The Michigan Wolverines landed the first member of the 2021 recruiting cycle on Wednesday in the form of quick-rising forward Isaiah Barnes out of Oak Park, Illinois, making it the first time head coach Juwan Howard has landed a recruit out of his native Chicago area.
Barnes was unranked up until recently, as a strong junior campaign put him into 247Sports’ top 100 prospects at No. 85. According to 247’s composite, Barnes is the No. 106 overall player in the country and a four-star recruit. He currently stands around 6-foot-7 and 180 pounds.
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. MGoBlog put the comparison on him as a less explosive Charles Matthews, and that feels like an apt parallel given what is out there on him so far.
Going from not rated to among the top 100 prospects in the country is an impressive feat and it points to the upside that those in the industry feel that Barnes brings to the table. Michigan is going to be thin on wing depth in 2021-22, especially if Chaundee Brown is ruled immediately eligible this year and if Franz Wagner goes pro. Because of this, Howard and his staff are far from done recruiting wing talent with prospects like Harrison Ingram, Trevor Keels, Quincy Allen still in the mix.
It feels like the next move for the staff is likely to start pushing for the point guard/combo guard position. You would love for them to take a big swing at a guy like Jaden Hardy at the top of the board, but he feels bound for Kentucky eventually. That leaves Jalen Warley, Jaden Akins and Angelo Brizzi as those in the running to fill that spot. Could they take more than one of those players given the need at the position? It’s possible, but we’ll have to see them land one of them first.
As of right now, the Wolverines have four available scholarships for the 2021-22 season. If I were a betting man, I’d say you are probably looking at adding a point guard, another wing and a big that can play both the four and the five. From there, they can aim big for the best available prospect at either the point or on the wing.