Zak Irvin to Michigan

Dylan Burkhardt

John Beilein discovered Zak Irvin over a year ago while watching his high school teammate, Gary Harris, in practice. Ever since, the 6-foot-6 wing forward has been one of the top 2013 prospects on Michigan’s recruiting board. Irvin picked up plenty of early offers but stayed true to the process, waiting patiently and opting not to commit early like so many other highly touted Indiana natives. In June he picked up coveted offers from Michigan and Butler, his eventual final two schools, before putting together his best month of basketball on the July evaluation circuit.

After officially trimming his list to just two schools last week, Irvin made the call today and informed John Beilein that he wanted to join the Wolverines – as was confirmed by his AAU coach. He is the third 2013 commitment for John Beilein, joining Austin Hatch and Mark Donnal in the class. Irvin is also the third commitment from the state of Indiana in Michigan’s 2012 and 2013 classes. Find more information, scouting reports and video after the jump.

Offers and Rankings

Irvin held offers from Butler, Baylor, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Miami (FL), Purdue, Tennessee and Xavier while schools Florida, Georgetown, Louisville and Michigan State had taken interest. [Photo: Jamie and J. Scott Sports]zirvin022111[1]

Irvin was once ranked as a top-50 prospect by most scouting services but saw his stock fall a bit this spring to around the 75-100 range. Observers noted that he turned his potential into production this July, and he should expect to rise in most post-summer recruiting rankings. Here’s where the major national scouting services ranked Irvin before July:

  • ESPN: No. 74, 4-star, 92/100
  • Rivals: 4-star, No. 97
  • Scout: 3-star, No. 22 SF


The first thing that stands out when you watch Irvin play is his length. He’s a legitimate 6-foot-6 and has long and skinny arms. He uses his length effectively on both ends of the floor and is most effective offensively with the mid-range jumpshot. He’s a capable shooter out to three point range and has shown a more attacking style of play this July.

Here’s what Joe Eberhardt had to say about Irvin the last time he saw him play at the Best of the Midwest tournament in July:

Irvin was arguably the top performer of the tournament at last week’s Best of the Midwest. He shot the ball very well, knocking down perimeter and mid-range jump shots off the bounce and the catch. Irvin also was a formidable passer and distributor, getting into the lane and using great vision to find teammates for open shots. Perhaps what was most impressive about Irvin’s week was the efficiency with which he performed. He made the most of the shots he took and wasn’t forcing the action as a penetrator or a passer.

Kyle Neddenriep of the Indy Star noted Irvin as one of 10 Indiana players that boosted their stock in July:

The 6-foot-6 wing from Hamilton Southeastern put together several strong performances in a row, particularly at the Best of the Midwest at the end of the week. Irvin even played point guard at times, which had to intrigue the coaches watching him (Butler’s Brad Stevens and Michigan’s John Beilein were at about every game). Irvin has been known as a shooter, but he’s also a very good defender and is starting to play with a lot more confidence. It looks like the 2013 prospect is having fun on the court.

ESPN’s Joel Francisco raved about Irvin after watching him in the championship game at the adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas:

Irvin is a prototypical 3-man for the high-major level. He has a terrific frame and he’s very athletic, but it’s his ball skills that really caught our eye. He has a knack to score in a variety of ways from the 3-point line as well as off the dribble. He had a couple of notable drives to the basket and he converted a few legitimate pull-up jump shots with a defender right on him. Irvin is a top-30 prospect for his class with continued improvement.

Here’s my take from Michigan’s Elite Camp in June:

He’s probably 6-foot-6 with a long wing span and is a very smooth athlete. His favorite move offensively is the pull up mid-range jump shot off of one or two dribbles, a shot that he can get almost whenever he wants. He needs to continue to improve his handle. At one point Javontae Hawkins caught him being careless with the ball and picked his pocket for an easy bucket in the other direction. As his handle develops, he should become more comfortable attacking the rim, rather than settling for the mid-range jumper.

Irvin has the tendency to defer a bit too much on his AAU team but was the closer for his squad in 5v5 play on Saturday. While he was on the floor, the offense ran through him and he played with great confidence. He hit the game winning shot, a coast to coast driving layup at the buzzer, in the first game of the night and calmly sunk the game winning sudden death free throw in another.

