When John Beilein announced he was pulling out of the Detroit Pistons coaching search, two immediate ramifications occurred.
It starts with the obvious: Michigan remains, with its combination of experienced talent and coaching, a battle-tested team that should contend for the Big Ten title and a decent seed in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
With his return, Beilein and the Wolverines also can continue to ride their recent momentum on the 2019 recruiting trail. The commitment of four-star wing Jalen Wilson represents one of Michigan’s highest-rated recruits in the Beilein era, but the Wolverines are far from done. Here’s where the Wolverines stand with their top targets:
Keion Brooks, 5-star SF, 6-foot-8, Fort Wayne, Indiana:
While Brooks has always been a long-shot for Michigan — 247Sports currently projects Michigan State as a 56 percent to sign him — the 30th-ranked player in the ESPN 60 put Michigan in his top 10 schools, along with Georgetown, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina, Purdue, Texas and UCLA.
Even though the Wolverines already secured Wilson, adding Brooks would give Michigan a next-level athlete who can pop back to the 3-point line and bang down low for rebounds.
D.J. Carton, 4-star PG, 6-foot-2, Bettendorf, Iowa:
Carton, on the other hand, seems like much more of a sure bet to sign with Michigan. The Iowan point guard is an unusually explosive athlete, and plays a similar game as former Wolverine Derrick Walton Jr. While he narrowly missed the cut for the Team USA U18 team, he made a strong impression at their camp — especially in one-on-one drills and as a leader.
While Wisconsin was an early favorite in his recruiting process, Carton has formed a strong bond with many at Michigan. According to The Athletic, Carton maintained contact with Beilein throughout the coach’s brief flirtation with the Pistons, and is close friends with Wilson.
If Michigan can wrap him up, it’ll be looking at a potential guard rotation of David DeJulius, Carton, Eli Brooks, and one of Zavier Simpson or Jordan Poole, assuming they don’t go supernova this upcoming season. Not bad at all.
Mark “Rocket” Watts, 4-star SG, 6-foot-2, Detroit, MI:
Watts, just like Carton, was a force at the USA U18 Basketball camp, but actually took it a step further and made the team.
According to Rivals.com, Watts did whatever he wanted offensively, to the point where opposing players could only “pray that a solid contest and disciplined defense can do the trick.”
Right now it is unclear where the top 50 player is leaning. Michigan extended him an offer very early on, but he hasn’t released a top schools list. Beilein and Luke Yaklich have a leg up on his recruitment considering that Watts is from the Detroit area, but for now, he’s a wild card. Either way, Beilein’s presence seems to be a large factor for Watts.
“(Michigan) made it to the Final Four and that surprised me a little bit, but coach (John) Beilein is a great coach,” Watts said to 247Sports’ Josh Henschke. “He loves quick guards, and he lets his guards play off of pick and roll, so I think it would be a great system to play in.”