Predicting a recruiting class after one commitment and so many variables still on the board while a global pandemic persists is perhaps an exercise in futility. However, now that the Michigan Wolverines have added a piece to the puzzle in 2021 with the commitment of four-star forward Isaiah Barnes, it helps us at least lock in on what the other needs are and check where things are at.
Once again it is worthy to repeat that recruitments are still fairly wide open and timelines have been dependent on whether or not kids can make on-campus visits. As of now, the NCAA is prohibiting in-person recruiting through August. Because of that, it still might take some time to fill the class.
Here’s where things stand as of now. The criteria here is what feels like a realistic scenario given where Michigan seems to stand with current targets.
Committed: Four-star forward Isaiah Barnes
Barnes — 247Sports’ No. 85 player in the country — committed to Michigan last week. Here’s what we had to say about him in our writeup:
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.
Best-guess predictions for the 2021 class
Five-star forward Harrison Ingram
Ingram would be a great get for this cycle and offers a nice juxtaposition in skillset to what a player like Barnes would bring. Ingram is more of a point/power forward, whereas Barnes slides more in as a two or a three.
Four-star combo guard Jalen Warley
Point/combo guard is the biggest need in this class and probably should be where the staff directs the most attention next. The Wolverines will lose both Eli Brooks and Mike Smith after 2020-21, which leaves only Zeb Jackson as someone who can handle the ball on the roster. The Wolverines do not only need bodies there, but they need someone who can make an impact there. Warley has a connection with Phil Martelli and Michigan will continue to work that relationship hard.
Four-star point guard Angelo Brizzi
As it was mentioned before, guard is going to be a big need. I can see a scenario where Michigan lands a pair of point guards and like Warley, Brizzi has a relationship with Martelli and is someone that Michigan is high on. He is still raw and coming into his own, but assuming Michigan can add someone like Warley and Jackson is as advertised, it buys him some time.
Three-star power forward Will Tschetter
This feels like a two-horse race between Michigan and Minnesota, the latter of which Tschetter hails from.
Michigan could have as many as seven scholarships available for 2021 if Chaundee Brown is ruled eligible for this season and Franz Wagner goes pro.
Five-star center/forward Efton Reid
There have been whispers that Michigan would be interested In bringing in Reid to reclassify and fill the final spot in 2020, but signs so far seem to be pointing to him stay in 2021. Michigan will have Hunter Dickinson and Brandon Johns on the roster in 2021-22 as the only to players who can play the five, so somewhere along the line, they could use some depth.
Five-star center Charles Bediako
Similar to Reid, Michigan is keeping tabs on the Canadian big man, who is transferring to IMG Academy. Things are still developing in his recruitment, but I would not be surprised to see the pursuit for either of these guys heat up as we move into the critical stretch of the 2021 cycle.
Five-star guard Trevor Keels
If I were a betting man, in a scenario where Michigan was in prime position to do so, I think they can land either Ingram or Keels. To land both would be a heck of a get for them. Keels is more of a combo guard than a forward and has drawn comparisons to Dion Waiters.
Four-star guard Jaden Akins
If you asked me to rank the point guard targets on the board, Warley and Brizzi are the top two with Akins in third. Michigan landing at least one of those three guys would be a positive.
Four-star forward Quincy Allen
Michigan has been pushing, but Allen has been thought of as a North Carolina State lean. He would be another scoring wing to add to the class.
I think it’s more likely that Michigan has more than five scholarships available than not. With so many spots to fill, it creates an opportunity to mix early playing time opportunities that appeal to prospects looking to showcase themselves for the next level and also to take chances on projects. Barnes fits the bill in the latter category as the first commit of the cycle.
With the needs they have and the names in the mix, people will once again ask how Michigan can create room. The answer is the same as it was for this past cycle, and that is that things will work themselves out. After a wild offseason where we thought there would be a scholarship crunch, Michigan now finds itself one under the limit for next season. But as of now, this feels like the type of class you might be looking at.