|I recently had the pleasure to talk with Zak Irvin, one of the crown jewels of Michigan’s 2013 recruiting class, about the season that just ended, what his plans are for this summer, a little bit of Twitter fun with an old teammate, and much more.
Irvin was recently selected as Indiana’s Mr. Basketball award recipient, becoming the first ever Michigan signee to win the highly-coveted award. He follows last year’s Indiana Mr. Basketball winner, Gary Harris, to the state of Michigan and to the Big Ten, but looks to be his rival on the court next year should Harris return to East Lansing. Here is what Zak had to say:
Maize & Go Blue: First things first. Obviously Michigan’s season just ended in the National Championship game on Monday, but give me your thoughts on the year they had?
Zak Irvin: You know, I thought they had a great year, had a great start and ended up being the (second-to) last team left. When they got a four-seed, a lot of people didn’t think they’d go as far as they did, but they made a nice run. Overall they had a great season.
M&GB: Do you think the team’s success this season adds any pressure for you guys coming in next year?
Irvin: You know, I think it does. Them going to the national championship puts a target on our back, but I think we’ll be ready and we’ll play great together next year.
M&GB: You were in Atlanta last weekend along with Derrick Walton for a high school three-point contest. How did things go there?
Irvin: I definitely had a lot of fun, especially with Derrick as my roommate and who will be my teammate next year. There were a lot of great shooters there and we all had a great time. (Neither Zak nor Derrick won the contest, however.)
M&GB: Did you and Derrick talk about next season at all or meet up with Mark Donnal?
Irvin: No, I didn’t see Mark, but me and Derrick are always talking about next year together.
M&GB: Were you able to stay down in Atlanta for the Final Four games?
Irvin: No, I came home Saturday morning.
M&GB: Have you seen Austin Hatch at all recently?
Irvin: The last time I saw him was at the Michigan-IU game. It was great to see him cause I don’t get to see him that often, but we are real close with each other.
M&GB: A few players on this year’s team, notably Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Glenn Robinson III, and Mitch McGary, and other Big Ten teams, including your former teammate Gary Harris, have big decisions to make regarding their future careers. How do their decisions impact you and next year’s team?
Irvin: Just from playing with Gary three years in high school it definitely impacts me a lot, he really helped me to improve as a basketball player. Just watching Trey, Tim, and Mitch I just see myself, envision myself like them. I watch them and I’m just going to play hard and be the best that I can.
M&GB: Your own season ended with an early exit in the Indiana state playoffs to North Central, but how did you feel you played as a team and individually?
Irvin: As a team, we had a great regular season, finishing 17-4 when a lot of people didn’t expect that because Gary left. For myself, I received the Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year and Mr. Basketball awards so I thought I had a great year.
M&GB: What were your final numbers on the season?
Irvin: I averaged 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists per game.
M&GB: You mentioned that you won Indiana’s Mr. Basketball award last week. Over the last seven years, the winners of Indiana’s Mr. Basketball award have been Greg Oden, Eric Gordon, Tyler Zeller, Jordan Hulls, Deshaun Thomas, Cody Zeller, and Gary Harris. What does it feel like to be in the company of such great college and NBA players?
Irvin: It’s an honor just to have my name in the same category as those players. I’ve been blessed that all the hard work I’ve put in is paying off.
M&GB: When will you be moving up to Ann Arbor for summer classes and summer ball?
Irvin: I have to be in Ann Arbor on June 22.
M&GB: Do you have any plans as to what you want to study at Michigan yet?
Irvin: I want to study something with business, so I think maybe Sports Management.
M&GB: Have any of the Michigan coaches been in contact with you since Monday?
Irvin: No, I haven’t talked to any of them since then.
M&GB: What have the Michigan coaches told you to work on individually this summer as you prepare for college basketball?
Irvin: Definitely getting stronger because Big Ten basketball is so physical, so that’s a key thing I’m working on, just getting stronger in the weight room, and I’m always working on ball handling and shooting.
M&GB: What would you consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of your game right now?
Irvin: I’d say my biggest strength is being able to mix it up, I can shoot a jump shot or take it to the hole. My weakness was getting down when a game is not going well, but my senior year I really worked on keeping a level head no matter what and really improved that my senior year.
M&GB: Lastly, what played the biggest factor in your commitment back in 2011 to play at Michigan?
Irvin: The coaching staff. The first time I stepped on campus the coaches made it known that I was a priority at the University of Michigan and I just have a great relationship with all the coaches there.
