New class of 2014 forward targets emerging

Dylan Burkhardt

August 3, 2013: adidas Nations as Next Level Sports Complex in Garden Grove, CA.Michigan’s guard and wing priorities are clear with Devin Booker, Trevon Bluiett and Kameron Chatman. All three players are offered, priority recruits that are expected to take official visits to Michigan this fall and the Wolverines are in the thick of the race for each prospect.

But with Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary’s likely departures to the NBA after the coming season, Michigan clearly feels the need to add a combo forward to the mix. Kevon Looney is out and Vince Edwards seems more likely to end up at Purdue every day. As intriguing as Chatman is as a prospect, he’s probably too skinny to be a full time four man.

Here are five combo forwards that broke onto the Michigan recruiting radar after the July evaluation period with video and notes. (Photo: Kelly Kline/Adidas)

Jonah Bolden
6-foot-8 – Sydney, Australia – Findlay Prep

Bolden exploded at Adidas Nations over the weekend and appears to be a perfect fit for the combo forward position in Ann Arbor. Bolden is long, can defend the interior, finish at the rim and step out and knock down the perimeter shot. Raised in Sydney, Australia, Bolden will be attending Findlay Prep next season along with fellow Michigan target Derryck Thornton Jr. and a host of other talented prospects. His dad is from Flint, Michigan and played basketball at Boise State.

He told ($) that he’s always watched the Wolverines and likes the way that his position plays in that system. But the 6-foot-8 combo forward told 247Sports that he’s in no hurry to make a decision and the only school he’s aware of recruiting him right now is Arizona.

Bolden will be highly, highly recruited once he begins playing in the United States. Schools are already pursuing Bolden, but he has been uninvolved in his recruitment to this point with his father handling all the dialogue with coaches.

Bolden told 247Sports that the only school that he was aware of recruiting him is Arizona.

Expect Michigan to jump head first into Bolden’s recruitment after his big weekend at Adidas Nations.

Josh Cunningham
6-foot-7, 190 lbs – Morgan Park, Ill. – Mac Irvin Fire -148th composite

Michigan has been keeping tabs on Cunningham, who we profiled last week. Cunningham is a good athlete with a host of major offers from Northwestern, Dayton, Bradley, DePaul, Missouri, St. Johns, Oklahoma, Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska and Creighton.

Despite a three-star consensus rank from 247Sports, Cunningham actually is rated as a 4-star prospect by the three major scouting services – Scout, ESPN and Rivals. While Cunningham’s AAU team is loaded with star power – top big men Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander along with rising star point guard Jalen Brunson – Cunningham used the opportunity to play in front of big name coaches to make a name for himself.

Donte Grantham
6-foot-8, 200lbs – Martinsburg, WV – Hargrave Academy- DC Assault – 117th composite

Grantham is attending Hargave Military Academy next season despite being a full qualifier, mainly to boost his recruiting stock. Grantham has 11 high-major offers, most recently adding offers from UConn, VCU, DePaul and Texas.

Grantham was impressive at the Reebok Breakout Challenge early in July.

Grantham is a 6-8 face up four-man that loves to take his man away from the basket. He has the ability to not only shoot a 3-pointer, but also can put the ball on the floor and make plays off the dribble. He is always very physical in the low post and can block shots. He can really run the floor and finishes everything in transition with ferocious dunks. The only criticism I have with Grantham’s game is that he spends a lot of time on the perimeter and not enough in the low post, where he can be very effective.

Clemson, Miami, Texas, Virginia and Cincinnati were among the schools recruiting him the hardest at the start of July while Michigan will try to secure a visit late in the process.

Devin Robinson
6-foot-8, 170lbs – Churchview, VA – Christchurch School – Richmond Squires– 41st composite

Robinson is a top-50 forward with major interest from across the country. Notable suitors include Indiana, Georgetown, Virginia Tech, VCU, Duke, North Carolina. Michigan has inquired and is hoping to get Robinson on campus for visit this fall. Robinson tweeted that he plans to cut his list “very soon”.

Robinson, like many of the best modern day combo forwards, grew from a 6-foot-1 guard to a 6-foot-8 wing over the last several years and his recruitment has exploded. Rivals rates Robinson in the top-25 nationally and was particularly impressed at the LeBron James Skills Academy:

During the spring and early summer, 6-foot-8 small forward Devin Robinson out of Christchurch (Va.) High was the talk of the grassroots circuit. He made a meteoric rise from No. 106 to No. 24 in the 2014 Rivals150 and the way things look he might not be done climbing.

At the recent NBPA Top 100 Camp the five-star swingman showed flashes of what he’s capable of. At LeBron, he’s gotten used to playing against lots of high level competition and has looked really comfortable and at times dominant.

Long and lanky, Robinson is armed with a smooth jumper that he can make with ease from deep, and he’s a very fluid athlete. Around the rim he’s been quite explosive and has started to show what he’s capable of doing off the dribble.

