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Midwest Recruiting: Wojciechowski and Marquette are big winners in Detroit recruiting game

By: Tom Markowski, April 9, 2017, 11:07 am

(PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Donoher)


Detroit – Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski was the clear-cut winner for the top players in Michigan this recruiting season.

Wojciechowski signed Mr. Basketball finalist Jamal Cain of Detroit Cornerstone and U-D Jesuit post player Ike Eke in November then received a commitment from another Mr. Basketball finalist, Greg Elliott of Detroit East English Village Prep on April 4.

Lest we not forget that the Duke graduate and Mike Krzyzewski protégé came close to signing Xavier Tillman from Grand Rapids Christian. Tillman signed with Michigan State and Marquette was the school that came in second.

There’s no question that signing Tillman is a feather in coach Tom Izzo’s hat and by signing Mr. Basketball winner Isaiah Livers of Kalamazoo Central is a big plus for coach John Beilein and his Michigan program, Marquette remains the school that came away with a more impressive haul.

It wasn’t so much as an eye-opener that Eke chose Marquette. Marquette, like U-D, is a Jesuit school and Marquette was the most high-profile school that offered Eke a scholarship. Furthermore, Eke is still a bit of an unknown quantity. At 6-8, Eke is a strong inside player who, like most players his size, continues to develop. Statistically, Eke was not an outstanding high school player. Physically he is impressive. And one cannot overlook that he played on a winning program, one that won the Class A title in 2016, reached the semifinals the season before and the quarterfinals this past season.

What turned heads in this state was that fact that Marquette was able to land a player from a Detroit charter school and another from a school that competes in the Detroit Public School League. Both Cain and Elliott received scholarship offers from other big-time programs so for Marquette to get both is quite a coup.

This is a school that in the past has not made Michigan, and the Detroit area specifically, a priority. It helped that Cain and Elliott have been good friends for nearly a decade.

Although Wojciechowski would not talk about Elliott specifically, due to NCAA rules with regards to unsigned players, he did praise Cain and Eke directly.

“They are high caliber kids,” Wojciechowski said. “They fit into our system.

“I recruited Cassius Winston but I have not exclusively recruited in Detroit.”

Marquette recruits nationally. It’s a program that reached the Final Four under Tom Crean, the former Indiana coach and Izzo assistant, and won a National title in 1977 and was runner-up in ‘74.

Wojciechowski said he’s well aware of the fine talent that Michigan has but, until recently, he and his staff hadn’t made it a priority.

“If these kids have success here then, hopefully, others will be attracted,” he said.

East English coach Juan Rickman said Elliott’s decision was not an easy one. It came down to three schools, Marquette, MSU and Providence.

“I didn’t have a problem with him going to any one of the three schools,” Rickman said. “Marquette starting recruiting him in December and when Izzo came to see him he offered him (a scholarship) on the spot. (Coach) Ed Cooley is an incredible guy at Providence and of course izzo is fantastic.

“(Elliott) felt most comfortable with the coaching staff at Marquette and he and Jamal are close friends. Those are the biggest two reasons. And he wanted to get away.”