Three-Point Play: Will Wade, Michigan, USA Basketball U16
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Today in the Three-Point Play national basketball analyst Eric Bossi takes a look at the dramatic changes in Will Wade’s fortunes over the past few months. Will we finally see some movement on the Michigan job search and what should be expected at USA Basketball’s U16 team tryouts this week?
WADE MAY SURVIVE TURMOIL AFTER ALL
I know there are a lot of people out there who think Will Wade should be fired and that LSU should be in hot water with the NCAA over cheating allegations brought to light throughout the course of the NCAA/FBI scandal.
For a time, it looked like he was pretty much cooked when he was suspended indefinitely in early March and missed the SEC and NCAA tournaments. But, here we are nearing the end of May and Wade looks to be far from cooked. As a matter of fact, he’s thriving and at least in the short term it looks like he’s going to survive some pretty heavy allegations from the FBI wiretaps.
On Monday, Wade and his staff landed five-star forward Trendon Watford. Skilled and nearly 6-foot-9, Watford is an instant impact guy who will help to negate the loss of freshman Nazreon Reid to the NBA Draft.
Speaking of the draft, Reid and sophomore point guard Tremont Waters are gone but good news about the four other Tigers who entered is starting to roll in. Freshman Javonte Smart – who appeared to be the next most likely to remain in the draft – has already announced that he will be back in Baton Rouge for his sophomore season and I’d expect that Skylar Mays, Marlon Taylor and Emmitt Williams elect to return as well.
MOVEMENT ON THE MICHIGAN FRONT
Last week, the college hoops world shook when John Beilein left Michigan for the Cleveland Cavaliers. I said it last week and I’ll say it again today, his timing was terrible and because of where we are in the calendar, it’s going to be tough for Michigan to get a legitimate shot with the types of candidates the job should merit.
But, that’s the nature of the beast. It also doesn’t absolve athletic director Warde Manuel from getting caught with his pants down. After Beilein flirted with the NBA before, Manuel needed to be constantly in his ear, making sure he was totally happy and prepared just in case Beilein did leave. So far, it looks like he went 0-fer on all of that. We are a week in and for the most part the job search looks to be stuck in the mud.
The bright side is that we should be seeing some movement. On Monday, Michigan met with Providence coach Ed Cooley (who I wrote last week would be an outstanding candidate) plus they should be meeting with Wolverine legend Juwan Howard today and former Michigan assistant and current Butler head coach LaVall Jordan could be a target down the road. Also, Shaka Smart’s name remains in heavy rotation as a possible candidate.
I don’t know that any of those guys is a home run, but they all strike me as pretty capable and given the circumstances would be reasonable hires. Now, Manuel and his search firm just need to get moving towards actually hiring one of those guys, or somebody else, because time is ticking. The Wolverines already lost top-50 standout Jalen Wilson due to Beilein leaving and the longer they go without a hire, the more danger there is that they could lose four-star signee Cole Bajema as well.
Michigan is and always will be bigger than one or two 2019 recruits, so I’m not terribly worried about that. But, each day that goes by without a new coach hired puts them in a bigger hole with 2020 and 2021 prospects and this isn’t the time or place to be dragging the hiring process out.
USA BASKETBALL U16 TRYOUTS ON TAP
On Wednesday I’ll be making my way to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for USA Basketball’s U16 tryouts. A group of 30-plus players from the classes of 2021 and 2022 will be on hand competing for a spot on the National Team.
For the most part, the general recruiting fan doesn’t yet know a lot about these kids but they’ll be learning soon and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing who steps up and takes their game to another level.
Heading into the event, there are five players that stand out to me as guys that we could be hearing a lot about over the next few days. From the class of 2021, Michael Foster, A.J. Griffin, Kendall Brown and Jabari Smith really have my attention coming into the event. From the 2022 class, I’m really eager to learn more about Jalen Duren.
The highest-ranked player in attendance, I want to see if Foster can emerge as the go-to guy and the team leader. If he’s a top-five player in the sophomore class, that’s what the power forward needs to do. A do-it-all wing, Griffin has been emerging as a potential star and I want to see that continue. As for Brown, I loved him during the winter and want to see if the big wing is as good as we have him ranked (No. 17 in the Rivals150). Then there’s Smith. I love everything I’ve seen on film from the 6-foot-8 forward but I’ve yet to see him in person. We currently have him ranked pretty highly at No. 33 nationally but my colleague Corey Evans thinks he deserves consideration for the top five, so I’m anxious to get my first in person look at him.
As for Duren, the 6-foot-9 big man is the second best player I’ve seen so far from the freshman class (after Emoni Bates). I want to see if I should still be thinking that way or if there are others who are ahead of him at this early stage.