2011 College Practice Camp Wrap-up

Dylan Burkhardt

Media were allowed into Michigan’s College Practice Camp on Saturday afternoon to watch around 100 prospects go head-to-head in drills and scrimmages. Cameras and camcorders were not allowed but we were allowed to observe and publish our thoughts. We already posted two scouting posts, which touch on all of the primary Michigan recruiting targets that were in attendance:

Beyond those traditional scouting reports, here is an assortment of leftover thoughts and impressions about the camp, some of the primary targets and Michigan’s recruiting strategy going forward.

This was the strongest Elite camp field since John Beilein arrived in Ann Arbor

Recent Elite Camps have generally featured a strong group of in-state prospects and a handful of out of state prospects that were really interested in Michigan, usually trying to play their way into a scholarship. This year’s field was stronger than any previous years, especially in the backcourt and on the wing. Not only were a number of 2012 and 2013 prospects in attendance, but the staff did a great job of getting a much stronger younger group together as well.

The in-state group featured almost all of the state’s top recruits, with the two most notable absences being James Young and EC Matthews,  both of whom were at the Nike Elite 100 Camp in St. Louis ($). While it’s one thing to convince in-state kids to drive a couple hours to attend a camp, it’s another ball game to convince droves of out of state prospects to drive five or six hours for a one day camp.

A number of impressive prospects from Ohio, Illinois and Indiana were in attendance, especially in the younger age groups. The credit for the influx in talent needs to go to the assistant coaches who have worked to cultivate relationships with the midwestern AAU coaches who are usually responsible for organizing these trips. It’s no coincidence that large groups of prospects from the Eric Gordon All-Stars, Mean Streets, Illinois Wolves and SW Illinois Jets attended the event.


Monte Morris won the day

Michigan’s top point guard prospects were all in attendance and everyone in the gym, including the players themselves, knew it.

The guard targets all played pretty well but it was Monte Morris who was most impressive. Morris was very good during drills, took a couple tough losses in 3-on-3 play and then exploded during 5-on-5 play to finish the night. He had a string of great games on the main floor, in front of the Michigan coaches, controlling the tempo and dominating the game as a great point guard should. He didn’t force shots, but scored with ease slicing to the basket, and also ran the pick-and-roll very well. Most of the games on the main floor came down to the final possession, or were even decided by sudden death free throw shooting contests. When Morris’s squad started clicking on the main floor they cruised to a couple comfortable victories.

It was just one day in a unique venue (short games and abnormal rotations) but Morris deserves credit for seizing the moment.

On the guards…

I don’t think Michigan can go wrong in landing any of the top group of guards on the radar at this point. They are all different types of players but all are productive and have the ability to make an impact. Demetrius Jackson is the most athletic, Monte Morris might be the most complete player, Derrick Walton is the best passer and Jalen James is the biggest.

Jackson plans to make a return visit to Ann Arbor on June 30th and Monte Morris (who we interviewed last week) will be back on campus with his high school team for Team Camp on June 25th and 26th. Walton, James and Morris have all taken unofficial visits within the past month.

If one of those four wants to commit early, it means that Michigan has a great point guard lined up to succeed Trey Burke. The Wolverines appear to have done a great job in all of those recruitments, already securing multiple trips to campus. I would expect that Jackson, Morris and Walton all earn offers this Wednesday at the least.


On the wings…

While Michigan might not be able to go wrong with any of the top guard targets, there appears to be more risk involved when evaluating the wing prospects on the board. It’s a strong group overall, but it’s also a group that has plenty of questions to answer.

The group features an array of different style players that feature plenty of potential but most are at a stage in their careers where things could progress in either direction.

Weighing the potential versus production battle is obviously why coaches are paid the big bucks. A year ago, Glenn Robinson III was an intriguing prospect that was still growing into his body. He had a good performance at Elite Camp but most wouldn’t have projected him to be the top-100 player he is now. Taking an early commitment is a high-risk high-reward business so these questions come with the territory.

The scholarship crunch, and having two wings in the 2012 class,  means that Michigan can probably only take one wing in the class, which makes the decision all the more important. How many offers will John Beilein extend on June 15th? Will any of the bigger fish jump early? How long will Michigan wait for some of the higher rated options? If an offer was extended to someone like Austin Hatch, who has already named Michigan his leader, would he jump at the first opportunity to commit? There are a lot of questions that will be answered over the coming weeks and months.

markdonnal051611[1]On the bigs…

Mark Donnal really made a strong impression on me on Saturday. He didn’t do a whole lot when I saw him at Spiece a couple weeks back, although that was the last game of the night on a long Saturday. He was much more impressive during my second viewing and looked the part of a solid Big Ten big man.

It’s no secret that Michigan has fielded undersized teams over the last several years and adding a player like Donnal in every class would go a long ways toward avoiding those problems in the future. He has great feet, a good motor and appears very coachable — all great signs for a young big man.

