Listening to Michigan coach John Beilein discuss the transformation of college basketball and just how much the responsibilities of post players has changed over the years, it's easy to see why the 35 year coaching veteran and his staff are looking for big men that can do more than just finish inside. With the pick and roll putting so much stress on defenses, along with high paced play offensively, athleticism and stamina, is a must.
In the class of 2015, not many exemplify this idea of versatility at the four or five position than Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman high school five-star center, Stephen Zimmerman.
A true 7-0 and 215 pounds, Zimmerman helped lead Gorman to a state championship in his sophomore year, one year removed from a meniscus tear that kept him out of the title game his freshman season, eventually forcing him to miss the summer evaluation period on the AAU circuit last summer.
"I think this year was great because this year I got to be a captain and kids that just got on the team kind of looked up to me because I've been on the team before," Zimmerman told GoBlueWolverine. "It was really fun helping the team win state. Last year I couldn't say that I helped the team win state but this year it was a great honor to be a part of it."
This past weekend at the Adidas Exclusive Run in Dallas, Zimmerman admitted the adjustment, switching from high school ball back to the style and competitiveness of AAU, takes a game or two to get fully acclimated. Once back in the swing of things, Zimmerman helped lead his 17's Dream Vision squad to a tournament championship, notching 22 points, 13 rebounds, and five blocks to secure the title.
FOXSportsNEXT.com National Recruiting Analyst Evan Daniels had this to say on Zimmerman following Exclusive Run:
"At the Exclusive Run, he broke out from an offensive standpoint," Daniels wrote. "He's much more skilled than I realized and can score the ball in a variety of ways. On the block, he has a handful of moves, maneuvers well around defenders, and is effective over his right shoulder. Zimmerman can also step out and hit mid-range jump shots."
Based on Zimmerman's range of ability, Michigan is one of the schools in consistent contact, spotted courtside over the weekend. Wolverine assistant lavall jordan has continued to build on his strong bond with Zimmerman over the past year, connecting on the phone as recently as Monday evening.
"It was great," said Zimmerman. "He's a really great person. I like talking to the people from Michigan. They're like me. It seems like a great program and they want me to go on an unofficial down there sometime this summer. And I think we're going to."
Zimmerman is unsure of when he'll make the trip to Ann Arbor this summer to check out Michigan's program but with June 15th nearing, he says he's very comfortable with how the Wolverines go about the process.
"They told me that they like their recruits to come to campus first before they offer them," said Zimmerman. "Because they don't want to offer somebody and then maybe don't like the campus. So they want the recruits to come out to the campus first to see how everything is and then they'll offer him.
"But I think it's a great choice to do that, just to be on the safe side with recruits."
Looking back on Michigan's run to the national championship game in the NCAA tournament, Zimmerman admitted, "I was rooting for them," referring to the Wolverines. The use and emergence of center Mitch McGary in that six game stretch sticks out to Zimmerman, something he's very familiar with.
"I can see myself doing that stuff," said Zimmerman. "At Dream Vision, we run the same play that they run where Mitch comes up to the three point line to catch it, and he can lead where to go, pass the ball up, and it's a great play. It really worked for us this weekend and it seemed like he played the position really well. That was my role so I was looking for that a lot."
Still a ways away from any decision on his college future, Zimmerman says he hasn't yet had a conversation with good friend and fellow 2015 recruit, Corona (Calif.) Centennial high school point guard Sedrick Barefield about potentially teaming up at the next level -- but it's on his mind.
"I've been thinking about it," said Zimmerman. "If I do go I'm definitely going to talk to somebody like Sed, or Sed, and see if we can both go and make it work for each other."
Zimmerman currently holds offers from Arizona, Connecticut, Kansas, Oregon, UCLA, UNLV, and his most recent, USC.
5-star center Stephen Zimmerman to visit U-M
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