BASKETBALL: Unlike in the past, UofM dancing into the Final Four without much local influence
As the University of Michigan men’s basketball team prepares to play for a National Championship Monday night, it’s interesting to note, unlike other Wolverines hoops squads that advanced into the final four (see 1964, 1965, 1976, 1989, 1992, 1993), the 2013 Maize and Blue cage crew is minus significant contributions from former in-state prep stars.
The only two players in head coach John Beilein’s rotation spawning from high schools in Michigan are role players Jordan Morgan (University of Detroit-Jesuit) and Jon Horford (Grand Ledge).
Beilein’s stars, Trey Burke (Ohio), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Florida), Glenn Robinson, III (Indiana) and Mitch McGary (Indiana) are all from out of state.
In other words, the Wolverines are succeeding in spite of not winning the in-state recruiting battle.
Which is funny when you consider history; up until the past decade and a half, Michigan was far and away the king of the local recruiting game, virtually having their pick of the state’s blue-chip prepster crop each and every year.
The 1964 and 1965 final four teams had All-American center and Detroit Northern product Bill Buntin, all-Big 10 pick and Detroit Western alum Oliver Darden and team captain Larry Tregoning of Ferndale.
The 1976 was captained by Flint schoolboy legend Wayman Britt (Flint Northern) and had Ferndale’s Tom Staton and Alan Hardy from Detroit Northwestern coming off the bench.
The National Championship club in 1989 was led by a trio of Michigan born-and-bred ballers who each went on to become first-round NBA Draft choices. Future multi-year all-star Glen Rice (Flint Northwestern) was the captain and top-scorer on that squad and he was flanked by Terry Mills (Romulus) and Loy Vaught (Kalamazoo Loy Norix) in the frontcourt.
The 1992 and 1993 “Fab Five” teams were famously sparked by Chris Webber (Birmingham Detroit Country Day) and Jalen Rose (Detroit Southwestern), with 1989 Mr. Basketball-winner Michael Talley (Detroit Cooley) and Grand Rapids native James Voskuil playing important reserve roles.
The end of the era of Michigan dominating the in-state recruiting landscape came with the ouster of Fab Five and ’89 National-Championship team head coach Steve Fisher in 1997, not surprisingly coinciding with the early stages of Tom Izzo’s mega-successful regime at Michigan State getting off the ground in East Lansing.
Michigan has only signed two of the state’s Mr. Basketball-winners (Dion Harris in 2003 and Manny Harris in 2007) in the 16 years since Fisher, now at San Diego State, left Ann Arbor amid the booster scandal that eventually resulted in NCAA sanctions including probation and a vacating of the ’92 and ’93 Final Four appearances.
Beilein and his staff have made some recent strides in getting the local recruiting ship steered back in the right direction. They snagged Gatorade Player of the Year Award-winner Derrick Walton, Jr. (Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy) for their incoming recruiting class, someone being looked to by the program brass as the Wolvverines "point guard of the future," ready to assume floor-general duties from Burke upon him leaving for the NBA.