The Michigan Wolverines have officially announced all six members of the 2021 basketball recruiting class with each member inking his letter of intent to join the program this week. This includes the pair of recently-committed five-star commits, putting to rest one of the biggest questions about Juwan Howard’s ability to close the deal with blue chip prospects.
The six-man haul currently ranks as the top-ranked class in the country a year after Howard signed the Big Ten’s best class in the 2020 cycle. As of now, all spots are filled and accounted for pending any offseason attrition via NBA Draft early entries, transfers, etc.
Below is a rundown of everyone who has signed, along with a quick scouting report and quotes from Howard.
All rankings via 247Sports Composite, quotes via program release
Five-star power forward Caleb Houstan (Montverde Academy)
No. 8 overall player | No. 2 power forward | Mississauga, Ontario
What he gives you is someone that will bring floor spacing capabilities and be ready to pull the trigger from anywhere on the court, though I do have some questions about his mid-range consistency. With that said, he still shows a great stroke from the three-point line and should have no problem pulling up in transition to let one rip, which is something we saw quite a bit of in Howard’s offense last season.
Something that also sticks out his his on-floor IQ and ability to be in the right place at the right time. This is a poised young man who is wise beyond his years and has already developed that feel for the game. It is just a matter of the other aspects continuing to come along. While not the most explosive athlete, his body control is impressive and he should only continue to fill out his frame. He should only be more dangerous attacking the basket as he matures. He’s also a perfect fit as a pick-and-pop shooter in the system that Howard has installed in Ann Arbor.
There are a few concerns upon initial review. Given his limited athleticism, I am not sure if he is going to be handle guarding some of bouncier wings in the conference. It seems likely that he would draw the assignment of the four-men that Michigan faces. The traits are there to be a an adequate defender, but I don’t ever see it being a defining part of his game at the college level. Despite his five-star status, I do not see as high of a ceiling as some of the other elite prospects Michigan has missed on. The floor is extremely high, though.
“Caleb has continued to challenge himself since an early age and you can see that blossoming,” said Howard. “He has so many different and valuable experiences playing against some of the strongest competition internationally and at Montverde. He is so even-keeled, naturally gifted and just has a feel for the game which allows him to be a leader and succeed in anything he puts his mind to. Andrea and David are tremendous and caring people and you can see that in everything Caleb does.”
“Early on in the process, I knew there was something different about Michigan and the coaching team there. I am excited to play for Coach Howard and to be part of the culture that he is creating — it is something that I knew I wanted to be part of,” Houstan said. “The entire coaching and development team and the players have all reached out and welcomed me to the Michigan family. I know Michigan is going to help me immensely both on and off the court, and I can’t wait to get down to Ann Arbor and get to work with my guys.”
Five-star power forward Moussa Diabate (IMG Academy)
No. 20 overall player | No. 6 power forward | Paris, France
Diabate has a burgeoning skill-set and is very much still coming into his own. The combination of length (he has a 7-foot-1 wingspan), size and athleticism make him one of the most exciting young projects in basketball right now. When you watch him on the floor, he moves like three-man while being able to take on the duties of a five. His ability to protect the rim and be a presence as a rebounder are skills that immediately stick out and make him an immediate contributor the second he arrives on campus. Defensively, he has shown the ability to take care of business in the paint while also being able to switch to the perimeter in a situation where it arises.
The offense is a work in progress right now, as is generally the case with young post players. He wins with explosion as opposed to power at this stage of the game. The good news is that his perimeter game is starting to come along at a fairly decent clip. It also appears that he is starting to improve as a ballhandler and distributor, which fits in extremely well with what Howard and his staff have added in the class.
“We are looking forward to working with someone who is high-energy on court and high-character off the court. Moussa has an incredible work ethic and is one of those young men who is ‘all-in’ and puts forth the effort to really make success easy,” said Howard. “We were drawn to his competitive nature and his willingness to do what it takes to find ways to win. Having so many life and playing experiences in the U.S. and France, Korotoumou has really allowed Moussa to grow into an amazing young man. Michigan fans are going to enjoy him.”
“I am so appreciative for the opportunity Coach Howard and the coaching staff is giving me at the University of Michigan — in basketball and with my education,” Diabate said. “There is such a comfort for me with Coach and the other players, especially the incoming guys, that it made my decision easy. There are big things ahead and I cannot wait to be part of it.”
Four-star point guard Frankie Collins (Coronado HS)
No. 59 overall player | No. 10 point guard | Las Vegas, NV
He is not the biggest player at 6-foot-1, but he is extremely athletic point guard prospect that excels in both creating for himself and also working in a ball screen offense. If Jalen Warley packed the biggest offensive punch of the prospects that Michigan was in on and Carter Whitt was the best passer, I think you’re getting a nice hybrid of those two things in Collins’ commitment.
Collins is a traditional point guard that shows a strong ability to get his teammates involved, but also create for himself and take over games when he has to. He wants the ball in his hands and he’ll make sure that it stays there until an opportunity to make a play is there, whether it be by taking it on himself or getting teammates involved.
The way he is able to get downhill and finish around the rim is impressive for a player of his size and he does have the ability to stretch a defense with his perimeter shooting, although there are plenty of questions about his efficiency in his jump shots and selection. What he lacks in his size he more than makes up for in athleticism and his wingspan and he has shown himself plenty capable of getting after it on the defensive end of the court.
