Point Guard Recruiting: Where Things Stand

Dylan Burkhardt
on

Michigan has Tyus Battle, Jon Teske and Austin Davis in the fold in the class of 2016, but John Beilein is still searching for his point guard of the future. Derrick Walton will be a senior when the class of 2016 arrives and Beilein has always preferred to overlap his lead guards by a class.

Michigan’s remaining focus in the class of 2016 is likely to shift to the point guard position, although some top prospects like Josh Langford should remain as priority targets, here’s a rundown of the major point targets on Michigan’s board, what they bring to the table and where things stand.

Cassius Winston (Offer, 6-foot, No. 24)

Winston has been the top point guard target on Michigan’s recruiting board for several months now. He’s emerged as arguably the top point guard in the Midwest and is No. 3 in the Nike EYBL in scoring at 21.3 points per game.

Winston visited Ann Arbor for yet another unofficial visit on Thursday and at this point he has to be close to double-digit visits to both Michigan and Michigan State for various camps, unofficials and games. Other than Michigan and Michigan State, schools like Marquette, Iowa State, Ohio State, Harvard and Stanford are involved.

He broke his wrist and will miss 6-8 weeks, but by that time frame he could still be back in time for Peach Jam in July. He has been very careful not to name a timeline or any leaders in his recruitment, but has been pretty adamant that he wants to take official visits before he makes a decision. Could that plan change? Of course, but it would be a surprise at this point.

Quentin Goodin (Offer, 6-foot-3, No.76)

If you wanted to compare Goodin to a previous Beilein point guard, the easy answer would be Darius Morris. Goodin is a big physical guard that can use his size and strength to score and pass from the lead guard spot.  His length and athleticism is a luxury on the defensive end, and would be a lethal combination with Tyus Battle in the backcourt, and he also has the size to easily pass over ball screens.

Goodin, a Kentucky native, has Louisville and Florida offers with Butler, Xavier, Michigan, Ohio State and Miami among the schools most involved. He has visited Indiana, Butler, Xavier, Michigan and Ohio State.

Kevin Huerter (6-foot-5)

Is Huerter a true point guard? Probably not. But he might be the sort of player that you could add to the roster to bridge the gap at the point guard position while adding valuable passing ability to the backcourt in any combination. Simply put, Huerter is a guy that makes everyone else on the floor better. Prep school is a possibility for Huerter as Syracuse offered him as a class of 2017 prospect and other schools have discussed redshirting as a possibility. A move to 2017 benefits Syracuse because of its scholarship sanctions, but could also work for Michigan as well with its limited scholarship numbers.

Michigan has had an in-school visit and the next step is getting Huerter on campus. Syracuse, Notre Dame, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Michigan, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Davidson are some of the other schools involved.

Bruce Brown (6-foot-4, No. 46)

Brown has been one of the top performers on the AAU circuit this spring and reported that Michigan wants him as a point guard — an important distinction with Battle in the fold. He’s similar in his influence of the game to someone like Russell Westbrook with his ability to control the ball, attack the basket and grab rebounds in the lane. Brown discussed a potential visit to Ann Arbor, but nothing formal was set up at the time. Texas, UNLV, Arizona, Michigan, Indiana and SMU are some of the schools recruiting Brown the hardest.

Jamal Murray (6-foot-5, No. 57)

Murray is an interesting case as the Canadian combo guard has discussed possibly graduating early and joining the 2015 class. But he has another option that hasn’t been brought up nearly as often: He could stay in school this season and then enter the NBA Draft straight from high school as an international prospect. Michigan has been involved in Murray’s recruitment for quite some time — and is one of the few schools that he’s visited, an unofficial for a game two years ago — but Kentucky and Oregon are considered major players in his recruitment.

Murray is planning to take visits over the coming weeks, but he’s keeping things close to the vest.

“We’re taking a couple visits, I’m not sure the date yet or exactly how we’re going to do it but we’ll be taking some visits for sure,” his father told Zags Blog.

Asked which schools would get visits, he added, “No, I’m not going to say for now. We try and stay away from the whole hoopla of it. We could be taking a visit and don’t really put it out [in the media], just try to continue what we’re doing.”

