50 in 5: Recruiting, Coaching, and Rivalries

Evan Smotrycz Heating Up?


Scott Hazelton is reporting that Evan Smotrycz has recently been offered by Michigan.

On Monday, Michigan’s head coach Jim Beilein and Providence head coach Keno Davis visted New Hampton Prep to watch Smotrycz work out.   Coach Beilein has been followig Smotrycz from our summer trips to Las Vegas and California.  And after the workout Monday,  Coach Beilein assured Smotrycz that Michigan has a spot for him by offering the talented 6’9″ wingman a scholarship.

Michigan appears to have jumped headfirst into the middle of Evan’s recruitment and it seems like it could move quickly. Smotrycz did visit this fall so it’s not like his name came out of nowhere but I have to admit I hadn’t been following him that closely. Part of the reason is that it doesn’t seem like local newspapers tend to cover the NESPAC Prep league that well.

That being said it’s probably worth doing some preliminary reading. Home News Here recently posted a nice profile piece about Evan that breaks down this year, his history, and his recruitment.  You also might want to take a look at the ESPN scouting report if you skipped over it the last time that I linked it.

From what I have heard about Smotrycz, he has Beilein written all over him: Length, shooting, and ball handling ability in a 6-foot-9 body. That sounds like the perfect guy to play the four position or “power forward” in this offense. Beilein has been stingy in terms of who he offers and with limited scholarships; if he wants a kid you can bet that he really wants him.

Count the New England Recruiting Report as another fan:

One of the most accurate sayings we have ever heard about prep school basketball is this, “there is a fine line between exposure and exposed”.  So many players transfer to the NESCAC only to find their level of success reduced by the higher level of competition.  It was just the opposite for Smotrycz who raised his game to a new level in his first season at New Hampton.

The Coaching (and Recruiting) Carousel

john_calipariJohn Calipari is headed to Kentucky for almost $4 million per year. Of course Calipari doesn’t come without “the most powerful man in basketball”, William Wesley. Not to mention the troop of recruits that will likely follow including John Wall (1), Xavier Henry (3), DeMarcus Cousins (2) and many others.  I guess for that much money, you expect more than just a coach.

Henry writes over on TrueHoop that there are essentially no clean college basketball programs which may be true to an extent. But there is no denying the fact that Calipari runs one of the most ethically challenged. I would also argue without hesitation that John Beilein runs arguably one of the cleanest programs in the nation. This hire reminds me of Indiana hiring Kelvin Sampson — desperation can force you into tough situations, especially when you try to take shortcuts.

Speaking of questionable recruiting, recent allegations aren’t slowing down UConn head coach Jim Calhoun on the recruiting trail. The Huskies landed a commitment from Chicago guard Darius Smith this week. The head scratcher is that Smith never visited UConn and Calhoun has never seen him play. The folks over at Illinois Prep Bullseye call the recruitment one of the strangest they have seen:

Throughout Smith’s entire recruiting process, reliable sources told us that the Huskies had not offered Smith a scholarship and were looking at him solely as a backup option.  Not only that, but Smith has never set foot on the UConn campus.  We also know for a fact that to this point Huskie head coach Jim Calhoun has not seen him play.  All of which makes us wonder exactly how the deal with Smith went down.  Of course, no one is talking (and no one will) when it comes to that.

You be the judge.

Back on the Market?

Klay ThompsonTony Bennett is packing up his bags at Washington State and headed to Virginia.  One of Michigan’s top priorities from the class of 2008, Klay Thompson. Klay had a very solid freshman campaign at Washington State, he averaged 12.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 41.2% from three point range — all of this was good for Pac 10 All-Freshman honors and numerous Washington State freshman records.

Klay is understandably a bit shaken by his coache’s departure. Here’s what he had to say about Tony’s decision:

“I was so shocked,” freshman guard Klay Thompson told the newspaper. “But it’s life. I’ll adjust. As far as my future, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ll see who they’re going to bring in.”

It appears like his father, former NBA star Mychal Thompson, put an end to any transfer talk:

“Klay’s fine. He’s calmed down after the initial shock,” Thompson said. “I told him, you’re not going to go anywhere. Why would you go and sit out a year [in transferring]? You’ve got a nice nucleus with Marcus Capers and DeAngelo Casto.

Klay would be a perfect fit on the wing, but it doesn’t look like it’s worth getting your hopes up.

Big Ten Bashing

Michigan State’s Tom Izzo defends Big Ten’s style of play

Hearing Tom Izzo rip Digger Phelps and the rest of the national media made this one of the most enjoyable Tom Izzo clips I’ve ever watched.  He has a point and I think he lays it out pretty well. I’d love to go down the list a little bit more in detail but let’s just look at Michigan and Michigan State and how they performed in the tournament. Michigan isn’t really considered a defensive team but they held Clemson to 59 points, nearly twenty below their season average. Meanwhile Michigan State hasn’t given up 70 points yet in the NCAA tournament and just held Louisville to 52 points. Yes, my friends, defense is real and we play it in this conference.

In similar conference chest beating, Penn State manhandled Notre Dame in the NIT semifinal and they coincidentally held them to 59 points. Yes, this is the same Notre Dame team that was ranked #9 in both preseason polls and plays in the highly-esteemed Big East.

The Rivalry

I’ve written about the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry over at MGoBlog but I don’t have much of a problem with Beilein lending a helping hand, especially after listening to the Big Ten hate for the last two months. Beilein and his staff also shared their thoughts with the Free Press so it’s not like this is top secret information.

Warm and happy feelings aside, this kind of talk I could do without:

“We said we are the university in Michigan, and in six days we’re going to represent this entire state,” said Izzo, flanked by his wife and children.

I don’t know if Izzo just got a little excited in the midst of the victory celebrations in East Lansing but this statement is just foolish. There is no denying that Michigan State has the better basketball program but in no way are they the university in Michigan.

Apparently, Manny Harris wants to go to the Final Four, and he asked his old AAU teammates Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summer if they could help out:

Lucas and Durrell Summers both said a former teammate, Michigan’s Manny Harris, has been among the throng of friends asking for tickets.

“We’re definitely going to get him in there some kind of way,” Summers said. “If he wants a ticket, he has to throw on some Spartan gear.”

I don’t care if he gets some tickets but come on Manny, wear Maize and Blue.

Quick Notes

  • Brian was featured on John U. Bacon’s show on WTKA and shared his 2-cents about the future of journalism, MVictors has a podcast.
  • The Fab Five reunion event was canceled but now it is back on and has been moved.
  • David Cone needs to freestyle battle Brent Petway.
  • I need a name for everything in one posts like this one because I’m not completely sold on ’50 in 5′ (Beilein’s shooting drill) so let’s hear some suggestions in the comments.
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