A couple weeks ago the talk was on recruiting big men, either as transfers or fresh out of high school recruits. Well, that talk didn't last too long as John Beilein brought in his first new player since DJ Wilson committed to Michigan. This player is combo guard Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rakhman (or, as MGoBlog has already effectively shortened it, something worthwhile for me to do as well: MAAR).
In fact, if we are talking about historical precedent with recruits, MAAR is the first MIchigan recruit to be this unheralded since arguably Spike Albrecht. MAAR is a 6'4 guard that was a four-time all-state selection, scored over 2000 points in high school, and averaged 23/6/4 last year. For all of that, only ESPN has bothered to rank him, and that is as a two-star prospect.
While recent interest has picked up, MAAR's offer sheet for quite some time was limited to the likes of Rice, Harvard, Bucknell, Drexel, and LeHigh. Lately, Penn State, Boston College, and Michigan had gotten into the action with Michigan winning out on MAAR's visit to campus this week.
Officially Committed to The University of Michigan #GoBlue#Team99— Smooth Operator☁️ (@theprophet_5) April 19, 2014
So, the Wolverines have went out and found a lightly ranked combo guard out of the midwest that had all sorts of high school accomplishments but went under recruited anyway. Now, before you proclaim this kid the next Trey Burke based off of that demographic info, there is another guard I would like to draw attention to.
A few years ago, before Trey Burke was Trey Burke, Michigan's 2011 recruiting class actually had a higher profile player in it. That was combo guard Carlton Brundidge. The 6'2 guard got buried behind Burke in the lineup quickly and eventually moved home to play bball at UofD Mercy.
One thing that struck me reading MAAR's scouting report is how similar it read to Brundidge's. MAAR is a slasher, a drive and kick basket attacking force that works best with the ball in his hands. He doesn't have a good jump shot (although it is said to be improving) but makes up for that with energy and athleticism. MAAR is a bit bigger at 6'4, which should help provide some added defensive bonuses.
MAAR is already old for his age, and he will be 20 before he ever plays a game at Michigan. In the game of late recruiting pickups by John Beilein, this seems to be much more of a "need help now" reach than a 'this kid will develop later" pick up. Caris LeVert was one of the latter, a young kid still growing but with the talent to really blossom into something. MAAR is a guy that is already physically where he is going to be and has the experience to hopefully step in and take on some of the offensive and defensive load. In that way he is again like the last unheralded guy Beilein went after. Spike Albrecht came in for the same reason.
Next season when MAAR gets to campus the rotation in the backcourt will be wide open. Walton and Spike will hold down the point, but there is no one to play behind Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin on the wing. MAAR should slide into that role well, providing some valuable defensive minutes off the bench while giving the second team offense a bit of a different look offensively.
While MAAR isn't likely to blow up into an early NBA draft entry, he does seem to have the athleticism and game to step in and be a part of MIchigan's rotation from day one.
Furthermore, Michigan isn't yet done recruiting on the wings just yet.
#Michigan has offered 2014 New Hampton (N.H.) Prep guard Aubrey Dawkins— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) April 19, 2014
While it seemed like a transfer was on the table for a while, it looks like Michigan might just try and add another recruit to the mix with its one remaining open scholarship*.
*(This doesn't take into account the fact that A) McGary could leave and B) Austin Hatch is still listed as a scholarship player).