‘He’s in great hands’: Papa Kante’s journey set for next chapter at Michigan

Papa Kante took two visits to Ann Arbor — the first in early June and the second just last weekend, overlapping with the Michigan-Penn State football game. 

And while the initial visit imprinted a strong first impression, the second visit sealed the deal. Thursday evening, Kante — a four-star center — committed to Michigan over Maryland, Rutgers, Pittsburgh and Memphis, becoming the first member of the Wolverines’ 2023 recruiting class. 

“When he came back when there were students and the team was there, well, Papa’s a watcher and a feeler,” Raphael Chillious, Kante’s high school coach at South Kent, told UM Hoops Friday. “He watched all of the interactions that the players were having, especially with Juwan, and that’s exactly what he’s looking for.” 

Kante paid close attention to Howard’s interactions in part because the pair had already forged a tight bond. Back in April, Chillious noted that Kante’s Michigan-related recruitment was “all Juwan,” an indication that Howard and his staff had zeroed in on Kante, making him a priority. 

Howard and Kante continued to talk frequently, seldom mentioning basketball — another sign to Kante that Howard was serious in his recruitment. 

“He’s just not a coach, he’s a mentor,” Chillious said. “Papa is very comfortable with him. He knows whatever Juwan is saying to him is authentic.” 

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