is about 6-foot-3 with a solid build and he certainly is under good instruction from Mike Mullins of the Illinois Wolves, who has previously coached Demetri McCamey and Evan Turner.

James has a good frame for a point guard and is strong with the ball. He’s a solid passer and looks to make the smart pass rather than the flashy pass. His game should take the next step as he learns to be more assertive and aggressive with the ball to create for himself. James has visited Ann Arbor and told us that he plans to attend Michigan’s Elite Camp on June 11th.

28672_104121202969618_100001152164835_36206_4840823_n1_thumb[1]EC Matthews
Video: Michigan Team Camp ‘10 / High School Highlights / Spiece
Mutual Interest: Medium-High
List: Florida State, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and USC

Physically, Matthews is the most impressive of Michigan’s 2013 guard targets (that have the potential to play the point). He’s around 6-foot-4 with great athleticism and a great first step. He’s not a natural point guard like Derrick Walton, and his jumper is streaky, but he has all of the tools to excel as his skills catch up with his athleticism. He’s an able passer but his game thrives around attacking the hoop.

Matthews was exceptional at Michigan’s Team Camp last summer but was lost in a shuffle on a talented and deep Romulus squad that played experience over potential. He’s played well for The Family this spring, earning spots in all three major services’ top 100 rankings: 36th on Scout, 83rd on Rivals and 45th on Matthews has kept his recruitment relatively close to the vest but things should start to heat up this summer.

denzel-watts-4jpg-00944a61925153ff[1]Denzel Watts
Video: King James / Spring AAU
Mutual Interest: Medium-High
List: CMU (offer), Detroit-Mercy (offer), Michigan, Michigan State, Oakland (offer) and Purdue

Watts is a power guard that gets to the hoop by bullying smaller and weaker defenders. The Flint native has draw comparisons to Mateen Cleaves and epitomizes the “Flint Stone” mold of guard. Big, strong and tough but at this point he’s more of a scorer, generally playing off the ball with Team Detroit. He has focused on becoming more of a well rounded point guard and it has shown in his play this spring.

He visited Michigan for the Northwestern game back in February and plans to take more visits this June. He hasn’t picked up quite as much buzz as some of the other guard prospects on Michigan’s radar, partially because he plays on a loaded Team Detroit team that has an ample number of options.


  • Charles Tucker: Tucker has played with All-Ohio Red this summer and hasn’t received nearly the buzz as some of the other Michigan guard targets.
  • Dontel Highsmith: Combo guard from Dowagiac, MI plays up with ACB/Bank Hoops on the AAU circuit. Has drawn some Big Ten interest
  • Jaylon Tate: Another Illinois guard that’s drawing high major interest, Tate plays with the Mean Streets AAU program and lists Xavier, Northwestern, Illinois, Purdue, Providence, Michigan, Marquette, Florida and Ohio State.
  • Zavier Turner: Strong but extremely short point guard, Turner plans to visit Michigan for Elite Camp.

1. “Mutual interest” is obviously subjective and visits were the primary metric used.
2. This board is far from a complete list and is just our best estimation of the situation as it stands today.
3. School lists are alphabetical.
4. If you have corrections, comments or additions don’t hesitate to e-mail me at

  • Anonymous


  • KRN

    Out of all the targets, I bet we end up with Walton. He seems to be showing the most interest and I would not be suprised if he committed within a week of being offered. Plus I really like pass-first point guards.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, I completely agree. I said earlier that I wouldn’t be surprised if he committed on the 15th. Obviously that is not a likely scenario, but I have heard a few things that he grew up a huge Michigan fan and remains one today. There was a note a while back about how Coach Bacari went to watch him play one time and Walton appeared very happy to see him there and was seen donning a block M hat afterward.

      Having said that, I would be very happy to have one of Walton, Jackson, Morris, Matthews or Watts. All look to be fine players at the next level. Maybe even take two if Beilein feels one could play off the ball.

  • Kenny

    Nice breakdown. 

  • CraigP

    Seems unfair to me that we are waiting until June 15 to give scholarship offers to 2013 recruits, and Tom Crean already has two verbal commitments from recruits for 2014!! These guys are in 9th grade.  