M&GB: Can you tell us about that picture of Gary Harris that surfaced on twitter of him wearing a Maize Rage t-shirt?
Irvin: (Laughs) As a matter of fact I was just talking with him about that a couple hours ago but that was from last year. When Michigan played Michigan State we had a bet that whichever team won, the loser had to wear that team’s shirt to school the next day, and Michigan won so Gary had to wear a Michigan t-shirt all the next day.
Archive for the ‘Recruiting’ Category
For a college basketball coach, recruiting is a non-stop job duty, the lifeblood of each team. As we continue to develop our college basketball coverage here at Maize and Go Blue, we are going to look to include recruiting as often as possible. When we analyze recruiting, we hope to not only give you an idea of the future of Michigan basketball, but also provide scouting reports on up-and-coming high school talent of today as we constantly wrestle with the questions of who is worth the hype and who is worthy of a coveted offer.
Our first scouting report, then, comes on 2014 guard/forward A.J. Turner out of De La Salle High in Warren Mich. I caught him in the championship game of last week’s holiday tournament in Grand Rapids going up against Grand Rapids Catholic Central. Turner reportedly struggled a little bit the previous night with John Beilein in the house, only managing about seven points in an easy 60-51 win over Lowell, but he came back with a strong performance on Friday to claim tournament MVP honors after leading his team to a 49-36 victory in the finals. Here is a look at Turner’s strengths and weaknesses in the game I attended:
Strengths: The first thing that jumps out about Turner is his body type. While listed around 6’7″ in some places, he looks closer to 6’5″ with a couple inches of hair on top, but his long arms and lanky frame ooze potential. Turner is probably the tallest and most athletic guy on the Pilots roster, but he brings the ball up the court every time like a point guard even though he projects to be a wing at the next level. He easily won the jump ball to start the game off and helped lead his team to a quick 14-3 first quarter advantage despite a poor shooting start that saw him make only one of his seven first half attempts (1-of-3 3-pt.). Turner’s shooting stroke from deep is very smooth, and his release point and rotation are fine. He also showcased some nice court vision with a few longer passes and recorded three assists in the first half to go along with one rebound and a monster rejection.
With a comfortable 25-15 halftime lead filled with very slow play, De La Salle was well on its way to winning the game, but Turner finally flashed some of his scoring potential in the third quarter to help stretch the lead. In those eight minutes, Turner made five of six field goals for 10 points and grabbed two rebounds while turning the ball over once. His makes came in a variety of ways, including a very nice mid-range turn-around fade away that hit nothing but nylon and a couple nice give-and-go finishes at the basket. Turner also showed off his sneaky athleticism with a monster breakaway dunk. The ease with which he rose up and threw down the one-handed slam was quite impressive, and even though he didn’t particularly stand out for his hops, he certainly has some spring when needed.
In the fourth quarter Turner was a little more aggressive on offense, drawing five free throws, and he made his one and only attempt from the floor (another dunk) to finish the game with 15 points (7-of-14 FG, 1-of-3 3-pt.), four rebounds, three assists, four turnovers, and two blocks.
Weaknesses: There were a couple things that I wanted to see a little more of out of the skinny junior prospect. First off, it was clear that Turner was the best athlete on the floor, but he was rarely aggressive with the ball in his hands despite this advantage. I thought he showed a little bit of a lack of urgency when bringing the ball up court and rarely blew by his man early on to create quick, easy buckets for himself or for teammates. Overall his ball-handling was fine, but he certainly could work on it a bit. He dribbles a little high at times and seemed to struggle to get past pressure one-on-one defense while bringing it up, partially due to an apparent lack of proficiency with his left hand. I was happy to see him look for his shot in the third quarter after settling for a few threes in the first half, but I still think he’s a guy that should be shooting 20 times a game right now. The four turnovers he coughed up need to go down a bit as well and, like most high school players, he could add some good weight to his frame.
Lastly, Turner needs to work on his free throw shooting. He went 0-of-5 from the line on Friday night, and even though his stroke looked fine and a couple just rimmed out, he seemed to let his misses get to his head. I know he can be a good free throw shooter based off other video, but he needs to consistently knock down the freebies, especially if he is to become a more aggressive driver.
Outlook: Right now John Beilein has two offers on the table for the class of 2014, one to Mississippi guard Devin Booker and another to Indiana wing Trevon Blueitt. I expect Michigan to continue to evaluate Turner’s game as a potential secondary option for the class, and if things don’t work out for either Booker or Blueitt, Turner could be a prime candidate for an offer if he continues to improve. If he does get that offer, things look good for Michigan.
