The Wolverine

June/July 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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40 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2017 2017 BASKETBALL RECRUITING ISSUE in the 2017 class, a trio of high-upside, high-character players who appear to be perfectly suited for what the Wolver- ines like to do. Shooting guard Jordan Poole (6-4, 185, Rivals.com's No. 102 player na- tionally) was the first to commit, the summer before his junior season. The four-star recruit then transferred from Milwaukee Rufus King to La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere School for his senior year and won a national title. Combo guard Eli Brooks (6-1, 170, three-star) of Spring Grove (Pa.) High was next, choosing the Wolverines over defending national champion Vil- lanova in July 2016. Three-star Kalam- azoo (Mich.) Central power forward Isaiah Livers (6-8, 210, No. 132) then picked the Wolverines over Michigan State in August 2016, a huge recruiting win over U-M's rival. They all might well be underrated. Poole checked in at No. 48 and Livers at No. 72 nationally on ESPN, while Brooks — a consensus three-star pros- pect — has been under the radar. All fit the program perfectly, Beilein said. "This is a really good class," he ex- plained. "We expect them to all have really, really good careers at Michigan. Depending on what happens in the month of May with our two guys at the NBA Draft combine, our need for them to play will probably be more than last year. "We had all five starters back last year, then D.J. [Wilson] got into the starting lineup. It was hard for anyone on that team to break through. This team will need somebody to break through, as well as the guys that did not play much last year, or the red- shirts." All three will get the opportunity, for various reasons. Poole, who averaged 14.0 points per game at La Lumiere, is an elite shooter and proved it on the national stage. He won the three-point contest at the February Dr. Pepper Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn., and his two long triples — one at the third- quarter buzzer, one to start the fourth — sparked a 70-52 win over Florida's Montverde Academy in the Dick's Sporting Goods National Champion- ship game. Poole notched 13 points, three steals, three rebounds and four assists in the title contest, and he also showed off his great passing ability. "There was never any wavering with him," Beilein said of the early commit- ment. "We never worried about that one, one bit. "He really has grown so much both physically and mentally this past year. He came from a good high school pro- gram, and when the coach [at Rufus King] left, La Lumiere made a lot of sense for him. He really embraced that." Poole can play any of the three smaller positions on the floor, Beilein added, including some point guard. His shooting is his forte, but his passing ability might be the most underrated part of his game. "He can really pass," Beilein said. "And he's still only 17 years old today. He needs to add strength … that's the biggest thing. Lack of strength and lack of defense are usually what keeps most freshmen off the floor … can you come in and are you strong enough to play at this level, and can you guard at this level, on and off the ball?" They'll find out. But there's no ques- tion he's got the confidence to contrib- ute his first year, and no filter when it comes to shooting from range, even out to 30 feet. "Jordan's got plenty of swag," Beilein said with a grin. "If they go in, I won't rein him in." Strength and defense could also de- termine how much Livers contributes in his first season. A multi-sport athlete, the in-state product has continued to elevate his game each season. His prog- ress on the prep level culminated with the state's prestigious Mr. Basketball Award given annually to Michigan's best player. Livers put up his big numbers de- spite missing good portions of fourth quarters in Central blowouts and also sitting out a few games while work- ing through the flu. He averaged 17.5 points, 14.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game during the regular season, and head coach Ramsey Nichols com- pared him to former Duke star Grant Hill because he can play multiple posi- This past season, Jordan Poole — a 6-4 shooting guard — helped La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere win the national championship. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM Head coach John Beilein "This is a really good class. We expect them to all have really, really good careers at Michigan. Depending on what happens in the month of May with our two guys at the NBA Draft com- bine, our need for them to play will probably be more than last year. … This team will need somebody to break through."

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