There have been more popular signings in IU basketball history than recent addition Guy-Marc Michel, but the junior college transfer might be a better signing than Hoosier fans think.
On Saturday, Indiana announced that the 7'1", 265-pound North Idaho College center had signed his IU letter of intent, adding his name to a 2010 class that already features wings Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey. While there were plenty that were pleased with the addition of Michel to the Hoosier roster, there was also a segment of the Hoosier fan base that are skeptical he'll contribute any more than last year's overseas big men Tijan Jobe and Bawa Muniru.
Truth be told, that's an unfair characterization based primarily on the fact all three are big men from overseas. IU Coach Tom Crean certainly appears excited about big man's arrival.
"I am glad (IU Assistant Coach) Steve (McClain) is the relentless recruiter that he is because this is another example of him going against the grain to find a real prospect," Crean said. "I know how excited Steve has been about Guy and we all feel the same way. Our players are very excited to add Guy to our Indiana program."
The players who are probably most excited are Christian Watford, Bobby Capobianco and Derek Elston, a trio of freshmen who were called on to defend the post in their debut seasons. Michel's arrival gives Indiana a legitimate shot-blocking center who can allow that trio to spend more time manning the small forward and power forward positions as opposed to the paint.
"He automatically upgrades our program on the defensive end with his shot blocking and post defense," Crean said.
There are also noteworthy differences between Michel and last year's Hoosier centers. In Muniru's case, Michel is a couple of years older and much more experienced. While the Scenic West Athletic Conference isn't about to be confused with the Big Ten, Michel is more prepared physically to deal with Big Ten centers.
In Jobe's case, the two players' junior college resumes stand in stark contrast. While Michel averaged a relatively modest 7.1 points per game, he led his team in rebounding (7.3) and the conference in blocked shots (3.1) for the second consecutive season. Jobe, by comparison, averaged 4.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and less than 15 minutes per game at Olney (Ill.) Junior College.
Another benefit of Michel's arrival is the fact he is a two-year player, which gives Indiana added flexibility with the critical 2012 recruiting class. The Hoosiers are now slated to have four scholarships open for that class (Michel, Verdell Jones, Tom Pritchard, Matt Roth), and it's quickly becoming clear that it's that class that could be key in catapulting the Hoosier program back to the forefront.
Michel might or might not prove to be a legitimate back-to-the-basket scoring presence, and it's unlikely he'll single-handedly re-establish the IU program as a Big Ten title contender. But indications are that he can do his part in IU's rebuilding project, and that he's a better signing than some might be willing to admit.
Michel's Signing Better Than Some Might Think
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