Michigan’s big man board isn’t nearly as expansive as some of the other positions and there is some strong mutual interest between Donnal and the Michigan staff. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this recruitment heat up quickly in the near future.  (Photo: Inside The Hall/Jamie Owens)

  • I’m curious what you guys think… If you were John Beilein who would you offer on Wednesday?

    • Get Monte Morris! He has always been my favorite of this group of guards, and I think he has the highest ceiling.

      • mitch

        We need James Young.  Gotta like those kids from Troy

        • Yeah I’m not that high on James Young. As much as I would love to see a fellow Colt play for Michigan, I’m not a big fan. His teammate, Maceo Baston, on the other hand… keep an eye on him (class of 2014).

      • real 100

        wow nick high ceilings people thought miami was going to win, Walton

    • MHoops1

      I’d offer all four PGs (Morris, Jackson, Walton and James) and take the one who commits first. As to the wings, I’d clearly take either Irvin or Beachum right away, and I was very impressed with Hatch, who might also, if he grows a little, be a reasoble prospect at 4 should Jankovic and Donnal go a different way. They can probably finesse Hatch for another six weeks because he didn’t play this spring and he plays at such a small school (so as to see him against good competition), but if Irvin and/or Beachum aren’t ready to pop by then, I’d offer Hatch, and I wouldn’t be adverse to offering him now. As to Donnal, I’d probably let Jankovi’s recruitment run its course for a few months, but again, offering Donnal on Wednesday would be perfectly fine with me. I didn’t see anyone else at the Camp Saturday that I’d offer now.

      • Billiam

        Everything you just said, with the following modifiers:

        I will say this until Hatch is in, but I think the kid will blow up.  Ok, here’s a quick thought on why:

        1.) Belein almost always makes the right decision on talent.  For instance, lil’ Dog, Burke, Novak, Dougless, Morris, THJ (although he has been wrong with CB, who actually seems to have not grown as much as a player the past years.  But that’s minor as he’s still a top 100 guy.)

        2.) Hatch seems to still be growing.

        3.) The small school kids are the one’s that Belein has had the most success with.  THJ, Mitch McGary (who was rated MUCH lower a year or two ago, even though we didn’t get him.  Props to B for knowing to chase after him.)

      • sane1

        I think that we should offer Donnal for sure. He’s probably not committing in the near term anyway. We lose Morgan, McLimans, Horford and Smotrycz after the 2013-14 season. Having a big in both the 2012 and 2013 classes would be prudent given that Bielfeldt is the only big on the current roster who will still be here in 2014.

    • Anonymous

      I think that given the very high interest in Michigan from several top PG prospects, I think the staff can afford to cherry pick their favorite if they’re confident he’ll fall right away. I think a high ceiling in-stater like Morris who won a head-to-head battle would be the most likely recipient in this case IMO. His growth to 6’2″ is also very attractive. 

      If the staff is not confident in the mutual interest in a single prospect of their choosing, I’d say offer all your favorites and continue to recruit them hard. 

      It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming days and what the coaching staff decides to do. With all this talent out there that has strong interest in Michigan, and given this staff’s proven ability to evaluate and develop talent (see JMo, GRIII, etc…), I think we as fans will be very pleased with the results either way. 

      • real 100

        no one mention , why he is not up there in the caliber, the kid avg 24, 6reb 6 asst a game his ceiling is very high, hasnt finish growning 6’0 now

      • sane1

        From what I gather, Walton is the only 2013 PG who might commit to us in the near term if offered.

    • Goblue66

      Jackson, Morris, Beachum, Irvin and Hill, then see about Donnal depending on 2012 options

    • Anonymous

      I think for point guards, you have to offer Walton and Morris on the 15th, and perhaps Jackson as well. From the little I have seen of Jalen James, those three other guys just look like they are one level above him right now. Well you say Morris had the best day at camp, it has to be stressed that it is just one day. From all reports I have read and video I have seen, Walton looks very, very good, and if he is as big a Michigan fan as it has been reported, I really want him. I can’t wait for the fall/winter when I am back around AA so I can go watch some of these kids play in high school. Don’t count Denzel Watts out either.

      As for wings, I agree with a couple other posters here. I think we should go hard after Zak Irvin with his great length and athleticism and hope we can develop him into a premier shooter as well. Offer Irvin on the 15th, see what kind of interest we have, and go from there. If the coaches don’t think we have a good shot at him, then we look at Hatch, Beachem, etc.

      Bigs I think we see if we can somehow pull off Jankovic. If we can’t, give Donnal a closer look and maybe evaluate a couple others as well. Big guys are just so hard to judge this early on. I saw Jackson Lamb play once and he appears to have some potential as well.

    • Slim

      I personally like Derrick Walton I love pass fist point guards or Demetrius Jackson.