Bryce Aiken (5-foot-10, No. 105)

Aiken has the reputation of a shoot-first point guard, but he was impressive in Lexington during the second session of the Nike EYBL. John Beilein was in attendance for the game I watched, where Aiken routinely got into the lane to draw contact and get to the free throw line. He has a mature offensive game and is capable of shooting off of ball screens, but his size could be a concern. Aiken discussed a potential visit to Illinois and was recently offered by Butler, but was also very intrigued by Michigan’s pitch.

Aiken plays with the same AAU program as Tyus Battle, so the Michigan coaching staff should have an opportunity to evaluate Aiken as they track Battle this July — once Battle returns from injury.

CJ Walker (6-foot, No. 152)

Walker emerged as a Michigan target this April as the Wolverines scouted him on the Nike EYBL circuit. The 6-foot guard decommitted from Purdue in March and has added offers from Butler, Penn State, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas State and Florida State since. He’s expected to visit Michigan in June and has been vocal about wanting an offer.

“It was really exciting to hear from coach Beilein,” Walker told MLive. “I mean, he’s one of the best coaches out there. That’s exciting. Getting an offer from Michigan would really mean a lot to me. I feel like I could be the next Trey Burke or something in that area. I feel like I could go there and be something special and really do something for that program.”

Devearl Ramsey (5-foot-11, No. 85)

Ramsey has discussed a potential Michigan visit for much of the last year, but the trip across the country from California has yet to be rescheduled after his previous visit was canceled due to an ankle injury. He’s a bit of a different mold of lead guard than Michigan’s other targets as he’s known most for his hawking on-ball defense and quickness.

Ramsey’s current school list includes N.C. State, Michigan, USC, California, Florida State, Texas, Washington and Arizona State.

  • David Remmler

    My order of preference:

    #1. Cassius Winston
    #2. Bruce Brown
    #3. Quentin Goodin
    #4. Jamal Murray
    #5. Devearl Ramsey
    #6. CJ Walker
    #7. Bryce Aiken

    That being said, anybody below #4 would be a disappointment from a recruiting standpoint. I would really prefer to avoid an undersized PG like Aiken. I would think we would have a great shot at one of our top 3 after landing Battle. An elite PG would be the cherry on top of an awesome class.

    • winners choice

      Obvious, it would a disappointment to you if we don’t sign a player on par with your standards. I suppose, that you haven’t even seen these young men in person and yet you determined that some of them would be disapointments? It never fails. People did the same thing with Austin Davis. Whoever we sign is good enough to play here. Especially, if our staff offered them. Do you remember a kid named SPIKE ? DO you rememeber Zach Novak, Stu Douglass and Jordan Morgan???!! RANKINGS means nothing. I would be happy if any one of these players come to this university. None of them are a “disappointment”

      • David Remmler

        Hey, chill out. You’re taking things way too seriously.

        Attacking legitimate opinions on recruiting targets is way out of line. It would make just as much sense to attack Beilein for his recruiting and personnel decisions which reflect a preference for one player over another. Don’t you think he’s disappointed when he doesn’t land a kid he offers?

        As for rankings, of course they matter. And I loved watching Zach, Stu, etc. play but there’s a reason we didn’t reach a Final Four with them instead of a more talented roster.

        And while I might be disappointed when missing out on a certain recruit, I am always happy to welcome and root for another player once they come here – as long as they are have a good character, work hard and play by the rules.

        My biggest disappointment with Michigan basketball recently? That I won’t see as much of Austin Hatch. I would much rather have a couple more minutes of Hatch on court than a zillion Jaylen Browns or other highly ranked recruits.

        • section13row15

          Yeah but watching Stu do that 2-handed dunk against Tennessee in the first round was pretty amazing.

          • David Remmler

            Yeah, I really loved Stu. Along with Zach, he was such a hard worker and competitor. It’s often more enjoyable to watch players like that than a superstar.

        • Barth Applefeld

          Yes, you are right on almost all counts except I disagree with your use of the term “disappointment” even though you state it is from a “recruitment perspective.” This is measured language, but still associating such a word with very young people is jarring, frustrating, and even offensive, to some of us. Most often people use language such as “any player lower than no. 4” will probably need to develop quickly to become a big ten starter. Again, this is all language, but then everything is on a blog.

