When John Beilein took the Cleveland Cavaliers’ job 14 months ago, sending the Michigan basketball program into a momentary state of paralysis, Saddi Washington kept working.
As Warde Manuel desperately scrambled to replace Beilein, the Wolverines’ 2019 recruiting class was thrust into turmoil just weeks before it would arrive on campus. But that wasn’t where the uncertainty ended. During the critical late-spring recruiting period, Michigan couldn’t afford 10 days of silence on its 2020 and 2021 classes as Manuel conducted his coaching search.
So, even with his own future uncertain, Washington worked the phones and traveled to showcases, providing a much-needed bridge from Beilein to the nascent Juwan Howard era. “Saddi has all the boxes checked,” Steve Finamore, a Lansing-area high school coach, told me then. “Obviously he has a relationship with all the players.”
More than a year later, it paid off, with four-star shooting guard Kobe Bufkin becoming Howard’s third 2021 commitment.
“They are not only going to get a great kid, they are going to get a great student, they are going to get a great player,” Sean Moore, Bufkin’s AAU coach with The Family, said. “(Michigan) might as well pop a bottle because they got a great kid in the making.”