Bizoukas Ready to Sign

The signing period for National Letters of Intent for the hoops class of 2007 begins Wednesday. Munster, Indiana point guard Michael Bizoukas knows which school he will be signing with. This summer Bizoukas verbally committed to Northern Iowa and recently reopened his recruitment. Did the 6-1 point guard pick Northern Iowa or did a new school enter the picture? Get the details in this report.

Michael Bizoukas thought that he had reached his decision on where he will attend college next year. Bizoukas orally committed to Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson back in August. In late October, he opened things back up to pursue hopes of perhaps playing at a level of ball higher than the Missouri Valley. He immediately received interest from Ball State, Bowling Green, DePaul, Loyola-Chicago, Nevada, Nebraska, St. Louis, and SMU.

Bizoukas has decided to pursue that dream of playing in a high-major conference and will sign with the DePaul Blue Demons and coach Jerry Wainwright. Mike joins Mac Koshwal, Matija Poscic, and Darquavis Tucker in the class of 2007 for DePaul.

The 6-1 point guard from Munster visited DePaul University in Chicago on Saturday, November 4th and took in the exhibition game against Lewis University on Saturday night. After the game he told Wainwright that he wanted to be a Blue Demon.

"He had a great visit," said Bizoukas' father Nick. "He liked everything about it. He likes Coach Wainwright. The situation with them was they were waiting on Derrick Rose and they needed a point guard in the class. They had Mike on their short list since the spring. They just became involved once he opened his recruitment back up. They had to recruit their big guys, which they did really well obviously."

The whole Bizoukas family was able to spend the entire day in Lincoln Park. "We were there and got a chance to watch a shootaround in the morning and also got to spend some time with Coach Wainwright," said Nick. "Mike wanted to make sure that they really wanted him. He had a pretty good setup potentially at Northern Iowa. But, his dream has always been to play in one of the major conferences. That's kind of where opening his recruitment stemmed from. There was a lot of scuttlebutt that he could play at the high major level. So that's why we decided to open it up and something came through."

"Going in to Saturday, he was excited about the DePaul situation, but he really didn't know what to expect," said Munster high school coach Mike Hackett. "But then when I talked to him after spending the day at DePaul, he was sold on the idea. He liked the campus. He liked the coaching staff. He met some of the players. He liked the idea of playing in the Big East. He feels like his game suits what they kind of need or what they might be missing. He feels like he's going to have a chance to go there and compete for some playing time. Like I said going into Saturday, he had some questions that needed to be answered and they got answered. He's real excited and real positive about the whole situation."

Bizoukas played his AAU ball this year with the CAPS All-Stars. "He's the ultimate point guard," said CAPS coach Eric Cole. "He's very good at getting in the lane and kicking the ball and getting guys the ball in the right spots. Everybody loves playing with Mike. They can't say enough about his play-making abilities and how he just makes the game so much easier for them to play. Angel Garcia, who's on our AAU team, and Brandon Wood, who's going to Southern Illinois, they just love playing with Mike. He's a very hard worker, a great leader on the floor, off the court you're never going to have any issues, he's a 4.0 (GPA) student and a good citizen. He's the type of kid that will drive the other kids to work as hard as him."

Mike's high school coach gives a similar description. "As a player, he is something that you don't see much of anymore – a pure point guard," said Hackett. "He's just excellent at getting the ball where it needs to be, when it needs to be there. He's excellent at making his teammates better by just creating things for them. He's an extremely tough kid, tough as nails. He doesn't back down from anything or anybody. Whether you're winning by 20 or losing by 20, whether it's the first minute of the game or the last minute of the game, you can't tell by his effort. His effort is all out, all the time."

With this recruiting class, Jerry Wainwright is no doubt looking for more speed on offense. "Mike favors more of an open court uptempo type game where he can get in seams, get in the lane, and create some stuff for others," said Hackett.

"His greatest strength is his ballhandling and playmaking ability," Hackett evaluated. "His work ethic is just amazing. It's hard to describe, I'm spoiled the last four years just being around him. He just has an unbelievable work ethic."

What player is Bizoukas most similar to? Well both coaches see similarities to a certain NBA Most Valuable Player. "He's a Steve Nash-type player," Cole observed. "Obviously there's only one Steve Nash. He's that type of player where he just gets people involved and makes the team better. I know DePaul's had some issues with the point guard spot. When the ball goes through the net, if you get it to him, he'll drive it right back up your throat. So the defense always has to be on their toes."

Mike Hackett agreed. "You know how Nash is always pushing the ball, and making his teammates run with him, and getting in the lane, and kicking it out," said Hackett. "Not so much from the scoring standpoint, but as a playmaking standpoint, he's a lot like Steve Nash."

Shooting is one area that Mike needs to improve upon. "He needs to keep shooting," Cole said. "He's doing a lot better. He's been working out six days a week. He just needs to keep shooting a thousand jump shots a day, which he's doing."

"He's gotten a lot better at shooting the ball better from outside," Hackett stated. "He still can improve. It's more of a confidence thing than anything."

As for the early commitment to Northern Iowa, perhaps Mike was hurried into that. "He may have rushed into the decision," said Cole. "These schools put a lot of pressure on guys to commit early. At the end of the day, he's looking to play in a higher conference. Not to take anything away from the Missouri Valley, it's a great, great league. It's just that this is an opportunity to compete at a higher level, game in and game out."

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