After a little over a year in the south Florida sun, former Detroit Country Day power forward Donnavan Kirk is ready to return to his Midwest roots. The redshirt freshman was limited by injuries to only four games during his true freshman campaign last year, and saw only 9.5 minutes per game in 16 contests this year, but neither issue is responsible for his decision to return home.
"What happened is right now we have some family issues and some personal issues as far as with my family and I want to get back closer to my mom," Kirk explained. "I just want to be there for her with what's going on right now."
"I don't regret anything about being at Miami," he continued. "I feel like I learned a lot. I got to work with a great developer that did an unbelievable job with my game… which is Bret Burman down here. Also I worked with a great trainer down here. I met a lot of great people and experienced a lot of great things."
Despite averaging only 2.7 points and 1.6 rebounds per game this season and 2.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game last year, the former four star prospect insists his game has grown in the days since he was ranked the #23 power forward in the 2009 class.
"Back in high school I was really more of a post player," said Kirk. "I'm really more of a face-up guy now. I can take two, three dribbles to the basket better and I can shoot it better. I extended my range out to the three-point line. Of course I'm a lot stronger and more physical than it was. I've (always) been good with the jump hook… and I have right hand/left shoulder now."
Coaches from across the country would likely find that combination of skills in a 6-9, 227-pounder appealing, but only Michigan, Oakland, DePaul, Northwestern, and Central Michigan are currently under consideration.
"I'm supposed to be talking to Michigan on Saturday," Kirk reported. "I come back to Michigan Saturday. They talked to my coach and expressed an interest. I know about their system. I know (Beilein) likes to move his bigs around and get them going. I've seen them play. I watched DeShawn Sims play when he was playing there. I think it's an offense that could really really work. That school has a chance. Coach Beilein is a great coach, he is building a good program over there, and I respect it. I'm definitely interested in taking a visit there. I know they can play. The system is suited for people that can play basketball… for players that aren't one-dimensional. (Plus) Jordan (Dumars) is my longtime friend (and former high school teammate). That increases the comfort level, and the comfort level is always huge."
"Oakland is also great. I like Oakland a lot. They clearly are improving. They have great coaches and they are great at developing players. I want to develop my game as well. You see what they did with Keith Benson. He's going to be a first round pick. I'm pretty sure they're going to make it to the tournament this year, which is huge. I like that it's close to my home, so I'd be there to support my mom as well."
"Central Michigan is another school on a run. They've got Trey Zeigler there and they're building something in the MAC. I plan on taking a visit. I'm not quite sure about anything over there yet. I've never really been to Central Michigan or seen it at all."
"DePaul is another great situation because they've got Coach Purnell there. He's a good coach and I like the way he plays. He gets up and down. You see what he did with (former Clemson standout, Trevor) Booker. He was a face-up four, and he is in the league getting paid. Like I said, that is another great situation."
"Northwestern is another great situation… (laughter)… both academically and athletically. I don't know if you know or not, but Northwestern has three NBA GMs that graduated from there. That says a lot. They're definitely developing a lot more than just basketball players over there. I've been told how is there, but I want to see how it is. I'm going to take visit there as well very soon."
Kirk has a very small window of time to select one of the aforementioned programs. He plans to enroll for the winter term so he can become eligible next January and have 2.5 years of eligibility remaining, so time is of the essence.
"This is going to be wrapped up soon… probably by next week," said Kirk of his decision timeline. "The visits are all mapped out already. It's going to be a crazy week with that schedule. After I see the schools I'll evaluate them. I like to do the pos/cons thing. When it's all said and done I'm going to sit down and see who's the best. Life after basketball is a big question in my head. So is comfort level and how am I going to be able to develop as a basketball player because I love the game and I want to get better at it. I'm going to look at him playing time and coaching style. How is the coach's communication (skills)? Those things will be huge for me."
Stay tuned for more on Donnavan Kirk in the coming days.