Spike Albrecht went from under-the-radar NEPSAC point guard to Michigan Wolverine in a matter of weeks. We caught up with the future Wolverine to discuss his recruitment, his relationship with fellow 2012 recruits Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III as well as a number of other talking points in our fourth Getting to Know feature for the class of 2012.
I just did a get-to-know-you interview with your boy Mitch McGary. His recruitment couldn’t have been more different than yours. Did you consider your recruitment unique? How did it help or hurt you?
“Obviously, mine is going to be a lot different than all those guys’. For me to end up at a high-major school when I was getting recruited by nothing but small low-to-mid-majors until the end of my season, but I think that just comes from me. I never really played AAU, and AAU is big nowadays. But when you’re 5-foot-11, 150 pounds, I mean, I’m gonna get killed out there, so I was never able to do AAU. But for me, I think it was a blessing in disguise because I was just going to get hurt if I’d have played AAU. But I think I had an opportunity, with the way I’ve been recruited much like Novak and Douglass, to prove a lot of people wrong. It’d be a pretty cool story, for sure, if things worked out.”
So you never played AAU?
“I played when I was younger, with my school ball team. Last year, once I declared for prep school, the AAU team Mitch played on, they hit me up and I was like, ‘okay.’ At this point I had put on 20 pounds so I was a little bit stronger, so I was like, what the heck, I’ll give it a try. And it just didn’t work out. I mean, the second tournament, I broke my foot. I had one full tournament under my belt in AAU. I think that really hurt me as far as going into this year’s season because it took me a long time to heal from that. I lost a lot of the schools that were recruiting me because they didn’t get to see me in AAU. And then when I came out in the fall I still wasn’t playing, so it was a major step back. But it all worked out, eventually.”
You decided to take a summer off before your senior year to hit the weight room and focus on getting stronger. Did you accomplish what you set out to accomplish by doing that?
“Yes, definitely. It was going into my senior year, and that’s, like, the main AAU period. But I was still 145 — 5-foot-11, 145 pounds — and I was able to just work out five days a week that summer and I put on 20 pounds. My main focus going into my senior year was that I wanted to have a great senior year. I didn’t care about what schools were recruiting me or anything like that. I was focused on having a great senior year, and that’s what happened. So I think it was definitely a good move.”
You put on a lot of weight and got stronger. How did that change your game?
“It changed my game a lot just because my junior year I still put up big numbers, but I was getting double-teamed and guys were grabbing me so I had a hard time getting the ball back once I got rid of it. That was a problem — once I got rid of it I couldn’t get it back. So after the time in the weight room I was able to fight off defenders and get the ball back and just kind of use my body more on defenders when I went to the lane. Before, I would get knocked over on my butt but now I was able to withstand the contact and finish more buckets around the rim. And it really helped my defense a lot, too, being able to body guys. So it definitely helped my game a lot, for sure.”
What went into the decision to play out east?
“My brother, he’s at Brown right now. After my senior year, I didn’t get any of the looks I wanted or thought I deserved. Brown was recruiting me pretty heavily, but the Brown coaches told me I couldn’t go to their school because my ACT score was a point short. So they recommended me to this prep school and they talked to my coach, (Northfield Mount Hermon) Coach Carroll. He looked me up on YouTube, saw some highlights, then just hit me up and I decided to come out here for this fall.”
Did you know you would be going out east when you took that summer off?
“No no no. I had no idea. To be honest, besides Mitch going there, I had never really heard of prep school. Not many kids do it in the Midwest. You know who’s in my conference, Glenn Robinson and all them, and I got MVP of my conference and I thought I had a pretty good season. Coach Carroll was talking to me in the middle of my season and I was saying, I’m not trying to go to prep school, I’m about to pick up some offers, I’m having a really good season. But for some reason — at 5-11, 160, still not the quickest or most athletic person — people still didn’t think I could play at that level. I didn’t get the looks I wanted, but I still wanted to play Division I basketball, so I came out here, and it went well.”
What was it like going from Crown Point, where you were kind of the do-everything star, to NMH, where you were more of a facilitator?
“I loved that. I love passing more than anything and getting the ball to guys with knockdown shots makes the game so much easier. There was still a point (at NMH) where I was a little too passive and I was deferring too much. At the end of the season was when I really started scoring. If I can find a balance between scoring and making plays for my teammates, that’s when I’m at my best. It took me a little while to find that. It’s just, I’m not used to playing with that many good players on my team, you know? I went from high school ball, where you only have a couple guys who can play in college, to having ten guys who are going to play Division I basketball. It was crazy.”