      • MAZS

        You are arguing a straw man. No one is saying rankings are the be-all and end-all, but your conclusion that “RANKINGS mean nothing” is utter nonsense. Rankings are not an abstract compilation of some lonely guy in his basement, but are adjusted up and down based on a number of factors including the interest level shown them by major college programs. Some players are missed and some over-rated. But its a rare 5* who is a bust and a rare 2* who becomes a lottery pick. The rankings are a tool–mostly for people like us and not coaches. Frankly, some of the guys Beilein brought in his early years–like Novak, Douglas and Morgan–might not get offers from us today. Spike only got a last minute offer because we had one sitting around. And I like those guys as much as you do.

        That was quite a rant.

      • section13row15

        Very true.

    • Anonymous

      Winston reminds me of Walton but actually more adept at scoring around the basket but with a flawed perimeter game that will need lots of work. He is going to get that shot blocked on a regular basis in college. Slow and low release. Looks like Irvin but a half foot shorter.

  • winners choice

    Watching that video of Winston, I noticed that Brailien Neely was shooting some horrible shots. He was missing badly . Lol. Personally I believe that anyone of these kids would be a good get. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that ANY AREN’T good enough. They all have nice offers and we are known as point guard developers. Obviously we haven’t the kids play out side of videos and the coaches have seen them in person. No need to judge a kid by film. I have on seen Winston play and he indeed would be a good pick up.

  • Slim33

    I like Bruce Brown from that group the most. Don’t let the rankings fool you, CJ Walker can ball and would not be a disappointment. Huerter reminds me of Stauskas a little, kid is silky smooth and I could see him runnin the high ball screen like Nik did. I like all 8 of these prospects, will be interesting to see who we get.

    • section13row15

      Totally agree w/ u slim. Brown has a bounce in his step that nobody else had. Walker would be my second choice too.

  • bobohle

    I would hope for Winston being in state and would be a steal from Sparty, but would be extremely happy with Goodin,Brown or Murray because of their height. All 4 are excellent targets and would be a great compliment to T. Battle.

  • UMTigersWingsLions

    Winston would be awesome to get…top 25 player. Maybe he comes now that Battle has?

  • IG:Troy_Rob

    After watching that Nike hoops summit game, I believe Murray might be the best prospect out of the group. The question to that is can he be a true PG. I would take him based on upside he looks to be the real deal

  • Frank Chuck

    It would be ideal to have a PG that plays 3-4 years in a Michigan uniform. Most Final Four and National Championship caliber teams have an upperclassmen lead guard. There are exceptions like 2001 Duke, 2013 Michigan, and 2014 Kentucky but they are rare. It takes experienced and talented guards to go far in the NCAAT.

    • David Remmler

      I agree. While I might prefer a higher ranked player, it might be actually be best to have a PG who stays longer and provides stability to the team. As you point out, a good junior or senior PG can be the seasoned leader who gets you to the top. Under Beilein, any of the PG’s we’re recruiting may fit the bill if they have some talent and are coachable.

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  • Nick

    I still don’t understand the logistics of how this will work. Would a verbal commitment be contingent upon early attrition? What player would want this uncertainty? How can coaching staff guarantee a spot?

    • winners choice

      I think someone would reclassify, transfer or red shirt.

      • zeroskie

        There is also the possibility that Austin Davis reclassifies to 2017

      • bobohle

        I don’t think a red shirt frees up a scholarship. Correct me if I’m wrong on that. The other options would have to happen.

  • winners choice

    Call me crazy all you want but if Josh LAngford wants to come here… we should take him. Wasn’t him and Battle considering going to the same school? They both can play point guard but LANgford definitely can… the both can handle and that backcourt to our Kevin Gaines and Jamal Crawford back court …. they would both be interchangeable.

    • zeroskie

      It was Derryck Thorton that was talked about as a package deal with Battle. But yeah I agree if Langford wants to come here, I don’t think any fans or staff would have any objections.

  • Swans

    Have we actually offered Huerter or Brown? I dont think we have and ESPN is jumping the gun right?

    http://espn.go.com/colleges/basketball/recruiting/school/_/id/130/class/2016/page/offers

    • UMHoopsFan

      I don’t think either has visited, so that means no UM offers. I believe sometimes the staff says “there’s an offer waiting in A2 if you come to visit,” which could be interpreted by a site as an “offer.” But I am not sure even that’s the case, particularly with Huerter.