When new head coach Tommy Amaker (right) took over the Michigan basketball program last year, he knew he would have to execute a successful recruiting campaign for the class of 2002. Amaker needed some size and the class of 2002 is very thin along the front line.
Amaker’s first task when he took over the Michigan program was to re-convince Lester Abram (left), a 6-5, 188 pound swingman from Northern H.S. in Pontiac, Mich., to recommit to Michigan. Amaker did it in relatively little time. Abram gave back his verbal to Michigan in the middle of June. Initially, Abram had committed to former head coach Brian Ellerbe.
“I went up there [Ann Arbor] and had a one on one conversation with Coach Amaker,” Abram told us. “I was kind of scared to recommit, because I did not know if he wanted me or not. But then when I went up there, he made it clear that he still wanted me. He came to a couple of my practices and saw me play. I just like what he was talking about doing for the program and what my role was going to be. And that's where I really wanted to go, and he really wanted me. So that's where I'm going.”
Abram, a lefty with bouncy athleticism (recovers well on leap), has the ability to score on the drive or from beyond the arc. He's got great body control, uses alert fakes and quick moves to gain advantages on defenders and has a knack for drawing contact and getting to the free throw line. It’s because of these skills he will be a scorer on the college level. As a junior, Lester averaged 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks per game. He is also set academically.
Michigan has also received a verbal commitment from Chris Hunter (right), a 6-11, 200-pound center/power forward from West Side High School in Gary, Indiana. Hunter committed to Michigan in late September. Tobie Smith of the Michigan Wolverine was the first to break the story on the Hunter commitment.
Hunter had previously considered (at one time during his recruiting process) Illinois, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Ohio State, and Seton Hall. Hunter’s recruiting really picked up with some spice after his summer. Rivalshoops.com saw Hunter compete at the Nationals in Orlando, Florida in late July. Hunter seemed to work well with Sean May in the high-low post offense. Rivalshoops.com also watched Hunter at the ABCD camp in early July. It appeared that Hunter’s confidence in his offensive game picked up as the summer progressed.
When many coaches watched Hunter toward the end of the summer and saw he was developing more offensively, this is when Chris’ phone started to ring more.
What Amaker has in Hunter is a player who can block a lot of shots and rebound. He is also athletic enough and agile to run up and down the floor if you want to play transitional basketball. “I like coach Amaker a lot,” Hunter said after his commitment. “Michigan plays in the Big Ten and I wanted to play in a great conference. I am excited to be part of their program. I feel I can help them out inside.”
Hunter will help them out inside for sure. And Hunter will have some help in Graham Brown, a 6-9, 235-pound forward from Mio High School in Michigan. Brown committed to the Wolverines during the summer. Brown can also play the power forward slot and center position on the college level since he is a very physical player who likes to bang bodies on the low blocks. Brown is a four year, program player. He will do anything to help Michigan win.
One of the headliners in this great recruiting class is Daniel Horton (left), a 6-3, 185 pound junior combo guard from Cedar Hill (TX) High School in Texas. During the summer, Horton showed the ability to put the ball in the basket. He hit his threes, hit pretty floaters over big people and sparkles when he connects on sweet reverse layups. His offensive game is so good you have to accept he is not a pure point guard. He runs a decent floor game from the lead guard slot. Horton is a real true combo guard. He makes so many shots and has a very good eye in spotting open teammates. Make no mistake about it, Horton looks to score first. But he can score as good as any guard in the class of 2002.
He played for Mitch Malone's Texas Blue Chips during the summer. There he handles the point. "I feel comfortable at either spot," he said.
This is a great weapon for Amaker. Horton is very effective at both spots. But you want Horton shooting the ball. He will score plenty of points for the Wolverines.
Amadou Ba, a 6-10, 240-pounder, provides Michigan with additional size and bulk at the center spot. He is a little bit raw but has plenty of upside. He is similar to Brown. He is a program player for Michigan. Ba will need some time to make a significant impact. But he is a role player to defend and rebound right now. He is a great kid who will do anything to help his team win. His best days are ahead of him.
And there are going to be plenty of good days in the future for Amaker and Michigan after netting this talented class.