Best of Midwest – July 2011

Highlights – 2011 – @INBRecruits

Adidas Invitational – July 2011

Spiece Run ‘n Slam – May 2011

Eric Gordon All Star Classic – May 2011 Shootout – April 2011

High school footage – November 2010

Bottom Line

Irvin adds to the dynamic collection of wing players that John Beilein has stockpiled in recent classes. The most impressive aspect of Beilein’s recruiting haul is that each wing player has a unique skill set. Stauskas is a three point shooter with handle, Robinson a terrific athlete, Hatch a bigger and stronger shooter and now Irvin is a long and athletic mid-range player. With that many wing options in back to back classes there are a variety of looks – big and small – that Michigan will be able to utilize between the two, three and four positions.

The addition of Irvin to the 2013 class means that Michigan will most likely focus all of its attention to the point guard offerees: Monte Morris, Derrick Walton and Demetrius Jackson. That coupled with more attention to the class of 2012 where options like Mitch McGary, Stefan Jankovic, Sherron Dorsey-Walker and Gary Harris remain possibilities of various likelihood. In a hypothetical world, Irvin’s decision wouldn’t have any effect on someone like McGary who is likely a 1-and-done player. This sort of scholarship math will work itself out – when factoring in NBA departures, injuries, 5th years and transfers – especially when the class of 2013 is still two years away from setting foot on campus.

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  • Ben


  • Bbuck5

    GO BLUE!!!!!!!!!!!,now lets get a PG and take back the BIG TEN!

  • Kevin in GR

    Great news! Welcome to Michigan Zak! GO BLUE!

  • Elshark81


  • gpsimms

    nice, congrats to zak and go blue.

  • Steve2081


  • Paul

    Great get Beilein and Congrats to Zak and all the Michigan fans out there!  Go Blue!

  • sane1

    Watching some highlights, he seems to excel in the midrange game and the 10 foot runners. 

  • Maizeandblue11

    Huge pickup!! Love the potential, and hes gonna move up in the rankings just like GR3 and Donnall

  • ScottGoBlue

    Wow.  I’m simply in awe of the recruiting job our coaches are doing.  Zak, welcome to Ann Arbor!

  • Mattski

    Fabulous! What a summer Coach Beilein and crew have put together!

  • Jeff

    It’s interesting that ESPN always seems to have our recruits rated higher than anyone else. THey seem to be the most accurate though, especially in Hardaway’s case.

  • MGoTweeter

    congrats and Welcome Zak!

  • Are all Happy now.  With this Verbal Commitment from Zak, is all the recruiting complaining stopped for good?  I am just in awe and loving what Coach has done and I’m ecstatic about the very near future and beyond.  I’m coming out and clarifying that I’m a Coach Beilein Fan! Welcome to your new basketball home Zak.  Work hard and Play Hard!

    • South Florida Maize Rage

      I think the recruiting complaining has to stop for good. This summer has been unreal.

    • Ace_maker4

      How about we win a Big Ten Championship or make a Final Four. Yes it looks like he has landed more than his share of quality athletes but…………. I would like to see him land a big time stud in the paint so that we have other options in case the 3 ball is not dropping. If he can land Jankovic or McGary I would be all in for coach!

      • sane1

        I guess your answer is “No, the recruiting complaining has not stopped.”

      • Mattski

        So. . . self-defined fair-weather kinda fella, are ya? :)

        • Ace_maker4

          Fair weather? How can a die hard fan of 47 years of age who has been bleeding Maize & Blue for his whole life be a fair weather fan? I will however be realsitic and not drink the Kool Aid.

  • robpollard

    Hmmmm…the AAU coach’s Twitter post says “He has committed to Michigan University” — anyone know about this school?

    Oh well.  At least he got the mascot right! More importantly, his big-time player is coming to Ann Arbor.

  • Champswest

    Is anyone still saying that this staff can’t recruit?

    This is MICHIGAN!

  • GregGoBlue

    Welcome Zak and go blue!!

