Donte Grantham is officially in the home stretch in his recruitment. After seeing a rapid rise in his recruiting ranking and in scholarship offers in the last few months the Hargrave Military Academy star is down to two schools and will announce his decision on Friday. Michigan is one of the programs that made the cut thanks in large part to his official visit to Ann Arbor for Under the Lights two early last month.
“He was blown away,” said Hargrave Coach A. W. Hamilton. “He was absolutely blown away. It was an unbelievable atmosphere, but I think the biggest impression for him was just the coaching staff and Coach Beilein. He loved those guys and he got to spend time with the players up there. He kind of felt at home and I think that’s why at the end of the day it’s down to Michigan and it’s down to Clemson.”
Speculation that the Tigers have moved into the pole position for the four-star forward has run rampant in aftermath of his second visit to Clemson in a month’s time last weekend. For his part Hamilton warns against reading too much into that decision.
“What happened was he visited Clemson at the tail end of last (school) year, the beginning of the summer and there were no students there, there was no atmosphere, and there was no college environment,” Hamilton explained. “He went down (last month) for the Georgia game, but he only went down there for the game. His mom wanted to see that at Clemson because he was down to Clemson and Michigan. He saw that environment at Michigan. He was able to hang out with the players and staff and he was not able to do that at Clemson. So his mom wanted him to do that and that was the reason behind him going this past weekend.”
It was mom’s effort to create an apples to apples comparison for the two schools. Even so, some observers still may believe that having Grantham on campus last tips the scale in Clemson’s direction. But again Hamilton insists that Michigan’s position is every bit as good as its competition.
“(Michigan’s coaches have) all done a tremendous job,” Hamilton stated. “They’ve all worked together and they’ve all been down here. Coach Beilein has an unbelievable staff and it has been a pleasure to get to know those guys. I’ve known Coach Meyer for a long time and I’ve known Coach Beilein for a long time as well. I played at Marshall when he was at West Virginia, so I’m very familiar with Coach. And actually their strength coach over at Michigan was my strength coach when I played at Marshall, John Sanderson. So I know those guys and I think the world of them. They’ve got a great staff and great program. They’re competing for national titles now, so I’m super excited about them.”
With the in-person presentations now behind him Grantham has begun the process of comparing and contrasting the programs, and there’s a good chance he will have to use every second of his allotted time to make his choice.
“I think the reason why he is down to two is because obviously he feels comfortable with both staffs and both head coaches and he feels confident he can help both programs right away as a freshman. The biggest thing that he has got to decide this week is what he wants to be and where is he going to be happiest,” said Hamilton. “He has got two great schools, two great staffs, and two great head coaches that want him. He scratched a lot of schools off the list… Cincinnati, Miami, Florida, UCONN, West Virginia… the list goes on and on and he is down to these two. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be a tough week for him. He wants to take his time, he wants to pray about, and he wants to talk to his mom as much as he can this week and make the best decision."
Regardless of the school Grantham picks, Hamilton believes his star pupil will land in a situation in which he can thrive. On the flip side the school will be landing a player that is just scratching the surface of what he could be.
“He’s a terrific player… about 6-8, great body, very good athlete, and he is super skilled,” Hamilton said. “He shoots it at a high level, is a great passer, got a great basketball IQ. To sum him up, really he is just a winner. He won a state championship last year as a high school senior, this the summer he won an AAU national championship with DC Assault, so the kid just wins everywhere he goes.”
“He is making a transition from really a four/five to really a fulltime three for me. The way he has worked I can’t be more pleased with this kid. He listens, he is coachable, he is shooting at a high level now, he is catching the ball shot ready, and he is playing low to the ground. I think (Michigan would) use him at both the three and the four. Coach Beilein is one of the best coaches in the country. He is terrific at getting the best out of his players, so he has got a great vision for Donte and he has expressed that to Donte, myself, and Donte’s family. Donte will be in great hands if he picks Michigan.”