When David DeJulius received an offer from Michigan back on December 17, 2016, he used two words to sum up his initial feelings.
“Dream school,” DeJulius said. “It’s the school I’ve always loved to watch play.”
However, deciding where he wanted to play basketball, wasn't that simple.
“I had to ask myself, if I wasn't the star player on the team could I see myself playing here,” DeJulius said. “After looking at their playing style, the education and the family atmosphere around the program I said ‘I absolutely could’.”
The six-foot, 188-pound guard is a four-star recruit preparing for his final season at East English Village Prep, where he said he wants to become a better leader and help form his teammates futures as basketball players.
A lot of those “leader” traits are what Beilein has seen in DeJulius according to the Detroit native. It was what started to form their relationship.
“When I was going through the recruiting process, a lot of other coaches were talking about their other recruits and who I was competing with,” DeJulius said. “With coach Beilein, it was more about the players on the team now and I liked that because I feel like he will say those same things about me someday.”
Those players he was talking about come from the likes of Derrick Walton Jr., who during DeJulius’ recruitment process wasn't having his best season as a senior.
Michigan started slow in the Big Ten Conference with a 4-6 record and looked like a team that was white-collared with no extra heart in their game as a mediocre team in the NCAA.
Then things ignited, and Walton, was the starter to all of it.
Michigan won 12 of its final 15 games, a Big Ten Tournament championship and a Sweet 16 visit before being knocked out.
Walton was the catalyst to the group and during all of this, DeJulius got to see first-hand in the locker room for some home games during the second half of the season what it is like for one player to energize and lead a group to be a winning team.
DeJulius said that it started when he was younger, watching Trey Burke lead his team to a national championship game. When Walton finished the way he did, his inspiration to become a Wolverine only grew.
“Watching Derrick (Walton) play the way he did and being from the same city as me was something pretty special,” DeJulius said. “We have talked a lot on a consistent basis and he influenced me a lot with my decision.”
Committing to Michigan wasn't something many other voices outside of the Wolverine program were favoring though, according to DeJulius.
DeJulius explained people would tell him “Beilein isn't right for his style” or “You could play somewhere better” and he replied with a simple “No. Beilein is a winning coach, that’s what I want”.
“They weren't the ones putting in the hard work or the late nights at the gym,” DeJulius said. “That was all me. So I made this decision for myself, and once I could see myself playing there, I knew it was the correct move.
“I had to trust my own judgment, I’m the one who worked for it anyway, right?”
DeJulius will be joining the 2018 class that is currently ranked fifth in the nation by 247Sports. He joins three other four-star players (forwards Colin Castleton, Brandon Johns, Ignas Brazdeikis) and three-star guard Adrien Nunez as a set of five that is all expected to play a different position, giving Michigan a young core of depth.
When asked about his relationships so far with his future teammates, DeJulius laughed and said they couldn't have started any better.
“I used to play against Brandon (Johns) all the time in like seventh or eighth grade when he was with the Lansing Spartans, so I’ve known him,” DeJulius said. “As for the rest of the guys, I’m just starting to get to know them, we have a group chat going and it’s going good.
“Hopefully what I know we can bring to Michigan will only make us closer.”
As far as his freshman season goes, DeJulius understands current Michigan sophomore point guard Zavier Simpson will be competing with him for a starting job.
DeJulius described Simpson as a “tough kid” who is very competitive every time he is on the floor.
“He is out there diving for balls, he’s eating, he’s talking, it’s going to be a good competition but a friendly one,” DeJulius said. “Whether or not one of us starts or we play along side each other, it’ll be a great experience.”
To DeJulius, starting right away doesn't matter.
Instead, getting the chance to play point guard at Michigan is “all he’s ever wanted”.
“Once (Beilein) gains that trust in you, he lets you do your thing,” DeJulius said. “Point guards have been treated well there and it’s why I chose (Michigan) over other schools.
“I’m just excited to see what the next chapter has ready for me.”