Michigan will have its hands full to try to secure a visit but Robinson clearly fits the bill for what the Wolverines are looking for at the four spot.

DJ Wilson
6-foot-8, 200lbs – Sacramento, CA – Capital Christian School – Team Superstar – 173rd composite

Wilson is another west coast prospect that the Wolverines watched in July. USC, Nevada, Colorado, Cal and Boise State are some of his top schools at this juncture. Wilson grew about three inches in the last year and missed a significant amount of time due to a handful of injuries throughout the spring. He was impressive in Vegas and also at the Summer Jam in Milwaukee:

6’8” Cali Superstars forward put his long, athletic body on display over the weekend. Has a knack for doing a lot of things on the court and being very efficient. Wilson rebounds the ball well, handles, looks to get contact in the paint, and shows a nice touch with his left. Uses his length to his advantage on defense as well. At this point Wilson just needs to work on bulking up a bit, and getting a little more consistent mechanically with his shot.

  • FL Wolve

    All of the kids on the list appear to be pretty good players.

    It’s hard to believe that JB has only recruited 1 true stretch 4 during his time here and he transferred (Smote).

  • mattD

    Jonah Bolden – very nice looking prospect, his game favors LaMarcus Aldridge with court vision.
    Cunningham – the more film I see the more intrigued I become with adding him to the 14 class. Viewing the clips above it seems he plays a more physical brand of basketball in comparison to GR3 at the same age. Also, it doesn’t seem that he doesn’t have the ability to handle the ball/create his own shot, but Brunson just dominates the ball so much that it becomes a challenge for Cunningham to showcase his talents in isolation situations.

    • Northern Blue

      I like Cunningham a lot to from that highlight tape. Not every player has to be able to create for themselves. If Cunningham could play the role that GR3 played this year, with a little less athleticism, but better shooting I think he would be a great pick up. I still like the idea of having guys like GR3, and then in the future, having Cunningham and the Chatman’s to play the 4, rather than guys like Jordan Morgan playing the 4. Although I love jordan I think he is best suited to the 5 spot in Beileins offence. I love the 4 out 1 in style with lots of ball screens and shooters on the outside. Openned up cutting lanes for a guy like GR3 and open shots behind the 3 point line in the corners. It is getting guys that are skilled and can rebound and defend a little bit better than their size – these are reports a guy like Chatman is getting.

  • Kp

    Coach B just doesn’t like Jaylen Johnson I’m guessing

    • geoffclarke

      I don’t think that’s a good assumption. It’s very possible – though I have NO clue – that Beilein DOES like Johnson, thinks he’s a good kid, a good player, etc., but that he doesn’t necessarily fit the team needs/composition. If the latter part is true (not fitting needs), I happen to agree with that. If it were a different year or we didn’t already have Doyle, we may be recruiting him hard. Who knows…if all the better fits slip away, we may step up the heat on Johnson.

    • TKWolverine

      Sam Webb says that things are really heating up with Jaylen Johnson and that he will be visiting UM this week. He also went out of his way to mention this on WTKA this morning.

  • GregGoBlue

    This staff has proven its ability both to identify top notch under-the-radar prospects early, as well as those that blossom a bit later. This new crop of 2014 F’s speaks nicely to the latter. Very impressed with a lot of these HS players’ film.

  • jblair52

    I feel a lot better about our forward spot after seeing these prospects…not sure about everyone else but I was feeling like it was Chatman or bust before. These guys look like great options. I’m sure we’re a little late on a couple of them but I like what they all bring.

    Wilson – looks long and has a good vertical. 20-25 lbs and he’s a beast IMO

    Cunningham – looks aggressive and athletic

    Bolden – looks the most like a “guard”…not sure how he’d handle the post but I like his game

  • Wayman Britt

    These forwards are good players, but UM will be taking a hit in recruiting for the 2014 class if we don’t get Booker. If you want to remain a national top ten team, you need to get one superstar, but I like our chances.

    • geoffclarke

      Personally i think Bolden can be a star at the 4 for Michigan. I think it’s going to be really hard for Michigan to maintain in 2014 if we lose McGary and Robinson as expected. I think our chances significantly increase if we get Booker and Bolden, but at the same time, no matter who we get, I don’t think our floor is very low, either. We’ll have some stars (I believe) at the 1, 2, and 3, and some solid players at the 4 and 5 regardless.

  • CCC

    man, bolden looks nice. looks a lot like looney, could fill the role kevon would’ve played.

  • ecm

    Bolden looks the best of the bunch by far: unselfish to pass to the best shot, can make that pass, he not only shoots well but can catch-n-shoot off screens at speed and use balls screens. None of these guys look like good rebounders but Bolden knows what to do with the quick outlet once he comes down with it. Highly skilled + high IQ.