Now that Michigan’s season has drawn to a close, the second season has ramped up to full steam. Recruiting is pretty much non-stop these days, but now that the coaching staff is able to devote the vast majority of its time to pulling in the best class possible, it’s a frantic race for the Feb. 6 finish line. That’s the day of National Signing Day, when all letters of intent have to be signed and submitted and become binding. But before we get there, several All-American games exist to showcase the top talent on the national stage. Some of the players are already committed, while some choose to make their announcements live on national television during the game. Still others opt to wait until National Signing Day to pledge their commitments. Here’s a look at the games and the current Michigan commitments that will be playing in them, as well as the targets that Brady Hoke’s staff hopes to lock in within the next month.
Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 | 5pm EST
Under Armour All-America Game | St. Petersburg, Fla. | ESPN
The Under Armour All-America Game is ESPN’s version and features the Black (Highlight) team and the White (Nitro) team. Team Highlight is coached by former NFL head coach Herm Edwards, while Team Nitro is coached by Steve Mariucci.
Current Michigan commits:
#9 – LB – Mike McCray II (White)
#12 – QB – Shane Morris (White)
#17 – DT – Henry Poggi (White)*
#55 – OG – David Dawson (White)*
#57 – OG – Patrick Kugler (White)*
#72 – OT – Logan Tulley-Tillman (White)
#22 – S – Leon McQuay III (Black)
#1 – WR – Sebastian LaRue (White)
#4 – WR – Laquon Treadwell (White)
#78 – OT – Cameron Hunt (White)
#3 – WR – Alvin Bailey (Black) – Former Michigan target, committed to Florida
#32 – RB – Ty Isaac (White) – Former Michigan target, USC commit
#6 – CB – Cam Burrows (White) – Ohio State commit
#7 – ATH – Jalin Marshall (White) – Ohio State commit
#7 – CB – Gareon Conley (White) – Ohio State commit, former Michigan commit
#8 – TE – Marcus Baugh (White) – Ohio State commit
#97 – DT – Joey Bosa (White) – Ohio State commit
#34 – LB – Alex Anzalone (Black) – Notre Dame commit, former Ohio State commit
#60 – OT – Colin McGovern (Black) – Notre Dame commit
#70 – OT – Hunter Bivin (Black) – Notre Dame commit
#32 – LB – Trey Johnson (White) – Announcing commitment to either Ohio State, Florida, or Tennessee
As you can see, Team Nitro (White) has the majority of the players relevant to Michigan, so that’s the team to pay the most attention to. Of the uncommitted targets, Michigan isn’t in great position for any of them. McQuay was at the Wolverines’ Outback Bowl practice, but had this to say about where Michigan stands. He will make his decision known during the game. LaRue is an interesting one since he was committed to USC, but just decommitted. He reportedly wants to hear more from Michigan and has formed a bond with current Michigan commit Mike McCray. Hunt, a Cal commit, recently announced that he’s re-opening his recruitment and was offered by Michigan, but that was before David Dawson re-committed to the Wolverines, so it’s unclear as to whether the staff would take another offensive lineman. Treadwell seems extremely unlikely at this point. He favors Ole Miss, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, but with recruiting, you never know.
Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 | 9pm EST
Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl | Carson, Ca. | NFL Network
Current Michigan commits:
CB – Ross Douglass (East)
DT – Maurice Hurst, Jr. (East)
* Kyle Bosch and Taco Charlton chose not to play due to enrolling early at Michigan
DB – Devin Butler (East) – Notre Dame
WR – William Fuller (East) – Notre Dame
OT – Mike McGlinchey (East) – Notre Dame
QB – Malik Zaire (East) – Notre Dame
CB – Cole Luke (West) – Notre Dame
RB – Khalfani Muhammad (West) – Notre Dame
Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 | 1pm EST
U.S. Army All-American Bowl | San Antonio, Texas | NBC
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is traditionally considered the nation’s premier high school all-star game and is in its 13th year. It has featured eventual Heisman Trophy winners and more than 200 eventual NFL players. This year, the West team will wear yellow and the East team will wear black.
