Guard development; a phrase thrown out by several recruits, parents, coaches and players when discussing Michigan’s basketball program under Coach John Beilein and his staff.
With two backcourt players selected in the first round of the NBA draft in 2013, the Wolverines will be able to claim one, possibly two more in 2014, with Nik Stauskas appearing to be a lock and Glenn Robinson III hoping to work his way into it.
Looking at Michigan and the success they’ve been able to have in recent years, not just individually but as a team as well, 2016 Gladstone (N.J.) Gill St. Bernard five-star shooting guard Tyus Battle, and his father Gary, are very impressed with the Wolverines approach, on and off the floor.
“I love Michigan, myself,” Battle’s father said. “The consistency shows how they’re really interested in Tyus. I kind of study how they recruit and they want a kid that’s kind of well balanced and they’re a faith based group, they believe in the Spirit of The Lord, which we do. I’m not saying it’s a part of their school but I think it’s important.
“Basketball wise, man; they’re fun to watch. Stauskas had a hell of a year this year, so did (Caris) LeVert, the young point guard, Glenn Robinson; they’re really impressive. I was actually shocked how well they played without (Mitch) McGary, they had those guys playing together, having fun.
“I think they were probably the most fun team to watch this year, at least for me. They’ve got guys around Tyus’ size, in that range, that play similar to Tyus, move the ball, play their game. Even that game against Kentucky was an exciting one.”
Though Michigan did fall short to the Wildcats in the Elite Eight, Battle says he keeps the replay of the game handy in case he wants to watch it again.
“It was fun to watch wasn’t it?” Battle’s father said. “I’ve got it on tape and watched it a couple times already. With the system they run, man, everybody touches the ball.
“I just like the way they all share the ball, that’s really big. If a guy is open he’s open, get him the ball no matter who he is, you got to show belief in him that he can knock it down and make big plays.”
For the 6-foot-5, 190-pound Battle, he looks at Michigan in the same light as his father.
“I just love how they let their players really play,” Battle said. “And the development of their players; Stauskas and LeVert really improved from last year to this year.
“I just love the way they play.”
The Huskies and Coach Kevin Ollie, fresh off an improbable run to a national championship, continue to impress the Battle’s as well after both Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright starred in the NCAA tournament.
“They had some really good guards,” Battle said. “And Coach Ollie is a really great guy.”
Battle’s father adding, “UConn is definitely a player for Tyus. They’ve done a good job and have an up and coming coach who is proving he can coach and develop and get guys to play together which is important. They’re pretty impressive I would say.”
With AAU season now back in full swing the Battle’s do still plan to get out on some unofficial visits this spring and summer, with one date already picked out with Michigan for their camp June 7.
“Yup, we’re still going to come (to Ann Arbor) for that,” Battle’s father said. “We’re also going to Virginia and we’ll definitely go to UConn cause UConn’s close so we’ll take a trip out there in the car it’s only a good three and a half hour ride for us.”
Making the visit along with the Battle’s will be 2016 Findlay Prep (Nev.) point guard Derryck Thornton Jr., a bonus to have his friend alongside as they both look to get a feel for the Michigan program.
“(I just want to) get a good feeling for the program and meet the coaches a little more,” Battle said. “Some of the players they’re recruiting like Derryck and them; I know Derryck well, so, it’s just going to be a good experience I think.”