    • Kenny

      I am not worrying, most talents develop after 9th grade. 

      • MaizeNBlueJ

        I agree completely. Two such examples, were from when Amaker was coach. He took early commits from Jerret Smith and Ron Coleman, with Smith being the prime example. I don’t think he developed much at all from the day he committed on.

  • Mattski

    Dylan–did you see the post a mgoblog suggesting M had offered Mitch McGary, possibly for this year? Do you know about that? 

    • Anonymous

      i saw it.  I guess I assume it is true even though I have not heard anything about UM and McGary for some time now (dont have an espn account to access their rumors page, where apparently the info came from).  If I had to guess, I would say that UM offered him that option awhile ago and it was just mentioned now since Uconn also offered him that option.  The reason I say that, is that McGary himself did not mention UM as a school that was recruiting him that hard right now.  I don’t think we have much of a shot at him considering how open he has been about his recruitment, how little we have heard about UM interest and all the other big time programs going after him.

      Add to that, the comment that Jankovic made about having a good conversation with Beilein recently.  I really get the feeling that with Beilein, he goes after a few guys, feels them out, decides what his chances are, then moves on to the next guys. 

      • Mattski


      • sane1

        I believe that the staff is recruiting McGary hard, but it’s an uphill battle. Sounds like McGary is unlikely to come out in the 2011 class anyway. Jankovic is intriguing, but he said in April that Wake Forest was his clear leader at this point. The good thing about this staff is that they’ve cultivated several options, as this report on 2013 guard prospects demonstrates. One criticism I had of Amaker was that he focused too much on a single recruit and didn’t have quality back-up options when he missed. Finally, we are getting traction with a lot of quality recruits now. It took awhile, but it’s looking good for the future.

  • JBlair52

    I want Matthews or James – get a bigger guard that can do work like Morris did.

    • Bluebufoon

      I hope U-M ends June with three new commitments in the class of 2013, Mr Walton at PG, Mr Donnal down low and Austin Hatch on the wing. Sounds like players are about to “POP” if I’m reading Bacari’s twitter properly.

  • Colby

    Great stuff Dylan, any chance they take Matthews as a wing? Looking forward to the other primers. Thanks

  • eastsidefinest

    Wow thats crazy heard walton was has an offers from central michigan , UofD ,  and drawing interest from other schools like arkansas, usc, wright state, arkon, bulter, indiana ,bowling green, temple, but he might lean towards ???? excellent ball player and at 6’0 tall might be the best rebounder out of the class saw him score 22 straight points at a  recent tournament the kids is amazing  great fit go get him blue

  • gpsimms

    i think sam webb reported M is no longer in it for Bruenig.

    • gpsimms

      too many bigs, he said.

      • Yeah… As I said, I don’t think we were ever that “involved” there unless he ended up visiting. He visited USF over the weekend, or earlier this week, I believe.

  • although i feel its a very huge plus to have so many options for 2013 (@ pg), but on the other end of the spectrum i also feel that this could hurt us in the end..most kids are uncomfortable being recruited by a school thats looking at 3 or 4 other players at the same position..once we decide on whos the priority do u believe theres an fear of the non priority prospects feeling like the backup plan i.e sloppy 2nds..? 

  • Bill

    I saw Watts play early in the season and he has a nice shot and handles the ball well. He is a good player. There are other players who might find their way in the list as next season gets going. I’ve seen a few in the flint area who if they keep developing could be good prospects.

    • Bluebufoon the Rivals Indiana site did an interview with Drake Harris, the rising Sophomore from Grand Rapids. Couple of notes, U- M is the only school Harris is camping at this summer. His list of schools included U-M, MSU, IU & Purdue but U-M was the first school he mentioned. Harris also plays this summer for the  Meanstreets club, which I believe is based out of Illinois and I think founded by U-M alum Tai Streets.

      • sane1

        Thanks for the info.

      • Justin Sedlecky

        Like was mentioned above with regard to young players, I feel like it is way too early to get excited about Harris.  Saw him in person in December with Sam, and although it was just one game, you wouldn’t have been able to tell at all that he was a top freshman, if you hadn’t known first.  Although I’m sure he does have lots of potential.