The Wolverine

June/July 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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48 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2017 2017 BASKETBALL RECRUITING ISSUE BY CHRIS BALAS M cDonald's All-Ameri- can Game nominee and M i c h i g a n i n c o m i n g freshman Jordan Poole wasn't necessarily looking for a change of scenery when he trans- ferred from Milwaukee Rufus King to La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere for his senior year, but the end result couldn't have been much better. Eight months later, Poole had aver- aged 14.0 points per game against loaded competition for a team that captured the national title on na- tional television. Poole capped his prep career with 13 points, including three critical triples, in a win over Montverde (Fla.) Academy at the Dick's Sport- ing Goods High School Nationals. He first helped the Lakers claw back from an early deficit, and the lat- ter two treys — both from 25 feet — helped create distance down the stretch. From the get-go, Poole was given the green light by La Lumiere head coach Shane Heirman. When hands went down, a shot often went up — and 44.0 percent of the three-point- ers went in. "I feel like I'm already mentally prepared to the best potential I could possibly have because I went to La Lu this year," Poole said. "Go- ing to prep school, they already have you in study hall, teach you how to do individual workouts at 6 a.m., weights, going to practices. There will be nothing I'm new to … going into college, I'm already a step ahead of a lot of other fresh- men, so it shouldn't be a hard tran- sition at all." He also made friendships that will last forever, and he's looking for- ward to doing the same at Michigan. "It's just a long season being around guys like that. That's all we really worked for," he said. "So be- ing able to say you're the No. 1 high school team in the country, let alone the world — that's something not a lot of people get to say." For a year and a half after his Michigan commitment, Poole told other schools "no" when they in- quired about his availability. He'd formed a bond with U-M head coach John Beilein and was honored that the Wolverines made him their first offeree in the 2017 class. U-M's player development was second to none, he said, and he was impressed at the way Beilein taught his players rather than just throwing them out there. Thus, it wasn't difficult to stay committed, he insisted. It was a bit hard, though, to stomach peo- ple telling him that the Wolver- ines were "soft" when they went through a rough patch early in the year, the way Illinois' Maverick Morgan did after a win over Michi- gan in January. Much of that talk disappeared after a late-season run that earned them a Big Ten Tournament title and a Sweet 16 berth with wins over Oklahoma State and Louisville, but one of Poole's goals is to ensure the label disappears forever … or at least during his tenure. "It's going to be much different," he said. "We have a lot of mentally tough guys." And, as he told another outlet, he and his teammates expect to bring "savagery" to the court, something Michigan hasn't seen perhaps since the days of the Fab Five, with the possible exception of 6-3 power for- ward Zack Novak from 2008-12. Poole plays with swagger that seems to rub off on teammates, isn't afraid to shoot from just about anywhere and can see the floor ex- tremely well. He plans to room with incoming freshman forward Isaiah Livers, another who doesn't much care for losing. "I'm supposed to get up there right after I graduate. I'll get home for a weekend and get up there right away, so I can get as many advan- tages as I can to come in and make an impact next year," he said. "I'm focusing on my weight a lot. Com- ing in, the Big Ten is crazy physical- ity. That's going to be valuable to a lot of my minutes, so I'm working on my strength and stuff. "I'm also working on other as- pects of my game … one-dribble pull ups, coming off screens and making good reads, getting my shots up … stuff that will make me excel at the next level and hopefully get [me] to the next level after that." He's certainly not lacking for con- fidence; he isn't apologizing for it, either. "If I come in at 200 pounds as a freshman, I'm going to play right away … I'm already going to play right away, but if I'm going to main- tain my minutes; obviously I've got to come in and shoot like I can," he said. "And if I'm able to take the contact and the physicality, the gruesome hits you take in the Big Ten, I'm going to play a lot right away." Beilein told him he'd have the op- portunity — now it's up to him to take advantage of it, something he fully expects to accomplish. ❏ READY FOR ACTION Guard Jordan Poole Is Prepared, And Expects To Play As A Freshman Poole shot 44.0 percent from three-point range and averaged 14.0 points per game in his one season at La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM Poole "I feel like I'm already mentally prepared to the best poten- tial I could possibly have because I went to La Lu this year. … There will be nothing I'm new to … going into college, I'm already a step ahead of a lot of other freshmen, so it shouldn't be a hard transition at all."

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