Current Michigan commits:
#87 – TE – Jake Butt (East)
#73 – OL – Chris Fox (West)
#27 – DB – Jourdan Lewis (West)
#14 – DB – Dymonte Thomas (East)
#27 – RB – Derrick Green (East)
#5 – DB – Kendall Fuller – Former Michigan target, Virginia Tech commit
#10 – LB – E.J. Levenberry – Former Michigan target, Florida State commit
#21 – S – Su’a Cravens – Former Michigan target, USC commit
#24 – RB – Ezekiel Elliott – Ohio State commit
#9 – CB – Eli Apple (East) – Ohio State commit
#35 – K – Johnny Townsend (East) – Ohio State commit
#69 – OT – Evan Lisle (East) – Ohio State commit
#76 – DT – Michael Hill (East) – Ohio State commit
#72 – OT – Steve Elmer (West) – Notre Dame commit
#1 – RB – Greg Bryant (East) – Notre Dame commit
#74 – OL – John Montelus (East) – Notre Dame commit
#26 – LB – Doug Randolph (East) – Notre Dame commit
#88 – WR – Corey Robinson (West) – Notre Dame commit
#9 – LB – Jaylon Smith (West) – Notre Dame commit
#44 – LB – Mike Mitchell (West) – Announcing commitment to either Ohio State, Oregon, or Texas A&M
#17 – WR – James Quick (East) – Announcing commitment to either Ohio State or Louisville
Unlike the Under Armour game, Michigan’s four commits playing in this one are split between the two teams. Derrick Green is the big one to watch since he is reportedly leaning towards Michigan. He fueled speculation on Wednesday by posing for a photo with the four Michigan commits and then went on a Rivals chat and said Michigan does hold a slight lead. Ohio State and Notre Dame both have a number of commits playing in the game as well, and there are a couple that are making their announcements live during the game and have Ohio State among their finalists.
Another thing you may notice is the complete lack of Michigan State prospects on the rosters for these three games. Of the Spartans’ 15 current commits, only two are rated four stars by Rivals and the rest are three stars.
Michigan had a great recruiting weekend by picking up eight commitments on Saturday and Sunday, but we’re still not done talking about this year’s recruiting class. You know, the players who will be suiting up for the Wolverines this fall, some of which will see the field come September. We’ve already profiled the offensive line, the running backs, the receivers and tight ends, the defensive line, and the linebackers. Today, we culminate our recruiting profiles with the final position group – the secondary. Two of them are consensus four-stars and the other two consensus three-stars. They have an average position rating of 38. Let’s take a look.
In the last couple of weeks, we have profiled the offensive line, the running backs, the receivers and tight ends, and the defensive line. Today, we continue looking at the defensive recruits with the linebackers. Michigan hauled in a very impressive linebacker class with four talented playmakers, any of which could potentially see the field as true a freshman. Two enrolled early and will partake in spring practice, giving them a leg up on the others come fall. The group has an average star ranking of 3.75 – three of which are consensus four-stars and Ringer is a three-star. They also have an average position ranking of 12. Let’s take a closer look.
On Monday, we rounded out the offensive profiles with the receivers and tight ends, and last week we looked at the offensive line and the running backs. Today, it’s time to turn our focus towards the defensive side of the ball – the guys who will help Michigan’s defensive resurgence under the guidance of Greg Mattison.
This year’s defensive line haul contains three ends and three tackles, led by five-star tackle Ondre Pipkins. This is a very important position group to watch heading into fall camp as it will need to replace starters Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen. There will be plenty of opportunity to step in and grab some playing time as Hoke and Mattison look for suitable replacements. Let’s take a look at the guys who may do so.
On Friday, we profiled the offensive line and on Saturday the running backs. Today, we round out the offensive side of the ball with the receivers and tight ends. The coaching staff did a nice job of balancing the commitments with a freakishly athletic receiving tight end and a big blocking tight end, as well as a playmaking wide receiver and a tall, lanky possession type receiver. All of which will get a chance to play right away due to the departures of Junior Hemingway, Kevin Koger, and Steve Watson and the loss of Darryl Stonum, and all fit well into Al Borges’ pro-style system. As a group, the four average 3.4 stars and a position rating of 37.
Yesterday we profiled Michigan’s impressive offensive line haul and today we’re taking a look at the guys they’ll be paving the running lanes for. While none of these backs are highly coveted backs, it’s a nice diverse group that fills needs. Norfleet was a late target but picked up the Michigan offer he had always wanted and surprised most Michigan fans with a commitment on National Signing Day. Houma fills a big need at fullback as Brady Hoke intends to get Michigan back to the pro style offense of old. Johnson is an under the radar guy from Michigan’s backyard who will have his work cut out for him the next four or five years. Collectively, the group has an average star rating of 3.1 and position rating of 42nd.