The Wolverine

June-July 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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54 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2017 2017 BASKETBALL RECRUITING ISSUE BY CHRIS BALAS I t's too early to know how many prospects Michigan will take in the 2019 class, but the coaches have identified several targets and have been communicating with them for some time. Here's a look at some of those in line for potential offers in June or down the road: MARK "ROCKET" WATTS 6-2 • 160 • PG Detroit Old Redford Prep's No. 73 Sophomore Nationally Once known as a spot-up shooter but not much else, Watts has expanded his game to become a coveted point guard in the 2019 class. He's still an elite shooter, having made 42.0 percent as a soph- omore, but now he's adding to his arsenal and strengthening his body for more. "The last five or six months he's really been working hard in the gym with a trainer, lifting, and his body is getting bigger and better," his coach, Craig Cov- ington, said. "He's really added to differ- ent aspects of his game. His freshman year he was just known as a three-point shooter, but now he's working on getting to the basket, his mid-range game. He's also a better defender and rebounder." He's also got a quality you can't teach. "He wants to be great," Covington said. "He wants to play at the college level and maybe beyond that, and he understands that he has to develop as an all-around player for those things to happen. "Sometimes kids get in the gym and work, but it doesn't translate to the game. He is actually using the drills he is doing with his personal trainer in the game. He is using those same techniques during the game." Watts picked up early offers from both Oakland and the University of Detroit, followed by a big one from Mississippi State, but an offer from Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo opened the flood- gates in mid-April. Since then, Marquette, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Missouri, Alabama and Cincinnati have offered, and have given him even more confidence and a desire to improve his game. College coaches are looking at him as a point guard at the next level, Coving- ton said, though Watts is more a combo guard in the process of developing his point guard skills. How much he grows during the next two years will help deter- mine which position best suits him. Despite the early MSU offer, Watts has gone on record as saying he feels the same about both Michigan and Michigan State. U-M won't offer sophomores until June 15, but Covington doesn't believe that puts the Wolverines at a disadvan- tage. "That's especially true when he knows up front it may happen for him," Coving- ton said. "He's discussed that with Coach [John] Beilein and noticed the recurring pattern that they've never offered sopho- mores before June 15, anyway. "Sometimes it can even help. He contin- ues to get recruited, and they continue to talk to him. I believe he likes Michi- gan, especially when he sees the product on the floor at the guard position that comes with them. The best part about his game is he's a natural-born scorer, really knows how to put the ball in the basket." Exactly what the Wolverines are looking for at their guard positions. ROMEO WEEMS 6-5 • 180 • SF New Haven (Mich.) High's No. 20 Sophomore Nationally Michigan's Class B Player of the Year helped lead New Haven to a 27-1 season and a state championship, averaging 18.0 points and 11.4 rebounds per game as a sopho- more. In New Haven's title-game triumph, he compiled 19 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and three steals. He's a gifted scorer who has picked up interest from the Big Ten and beyond. Michigan is one of those getting more and more familiar with the five-star pros- pect. Beilein was front and center at the Class B state championship game, just a day after the Wolverines were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 in late March. Later, he was also in Indianapolis to watch Weems play with The Family's 16-U AAU squad. "I saw him. It means a lot when all the coaches come see us," Weems said. "You want to play well for them and everyone coming out to watch. "They were supposed to come to my school one day, but I had to go to prac- tice. They've been trying to come and see me practice, send me letters and stuff like that." Weems told Michigan State's Rivals. com site in April that he heard from MSU and Ohio State the most, and Michigan "not as much" as those two. He did get to two or three Michigan games this year, however, and said he grew up a fan of both programs. "Michigan, I like that they go on their own pace. I like their style," he said. "They play smart and play hard. I kind of liked both [programs growing up] … I didn't dislike either one of them, watched both of their games." Weems is a good friend of Michigan 2018 pledge David DeJulius (5-11, No. 129 junior nationally) of Detroit East English Village, which could work in U- M's favor. His recruitment is just getting started, however, and he's still got plenty to work on. "I want to improve my dribbling, keep the ball in tighter," he said. "I'll work on shooting the ball off the dribble, pull-up jumpers, things like that. "My goal is to always try to outwork the next opponent … out-rebound, work harder, get every rebound and get put- backs, never take a play off. I want to get in such good shape that if they get tired, I can out-work them." Weems holds offers from Oakland, Detroit, Creighton, OSU and MSU, and hears from Michigan, Kansas, Xavier and several others. For now he's still basking in the glow of the state title with his eyes on the next one. SUPER SOPHS Michigan Is Watching Several 2019 Prospects, Including A Number Close To Home

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