Heading into the opening games of Spiece Run-N-Slam 2013 in Fort Wayne, Indiana Friday night, several teams ran into some disastrous, time-consuming rush hour traffic. The Milwaukee Running Rebels and five-star power forward Kevon Looney were among them, leaving little to no time to get loose, stretch, or get shots up prior to the 8:15 tip.
“Long van ride,” Looney told GoBlueWolverine laughing. “We kind of got lost a little bit and came out sluggish. Just had to get warmed up.”
Looney came out with 10 first half points, doing most of his damage at the free throw line. In the second half, the full repertoire of his ability was on display as Looney finished the night with 28 points and five blocks, finding the open man when the defense collapsed, and utilizing his length and touch for easy put backs on the offensive glass.
“That’s my claim to fame,” said Looney. “If I can’t get anything going off the dribble I just got to go rebound and I was able to do that.
“My coach always has me practicing every position in practice. In drill work I do a lot of ball handling, drive and kick, just for moments like this.”
Capable of filling multiple roles for the Running Rebels, including a developing three-point shot, something Looney says he’s been practicing a lot, the 6-9 forward has John Beilein and the Michigan Wolverines very interested in adding another versatile piece to a program back in the national spotlight after coming seven points shy of an NCAA championship.
“I talk to coach Beilein and coach Vall -- coach Vall has been the main one recruiting me,” said Looney. “I talk to them on a pretty steady basis. They seem very interested and they went to the final four.
“I like their style of play. I think I could fit in pretty good with them. It’s sort of like the way we play. It’s open and everybody can be aggressive when they want to.”
Looney witnessed what Michigan was capable of first hand, making the trip down to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta with four of his teammates to watch the Wolverines do battle in the Final Four. Though his relationship has picked up with Michigan in the aftermath of their tournament success, in Looney’s eyes, the interest was already there.
“You always want to go to a team that’s winning,” he said. “They were always pretty good to me, it was just adding more to the recruitment.”
Michigan’s youth was discussed and pointed to at length from national and local media throughout this past season, questioning whether a collection of so many freshmen and sophomores could get it done on the big stage. The Wolverines proved they were mature enough to handle the spotlight and perform under it, something Looney is paying close attention to.
“I played against Glenn Robinson and big Mitch (McGary) when I was a freshman,” said Looney. “I played against those guys.
“When you see a freshman succeed in the program you can see yourself doing the same thing so it’s a great help in my recruitment.”
Looney is hoping to make it up to Ann Arbor for a visit to Michigan but says his entire visit schedule depends on when his father can take the time off of work. So far, Looney has taken trips to Tennessee, and in-state schools, Wisconsin, and Marquette.
Duke, Florida, Michigan State, Stanford, Georgetown, Wisconsin, and Tennessee, all schools, including Michigan, he says are coming after him the hardest, Looney plans to have a top five narrowed down at the end of July. As for when a decision could come, Looney admitted he and his parents had discussed ending his recruitment in September, but added he could take more visits in the fall if he’s not ready.
Either way, Michigan, and several other schools for that matter, can fit into the model of what Looney is looking for.
“I’m looking at style of play, a place where freshman can succeed at, great coaching staff, and a winning program,” he said.
“Sometimes you just know what schools you want to see too. And, of course, the coaching staff that can impress my parents too. My parents play a big role in my decision. If my parents like it, I’ll probably go see it.”