“My family and I have known Frankie and his family for several years. We have seen him grow as a person and a player,” said Howard. “Jontae and Aaron have been a joy to be around, and they have really guided Frankie to make good choices athletically and academically. I was just thrilled when he chose to come to Ann Arbor. He has a great feel for the game and continues to improve. He sees the floor so well and his basketball IQ helps him make his teammates better.”
“Knowing Coach Howard, his family, even playing with Jace and Jett throughout all these years has been an amazing experience,” Collins said. “Now, having this opportunity to be coached by him — at the University of Michigan — is going to be very special for me and my family. Time cannot go fast enough as I can’t wait to start this next challenge.”
Four-star shooting guard Kobe Bufkin (Grand Rapids Christian)
No. 63 overall player | No. 12 shooting guard | Grand Rapids, MI
He does possess combo guard qualities, but based on his film and feedback from those who have watched him play, he is more of a two than a one. Though, he does have the ability to bring the ball up the floor.
You would probably like to see a little more consistency in his three-point shooting, but he has a bounce and a quickness to his game mixed with length that I think is going to make him an early factor in Ann Arbor. His athleticism jumps off of his film and everything he does looks extremely fluid and smooth on the floor. Despite his pace of play, he never really appears to be out of control.
He still has a senior season to play and some developing to do, but it is not hard to imagine him in the Eli Brooks role as a higher-end option and more along the lines of what Howard is trying to build. Bufkin might be a point guard option in time, but right now he looks best suited as a combo-two guard that does a lot of damage of off ball screens. I see the potential here for one of the better multi-year offensive players in the Big Ten, especially if he can add a little more weight to his frame.
“The consistency Kobe has shown with his game has helped him become one of the top players in the state of Michigan. The impressive thing is he has not stayed satisfied with that as he keeps working on and off the floor to become the best person he can be,” said Howard. “Yes, he can score in a variety of ways; however, it is his dedication to defense that makes him an all-around joy to want to coach. There are many U-M fans who bleed maize and blue, and Kobe is no exception. Kim and Mike have a wonderful young man on their hands.”
“Signing with Michigan is a dream come true for me and my family. For so long I have watched and been part of the Maize and Blue,” Bufkin said. “It’s a blessing to have coach (Juwan) Howard believe in me. Being able to continue my basketball career but challenge myself academically is something I am looking forward to.”
Four-star small forward Isaiah Barnes (Simeon HS)
No. 114 overall player | No. 21 small forward | Chicago, Illinois
His development has always been about the physical tools coming along, which will remain the case moving forward. This is a long and athletic wing prospect that appears to be best suited to play the two or the three and he has proven to be a solid defender at multiple spots on the floor.
There is not a ton of video out there on him, especially with athletic seasons coming to a halt due to the pandemic, but by all accounts Barnes can best be described at this stage of the game as inconsistent or streaky offensively. A lot of the reports and film on him show him as a catch-and-shoot type of prospect, though he did start to put the ball on the floor a bit more and create for himself in his junior season. His improvement here could be the difference between being a three-and-d guy off the bench or someone who can come in and be a major contributor with some coaching.
“Isaiah brings a work ethic and a drive that we were immediately drawn to,” said Howard. “This is not just on the basketball court, it is in the classroom as well. However, his skill set on the floor is so very versatile that it will allow him to play many different roles for us. Dee and Danny have raised a very down-to-earth young man. I mean, he is from my old stomping grounds!”
“When Coach Howard first reached out to me, I knew there was a connection,” Barnes said. “Coach, his staff and all the players made me feel like family from the start. Now, to be part of his program and the University of Michigan is very special. I look forward to getting to work down in Ann Arbor.”
Three-star power forward Will Tschetter (Stewartville Senior)
No. 155 overall player | No. 29 power forward | Stewartville, Minnesota
Tschetter is a Power 5-caliber forward prospect that is able to score at all three levels of the floor. Given his size (6-foot-8, 225 pounds), he appears to be best-suited to play the four with the ability to slide down and play a stretch-five position if he is able to add more bulk to his frame. His finishing skills around the rim are impressive and he is confident in his ability to fill a stat sheet from every level of the floor.
Tschetter has the look of a player who might make more of an impact in the later seasons of his college career as he adapts to the speed and the flow of the college game. Minnesota is not necessarily known as a powerful basketball state, so there are certainly some level-of-competition “concerns,” if you want to call them that. His athleticism has come into question, as well, but there is still plenty of time for him to develop and we know that he will be in one of the better strength and conditioning programs in college basketball, assuming Jon Sanderson sticks around.
“Michigan fans are really going to like Will, not just on the court but off it as well. He is a strong and tough player who has tremendous balance to his game,” said Howard. “What we like the most is that he cares so deeply for improving himself academically as well as athletically. Kasey and Garth have had their successes athletically and have been very supportive of Will’s decisions throughout this process, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We cannot wait to coach Will.”
“I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to play for such an amazing coach, staff and program. Only adding to that is to be able to attend one of the most prestigious academic universities in the nation, and even in the world,” Tschetter said. “This makes this opportunity truly special to me and my family. I cannot wait to get to Ann Arbor and start my journey.”