  • Mattski

    John Beilein speaking last night at a Washington, D.C. alumni event: 


  • real 100

    No walton fans wow a true warrior quite leader

    • I don’t think anyone is down on Walton. For my money the kid is a player. Makes everyone around him better. 

    • Anonymous

      Must not have read my comment, I am highest on Walton myself.

      • Bluebufoon

         I’m rooting for Walton at PG but I would be very happy wth Jackson or Morris at the PG spot.

        Donnal sounds like our Big Man of the future. I don’t believe there’s room for Jankovic or Matt Wllms, who I think is an under-rated big man.

        And I offer both Hatch and Irvin on the Wing and take both if they are willing.and able to come. Which protects us against Hardaway going pro early.

    • Mattski

      Judging by the one vid, I love Walton’s totally composed style. 

  • Anonymous

    Obviously its tough to say who to offer without knowing how many scholarships we are going to have.  The coaches hopefully have a better idea of what the roster will look like in two years.  So there are a couple different scenarios that could play out depending on if we have 1, 2, 3, or 4 schollys.  Also I dont really know how the coaches go about offering conditional-commitable spots.  Im sure it happens, since it seems to happen in football all the time, where a player has an offer, but can’t commit unless the coaches say ok.

    If its 1: I offer the best pg (in my opinion Jackson, but I would like to see more of Morris since he brings some nice size and both TB and CB are on smaller side) and Donnal.   I dont offer any wings right away.

    If 2: Same thing as 1, but I expand PG offers.

    if 3: Pgs, Donnal, Beachum, Irvin, and whatever other big looks solid.

    if 4: PGs, Donnal, Beachum, Irvin, Hill, Hatch, and several other big prospects.

  • JBlair52

    1) PG:  Mathews, Walton, Morris get offers early – look for an early commit
                     (not a fan of Jackson or James)2) Wing:  Irvin and Beachem offered early                  (keep Hill and Young nearby)  (Hatch – I’d wait a bit for him)

    3) Big:  wait it out a bit – we need a good one because whoever it is will be needed early.  Right now between 2011, 2012, and 2013 we only have Bielfeldt.  I used to be big on Jackson Lamb – I like his versatility.  Donnal – I think we could wait a bit on him to see how he develops and who shows up on the radar

    I think we need a PG the most.  We have good options that are highly interested.
    Wings – we have two in 2012 so I think we can afford to wait to see if someone GOOD is interested.  Bigs: there’s going to be early playing time available – I think if we can grab a good PG and get one of those top wings (Irvin or Beachem) then maybe we could attract a good BIG.

    • Paul

      I’m glad you didn’t forget Mathews and Young.  Young could likely turn into a 6’8-9 SF

  • Anonymous

    I asked John Beilein at the alumni event in NYC tonight to which PG’s he would be extending an offer on Wednesday. He wouldn’t tell me… sorry guys.

  • I know ballers

    What about Charles Tucker if you want a true point guard and floor leader, or the Morton kid if you want the best of both worlds with some size 6’3 180. Go Blue dont be sleeping on these two players you will be sorry later.

    • TKWolverine

      I don’t think that this staff could ever be accused of sleeping on any players. They are doing a great job of identifying and targeting proepects.

      • TKWolverine

        Make that “prospects”

  • I know ballers

    I just think with this state being so rich at the guard spot, for the 2013 class lets make sure we get the right one, There are alot of sleepers
    who had to earn there way like this year Mr. Basketball who really didnt blow up until his jr yr of high school also like Ray Mc Callum you know who I talking about. Its good to hear that you guy are doing a great job. No hatin going on  here. Its a hard job no doubt keep up the great work. Go Blue.

  • gravydrippings

    I want Young too!!! Hopefully msu doesn’t offer because he grew up a state fan.

    • Mzrostar

      Just out of curiosity, do you think potential recruits read this blog, and if so whether or not they write things such as “I think Belien should go after ______ ” with the blank being the recruit himself?

  • I prefer morris..an also matthews..but personally i think that walton of all the prospects is the most willing to commit upon bein offered..as far as donnal i think he’d be a great fit, but i do believe there are alot better bigs that will pop up on our radar..ultimately im just going to say that having so many prospects is eventually going to hurt us..how can a recruit feel like a priority recruit an 3 or 4 players are being recruited at the same position?..

  • Markstema1

    I think the offers will be:

    PG: Walton, Morris Jackson
    Wings: Hill, Beachum, Irvin, Hatch
    Bigs: Donnel

    • Anonymous

      That’s my guess too.  I think Hatch will accept the offer and I think Walton will join him pretty soon.  I think we will end up with two more spots for a big and then the best player we can get.  These are just wild ass guesses but I’m excited to see what happens tomorrow.

      I think we get Hatch because the family sounds serious about the education side and I read he wants to do pre med and business.  If want to do those two majors and Michigan wants to give you a free ride, there isn’t much reason to wait.