Six months ago Michigan wasn’t on Brendan Bailey's list. At that point a coaching change had prompted the American Fork (Utah) star to decommit from Arizona State and reconsider many of the schools he had formed prior relationships with. It wasn’t until John Beilein reached out to the talented youngster in April that his interest in Michigan was sufficiently piqued.
A summer in-home visit and then a trimming down of his list to a quintet that included the Maize & Blue followed. Even so, Michigan still appeared to be trailing Marquette, San Diego State, Utah, and Gonzaga. It wasn’t his official visit to Ann Arbor a few weeks ago that the Wolverines began to pose a serious threat to become the victor.
“It was awesome,” Bailey said regarding his trip to the Great Lake State. “I got to spend a lot of time with the players, I saw all of the facilities, and got to know the coaching staff really good. We went to the Michigan/BYU football game. It was just really cool to get to know the coaching staff a little better and meet with the players. I was with Kam Chatman a lot, the big foreign kid named Mo, and the kid they got from the D-III school, Duncan (Robinson). I was with the whole team, but those are the guys I was around the most.”
There was one person Bailey was with even more than that. Beilein has been the point-man in Michigan’s pursuit of Bailey from the beginning and continued in the vein during the visit by showing his prized target a great deal of personal attention.
“We sat down in his office and he showed video of his team and he showed me where I would fit in,” Bailey recalled. “I liked what I saw because they run a lot and they try to get the quickest best shot they can find. That was good to see. And I think I fit really good into how they run their offense. I can really stretch the floor with my shooting ability. That’s what I’m known for… outside shooting. But I also like to run… to get up and down the floor… to beat my defender down the floor and get a lot of fast break buckets.”
The meeting, while impactful, was merely a confirmation of many of the things Bailey suspected heading into the visit. Looking back on the experience he was more taken by the positive Michigan attributes that he was totally unaware of.
“I didn’t know how big of a university it was,” said Bailey. “I knew that all of their athletics were (among the best) in the country, but I didn’t know the academic side of the school was also (amongst) the top in the country. So it was cool to see both sides of the university.
“(What stood out the most) was probably the atmosphere… just how involved everybody is with the school and the athletics. When I went to the football game I was with the players and we couldn’t take three steps without someone asking to take pictures with the players. I thought that was really cool just how much they’re involved with the whole school and the community. So I thought the atmosphere was really good also.”
Needless to say Michigan definitely improved its chances in the race for Bailey’s services, but exactly how much remains to be seen. He will take one last official visit to Gonzaga this weekend, and then the serious deliberation begins.
“I’m not going to take too much time after that visit to make a decision, but I’m going to have to put a lot of thought into it because it’s really a big decision,” said Bailey. “I’ll probably sit down, talk it over with my family, and just decide where I think will be the best fit for me is.”
“(It will come down to) mostly how I fit in with their system, and how they would develop me as a player and try to get as much out of me as they possibly can. Also just the people I’m going to be surrounded by because I’m going to be with them for a while… my teammates and the coaching staff… how acquainted I am with them.”