Michigan's 2014 class is on its way to campus and the 2015 class is still in the works, but yesterday marked yet another step forward in recruiting, as Michigan was able to offer scholarships to 2016 targets for the first time. The build up to this day has been weeks and months in the making, and while there was already a good idea of what would happen, we know have confirmation of just who Michigan is targeting the hardest for 2016.
The first of those is NV PG Derryck Thornton Jr., a five-star prospect that has recently been trending the Wolverines' way. Thornton was on campus a week ago for a Michigan camp, and came away very impressed according to UMHoops:
"It was probably my best visit, it was great," Thornton reiterated. "The staff did a great job so that was one of my better visits, if not the best one."
Thornton is a west coast prospect, but unlike many he doesn't seem married to the idea of staying out west. Michigan has put itself in a great position to gain a commitment from Thornton, and the point guard has hinted that he may make his decision early. If that happens, it obviously bodes well for Michigan at this point.
Also at Michigan's camp a week ago was NJ guard Tyus Battle, another five-star prospect and focus on Michigan's 2016 recruiting effort. Battle is a hyper-athletic two-guard that is currently ranked in the top 20 overall nationally (as is Thornton). Battle is not quite as high on the Wolverines as Thornton (although he does have legit interest) and has upcoming visits to Villanova, Louisville and Kentucky.
Staying in the backcourt, the Wolverines also offered a pair of four-star point guards in Cassius Winston (MI) and Quentin Gooden (KY). Both players are very talented, but neither seems particularly close to ending his recruitment, and Michigan is likely in a better position with Thornton. However, if things change in that department, look for Michigan to make a stronger push with one or both of these two.
Moving to the front court, Michigan has its sights set on two different plan A recruits. One is CA forward TJ Leaf, another five-star and top-20 player nationally. Leaf has been on campus a couple times and holds MIchignan in his top group. However, he is a west coast kid and normally that is an obstacle. Also an obstacle will be Indiana's strong recruitment of him, which presents another midwest foe to overcome.
The other major forward prospect Michigan is after is OH wing Seth Towns. Currently unrated by just about everyone, Towns has been on frequent visits to Ann Arbor and is very comfortable with the coaches and program. The odds are good that both A) Towns becomes a Wolverine and B) he outgrows his current rating by recruiting experts (Beilein has a good track record identifying talent early). MIchigan's main competition right now is Dayton, Xavier, and Virginia Tech.
FInally, Michigan offered OH F/C John Teske, a three-star prospect. Teske likes MIchigan and is also being recruited by Ohio State, Dayton, and Indiana (only the first two have offered). The Wolverines look to be in a good position with Teske right now.
What Does All This Mean?
Not a whole lot right now. Michigan is still probably a ways away from getting its first commit, barring a seriously early deicision from Derryck Thornton Jr. — something that is not outside the realm of possibility. Michigan is in a good position with all of these recruits, and seems to have its eye on a couple up-and-comers in Towns and Teske (who the services rank very low at this point).
Michigan is currently looking to fill four spots in 2016, but that number is almost certainly meaningless with the 2015 class not even begun and two years of potential early departures for current Michigan players available. Likely, Michigan will look to feature a talented guard or two in the backcourt with a frontcourt of Towns and Teske. If I had to guess at the likelyhood of commitment among this group, I would say (the first group being players Michigan is a favorite to land, the second group being more toss-ups):
However, this is just the beginning of the 2016 recruiting cycle, and as we know from years past, things can change quite a bit over the course of these next two years.