  • Flwolve

    Irvin reminds me of THJ.  I bet he ends up being JB’s highest ranked recruit when it’s all said and done.

  • Got rid of UM78, judging by his Disqus profile he was an Indiana fan trolling.

    • MGoTweeter

      lol i knew that guy was not a UM fan, and I just went thru all the trouble and looking at our recruiting compared to the schools he mentioned from 09-13.  And really?  An IU fan?  I mean I can understand if he was from one of the other mentioned schools, but IU?  

  • MGoTweeter

    btw, I did look at rivals rankings from 09-13 for Purdue, Indiana, OSU, MSU and Michigan.  Michigan is definitely below those schools based on stars but not nearly as far as I would have thought.  

    Purdue and Michigan are very close.  Purdue has 9 four stars to UM’s 6, and 7 three stars to UM’s 9.  But I would expect Donnal to get a fourth star at some point based on how other sites have him ranked.  Not to mention that THJr is one of our three stars, which like, wow.  

    The other three schools all have either two or in Indiana’s case 3, five stars during that time.  But Indiana only has two more four star or higher players than UM and the same number of three stars.  Not to mention that several of those recruits didnt last at IU (and not b/c of pro ball).  OSU has 8 four star and higher and only 4 three stars, but their ’13 class is far from done.  MSU probably has the best recruiting over this span with 9 four star or higher players and they have no ’13 recruits yet.  But ofcourse we just swept them last year.  

    So while I certainly would not argue that Michigan has out recruited any of those schools at least in terms of stars, it is pretty laughable to suggest there is much of a gap.  The only real difference is that Michigan has not landed a five star player, which is a big deal, but I would argue that if their was a rankings redux, THJr would without a doubt be a five star and several of the five stars that have gone to these schools would not be.  

    • Flwolve

      Thanks for the research.  I think the key point is that from a strictly by the numbers standpoint, we are now recruiting in the upper echelon of the Big 10.  Recruiting rankings aren’t an exact science so obviously there’s some debate involved but the gap between UM and the upper Big 10 teams is not significant so if JB can keep finding diamonds in the rough (i.e. Hardaway) then UM should start seeing continued success.

      I was extremely worried about JB’s recruiting after his initial class but I think he’s shown that he can recruit enough talent to UM to secure NCAA tournaments.  I think he’s now showing that he’s recruiting enough talent to compete for Big 10 championships but that is definitely still to be seen.

    • GregGoBlue

      All good points. Not that I give star-rankings too much credence, but it appears GR III is a candidate to receive a fifth star on rivals. 

    • kennyYe

      Being an underdog in recruiting throughout his career, Beilein relies more on his own ability than the recruiting sites to spot and develop under the radar talents. This is the difference between him and other top big ten head coaches, who almost exclusively start their career as assistant coach at elite programs and are accustom to competing for the top-ranked players. Once Beilein establishes a more equal footing with those guys (which is why he comes to UM and eventually materialized), his ability to spot and get involved with the talent early on will at least compensate for what he lacks of in tactics. If you factor in that Beilein runs one of the cleanest programs, he is far better a recruiter than he is given credit for.

    • Mattski

      Thanks. As usual, actually sorting out the facts sheds quite a bit of light. I was only dimly aware that Indiana was doing so well. I think we’re starting to see the doors open for Michigan. I hope the team can overachieve a little this year in order to keep things humming. 

  • Wayman Britt

    Welcome Mr. Irvin.  I think you made a great decision.  The UM basketball program is getting back to where it belongs.  Hey Zak – why don’t you call Monte and tell him to commit to UM too.

    • MGoTweeter

      Well if he is calling people, perhaps right after the call to Mr Morris, he can see how a former Indianian is doing and tell him to commit as well.  I think he plays out east now …

      • Bluebufoon

        Zak Irvin is a Derrick Walton guy and vice versa, they may have played together at U-M’s elite camp.

  • BIGBLUE 71

    michigan has caught msu and about to pass them as kingsof michigan with this commitment
    of irvin, now all we need is morris to commit

  • jemblue

    Awesome!  And it’s great to have so much of our recruiting wrapped up in the summer.  This program is building a lot of momentum.