Bball Assistants Roundtable – Part 7

GoBlueWolverine's Sam Webb goes in-depth with Michigan basketball assistants Bacari Alexander, Jeff Meyer, and LaVall Jordan during their annual roundtable session. The seventh and final part focuses on newcomers Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Aubrey Dawkins, and 2015 & 2016 recruiting strategy.

Sam Webb:  The two late adds… Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Aubrey Dawkins.  You guys have grown very comfortable with adjusting on the fly, identifying talent and we saw it most recently with Caris LeVert and Spike.  What about the two guys that you added to the fold late this year?

lavall jordan:  “Really excited about the long term potential for these two young men, Muhammad is a winner.  You take a kid and you can’t ignore a young man’s history.  Trey Burke won a state championship in high school.  Caris LeVert state championship in high school, so it is something that we look for.  Muhammad led his team as a senior to a 29-1 record.  So he is just a proven winner.  He has got a big chip on his shoulder.  He is a really, really good ball handler that can get in the paint.  He can make shots.  He makes big shots in big games, so we can't wait to get him on campus and begin to work with him and watch and see where he grows and how he develops.”

Sam Webb:  Aubrey, what gaps does Aubrey fill in as far as what you guys do?

Bacari Alexander:  “Here’s a high IQ kid, who at 6’6”, where as he was listed as 6’4” all over the internet.  I was expecting a shorter player.  When he came in for his visit with us, here he stands at 6’6” and very athlete, along the lines of Glenn Robinson with regards to his ability to make plays above the rim.  Being the son of a coach, understands the game on a conceptual level, will be able to give us a solid role player and may ascend to even beyond on that in the sense that he is a wing player, defensive versatility, can go traffic rebounds, has range to three.  He also understands offense and how it is played, where I should be, when I should be there, how to set the screen, moving without the basketball.  He came from a great program in New Hampton.  He played in the league that boasts Brewster Academy and others, who is really good.  Some of the coaches throughout that league has given very favorable reviews about Aubrey, so we’re excited about his development and his future.”

Sam Webb:  I want to close with a few general recruiting questions because you guys can't get specific.  Generally speaking, when you look ahead at where you were talking about finishing off in 2014.  We talked to Coach Beilein and he said, you guys are always on the hunt for potential transfer candidates.  In the 2015, as far as what you feel like position wise you need in that 2014-2015 year compared to 2016 when you look out in the horizon, I know you guys have done a great job of planting seeds in that class.  What holes do you feel that you have to fill in 2014/2015 and how do you play a bird in the hand versus two in the bush game as coaches?  You look down the line and say wow, I think we look really good with these guys down the line, but there are some guys here more immediately that we might be pretty good with.  How do you play that game?  Do you play, hey we’re going to hold some scholarships for that year or do you just say, hey we got some guys here and now and we’re going to after the here and now.

Jeff Meyer:  “This is what we love about you Sam.  You give your listeners really in depth insight to the picture of recruiting.  It is a two year picture.  We have because of the fact that we added these kids this year and it is a large recruiting class in 2014, we do have some flexibility, which is a good thing moving forward.  Certainly, we as a staff talk every day about our roster and then about what we see in 2014-15 and beyond.  That discussion will entail a lot about what you just alluded to.  What are our biggest needs?  The reality of it is, as we move into June and July, the kids step on campus in July.  We’re going to learn more about this current group in July.  We’re very, very fortunate with a young team.  We don’t use that word a lot.  We talk about this is college basketball today, every team, if you’re going to be you are going to be young because of the attrition.  We have a foreign tour this year.  We’re going to find out a lot about this group, the 2014 team moving forward in July and August.  In that sense, it will clear up the picture that you’re talking about moving forward.  It is an everyday topic of discussion/conversation.  It is exciting because we feel very, very fortunate to be a part of Michigan basketball at this point and time and moving forward, we feel like the best is yet to come.”

Sam Webb:  You guys had two first round draft picks last year.  You’re probably going to have a couple of more this year.  Is that resonating with kids, with parents, with coaches out on the trail?  You can look across the country, certainly across this league, Michigan is doing a pretty good job, doing a pretty comparable job of putting guys in the first round compared to some of these other teams out there.

Bacari Alexander:  “Setting the NBA aside just for a second.  The deep NCAA tournament runs has really spoken well nationally for people, in markets and places whether you talk from the corner of Florida, all the way up to the state of Washington and what has been talked about more consistently than anything Sam, is the development of the players.  NBA draft picks are a byproduct of the sweat equity that takes place in our program.  Coach Beilein devising a system that alludes to the fact there is freedom with responsibilities and it resonates to our guys.  You talk about the former players who have enjoyed success; Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr., now we talk about Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson, Mitch McGary and even Jordan Morgan, other young prospects can see themselves at a place like Michigan.  It is bigger than the nice uniforms and our great fight song.  It is a vision for their development, a vision for their future.  Then when you talk about the recruiting picture being a two year span, more than anything else positionally, we’re looking for the right fit that mimic our core values.  We believe at Michigan in all of our sports, culture plus talent wins and we want to continue to stick to that template moving into the future.”

Sam Webb:  Val I’m going to give you the final word, this recruiting bounce, I like to call it… a lot of fans feel like, wow, when are we seeing a bounce? 

LaVall Jordan:  “Yeah I think when you talk recruiting, you are talking fit, like BA said need and then timing.  We’ve got to find that fit, that fit for Michigan, that fit our system, that fit our core values.  There has got to be a need at the position and timing, it falls into it a lot.  You look at Caris LeVert, Spike Albrecht, it was a matter of timing and then trying to vet them and them doing their evaluation on us and making sure it is the right fit.  Trey Burke, the timing of it, we had a foreign tour looming on the horizon that season.  We had a couple of practices after seeing Trey in late July and August 1st and August 2nd and as a staff we sit down and talk about it.  We need a point guard to come in.  We didn’t anticipate going, but we needed another ball handling guard that can make plays.  So we started the Trey Burke recruitment.  That is more of it than anything with the two year window and looking for the right fits and trying to figure out what you need and then timing plays into it more than what people think.  As we go out and try to project and try to evaluate that what we’re looking for was a staff.”

Bacari Alexander:  “It is interesting, the other day I was speaking to a prospect and he was expressing all of the bevy of schools that are recruiting him.  The ‘Blue Bloods’, the top ten schools and I told the young man something that I would hope would resonate with all recruits out there and their parents.  It’s great to be recruited by some of the best, but now in 2014, consider doing something new Go Blue! (laughter)”

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