The Michigan Wolverines have had a loud few months on the recruiting trail with four commitments in the 2021 cycle since the end of the COVID-shortened season. That class currently ranks fifth in the country and second in the Big Ten with four prospects that are all ranked inside of the top-150 players in the country.
The Wolverines have added scoring punch on the wing with four-star guards Kobe Bufkin and Isaiah Barnes, a forward that can stretch the floor in Will Tschetter and a point guard with bounce and explosiveness in Frankie Collins. For most programs, this would already be a heck of a haul, but Juwan Howard and staff are not done yet.
With seemingly a pair of spots in this recruiting class still available and some major needs filled, a full-court press is now being put on five-star prospects that can come in and put this over the top. Right now, the most notable of those recruitments may be forward Harrison Ingram, who has a looming decision that Michigan is very much a factor in.
The last time we spoke here, we covered that a decision could come any time now. A week later, that remains the case with the Wolverines positioned rather favorably in a race that also includes Stanford and Purdue.
Earlier this week, 247Sports’ Brandon Jenkins spoke to Ingram ($) after an event in Texas and mentioned that the experience he could get at Michigan “would just be something I could not replicate anywhere else” as it pertains to the positional versatility and coaching he could get. He also stated that Purdue is the school that is currently recruiting him the hardest.
The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb put on an update on Wednesday morning ($) and stated that Ingram has been looking over the rosters at each of the contenders and that the idea of Jett Howard — one of the top guards in the 2022 class and Juwan Howard’s son — potentially being on the roster at the same time as him has given him something to think about in terms of fit.
Matt EM over at MGoBlog went further into this in his latest recruiting piece:
A source close to the recruitment tells me that Michigan is one of two teams at the top along with Purdue. The parents (Mom) really like the Stanford option, but the on-court situation in Palo Alto isn’t appealing enough to Harrison at this time. North Carolina is stronger than accepted wisdom, but trailing the Wolverines and Boilermakers.
Juwan Howard and staff have done a phenomenal job of making Ingram a top priority to the extent of perhaps being in pole position. The holdup? The same source tells me Harrison may have questions about his role in the offense come 2022 when Jett Howard comes aboard if he’s not a one and done.
Never could I have imagined that Jett Howard, a top 50 prospect that is likely best suited playing off-ball, would potentially be a roadblock for a 2021 5-star that is an elite shot creator. Such is life in recruiting.
The common thread in all the reports that have been out in the last number of weeks is that Michigan is one of the teams in the top two. As far as the fit with Jett Howard goes, the issue does not seem to be with the role fit as much as with the idea that Ingram may not be the “go-to” guy on offense at all times. I won’t discount that as being a valid concern, but he would have a whole year under his belt by the time the 2022 class arrives. He’s a five-star with NBA potential and would have plenty of time to prove himself ahead of then.
I do think this will ultimately come down to Michigan and Purdue with Stanford a rung below. If Ingram is truly looking over the programs and the rosters, it is hard to see why the Cardinal would be a serious factor with comparable academic institutions also in the mix. He wants the ball in his hands and is an offensive creator, so perhaps an open path to being the guy might change that. Depending on who you talk to, some will say Michigan leads while others believe that Purdue’s persistence will ultimately pay off. The consensus here is that the Wolverines have positioned themselves as well for this five-star as they have any so far under Howard and now they cross their fingers that it finally pays off.
Trevor Keels to announce top three ‘soon’
Another five-star guard prospect that the Wolverines find themselves in the mix for his Trevor Keels, who might also be close to narrowing down his recruitment. According to a post from Tipton Edits, Keels says that his top three is coming “soon.”
2021 five-star Trevor Keels tells me he will announce his top three schools “soon”.— Tipton Edits (@TiptonEdits) September 6, 2020
Stayed tuned for the date and time.
Offers: UNC, Duke, Michigan, Villanova, Virginia, Ohio State, Louisville, among others. pic.twitter.com/nKClNTMlDz
This one probably is not as positive in favor of Michigan with a “who’s who” of schools in contention for his services. You can put me in the camp that would be pretty surprised if the Wolverines made the cut here, especially with Ingram still on the board.
The latest with Jaden Hardy
Hardy is not a 2021 name we have discussed a ton here because Michigan has never really had much of a shot, but what seemed like a recruitment that was a lock to Kentucky is trending a bit away from that now, as our friends over at A Sea of Blue wrote yesterday.
Now, Kentucky has a new adversary that’s already proving to be as fierce as any Hall of Fame coach.
It’s no school, but instead the NBA’s G-League professional pathway program.
Over the last year, the G-League has signed Jalen Green, Jon Kuminga, Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix, all recruits Kentucky had some level of interest in. The Wildcats were actually seen as the favorites at various points for Green and Todd, but they were also strongly considering the G-League.
Ultimately, Kentucky passed on them, largely due to the threat of the G-League poaching them in the summer when there’d be no adequate replacements for Calipari to pursue.
It appears a similar fate could be playing out with Jaden Hardy.
Once viewed as a strong Kentucky lean, Hardy has been trending away for several months now, and a big reason why is Hardy’s interest in the G-League.
The G-League has already been unkind to Michigan on the trail in the Isaiah Todd recruitment and the pathway has been blown wide open by prospects like Todd and Jalen Green. It just goes to show how legitimate an option this is now for elite recruits.