When Detroit Country Day star Alex Legion announced his plan to attend the University of Michigan yesterday, he figured it would generate a buzz. That, however, was not the case. "Buzz" could not begin to describe the reaction he witnessed. "My phone was ringing off of the hook," he said. "I got calls from guys that had graduated from Country Day and are at Michigan now. One of them was at a frat house and there was yelling and screaming in the background. They said they were going to have a party because I was coming! I couldn't believe it. Teachers students…people I hadn't heard from in years were calling me to tell me they were excited that I was going to Michigan."
Legion's decision to commit at this juncture was certainly unexpected, but for those that have been following his recruitment closely, it did not come as a complete surprise. Though Michigan had led for his services for quite some time, it wasn't until recently that he and his family began to make that claim publicly. It was no coincidence that this turn of events took place after his visit for the Penn State football game. He made it clear in an interview with GoBlueWolverine after that visit that Michigan had made a serious move.
"I arrived at my decision right after the Penn State game," Legion said. "We had made a visit that weekend and I just really enjoyed the campus and the things they had available to me as a student. I figured why go somewhere else when everything. I want is right here at home. Plus the academics are second to none and it is close where my family to see me play. Then, I have a great relationship with Coach Amaker. He has shown me how I will fit into his program and how Michigan would help me as a person first and player second."
Legion discussed his feelings about committing with his mother, Annette Williams and his coach/mentor/guardian Tim Green, but they advised him to wait a little while just to be sure. They didn't want the youngster to make a hasty decision. Privately, though, Green was hoping the young man he refers to as his son would stick with his choice."
"I was sick and tired of all the games that coaches and some media members play in regards to getting to the kids behind the parents backs," Green said. "I'm still tired of it. Why someone would think it was ok to talk to a kid without his parents approval is beyond me. These days you have to know who you're talking to, and as a parent, it's my responsibility to have that information. Some of these guys lack professionalism, or just plain common sense. It seems no one cares about etiquette or respecting a child's privacy anymore. That is unfortunate. It is all about getting the interview, and there is no integrity in that."
When Green learned that Alex had decided to stick with his decision, he breathed a sigh of relief. Shortly afterward he phoned the Michigan coaching staff to give them on the news. For a short time, there was disbelief on the other end of the line. "When we called the Michigan staff they thought we were joking," Green said. "It didn't take long before they knew we were serious. They were extremely happy about it. We just felt that it's a good fit for Alex. With what Amaker is trying to do on and off the court with these young men, there is no better place for him. Who was going to be in charge of developing Alex was important, and there wasn't anybody better than Tommy Amaker. His integrity as a coach and as person is impeccable. He is a great role model for the kids he is responsible for, his family, and the University of Michigan."
"We are closer to coach Amaker than any other coach that was on my list of schools," Legion added. "I really like the way he coaches and handles his players. You can make a mistake with him. He is a teacher. I feel like I can learn a lot from him both on and off of the court."
Legion's mother felt much the same way. "I want a strong mentor when my son goes to Michigan, and Coach Amaker will be that guy," she said. "I felt very comfortable with him and I have always liked his program. I gained a lot of respect for Coach Amaker and the way he handled the negative press about his team. I just feel like he can teach Alex a lot."
If those feelings for Amaker were what got them on Michigan's hook, the relationship that they forged with new assistant Coach Mike Jackson was what reeled them in. In a very short time, the Detroit native won over Legion and his family. "Me and Coach Jackson are real cool," Alex said. "We talk about life, academics, family, the things that I should be doing to help me become a better person and basketball player...we talk about almost everything. He's a guy that's still young so he can relate. I feel real comfortable with Coach Jack."
Both Green and Ms. Williams saw the bond Jackson had formed with their son, and that ultimately sealed the deal. "I really like Coach Jackson's relationship with Alex," Ms Williams said. "He is like a big brother to him, and he is real down to earth."
"Mike Jackson was the key element in getting Alex's recruitment done early," Green added. " I just think Jack did that good of a job recruiting Alex. He made us feel more comfortable towards the hoops program and he was someone I could talk to and relate to."
Be sure to check back tomorrow for our Alex Legion photo gallery
and Part 2 of this story. In it he discusses the influence
of a number of players on his choice…including the encouraging words he
received from Chris Webber.