The praise for the Michigan coaching staff by Alex Legion and his family in the days since he made his commitment has been plentiful. The impression made by Amaker and company on the young man was clearly too much for the other programs on his list to overcome. While it is clear that the majority of the credit for landing such an important prospect should go to the staff, Legion also singled out a few Michigan players (past, present, and future) that also played instrumental roles in his decision.
The pariah status Chris Webber is still alive and well in the hearts and minds of many Michigan fans. There are, however, those that still hold the former Wolverine star in high regard, and Alex Legion is one of them. GoBlueWolverine was on hand for one of many late-summer workouts that Webber participated in with the Detroit Country Day basketball team. According to Legion, it was during those times that Webber made it clear where he thought the youngster should go.
"Chris' brother Jason would be working out with us, and he would always talk to me about Michigan State," Legion recalled. "But Chris stepped in and told me that Michigan was where I needed to go. He talked a lot about the great academics there, and coming from place like Country Day with a academic background, he knows that's very important. He said that there is no place like Michigan. He talked about all the alumni connections I would have if I went there. He also talked about how much he enjoyed being there and how much he thought I would enjoy it too. He had nothing but positive things to say about Michigan. He wasn't trying to pressure me. He was just giving me advice. I am glad he did because it helped me a whole lot."
GBW was on hand when Legion and Smith squared off last year
Smith's presence in Ann Arbor certainly made suiting up in the Maize and Blue a more appealing scenario, but it was the commitment of Deshawn Sims that really took the appeal of playing for Michigan to another level. The Pershing star's playing ability combined with his negative recruiting experiences were extremely influential in convincing Scout.com's 11th ranked prospect to end his process a little earlier than expected. "Deshawn going to Michigan was big for me for a few reasons," Legion said. "I watched the way things went down in his recruitment, and I didn't like a lot of what went on. It can be a distraction. By committing now, I don't have to deal with all of that and I can concentrate on academics and my season. Plus, he is one of the best players in the country. Together, I think we can do big things there. I feel like when I do get up there, guys like Jerret and Deshawn will look out for me."
For Legion's mother, the fact her son is so familiar with his future teammates is very comforting. "The guys that Al will be playing with… he already knows some of them," she said. "It will be like he is playing with family. That will allow him to have the best chance to grow."
With his decision now out of the way, most of his attention can be focused on that growth. His basketball game is already very mature for his age, but he understands that there is still room for improvement. "Most people feel I play like Ray Allen, but I don't feel that way," Legion said when describing his game. "I think he is just shoots jump shots. I feel I am a little like Kobe Bryant. That is who I try and pattern my game after. He is very versatile. He can handle, he can shoot the three, he has a mid-range game, and can get any shot he wants on the floor. I think I can do those things. I can play three positions and I will be playing a lot of point guard for Country Day this year. I know I need to keep working on my game though. I definitely need to work on my defense. If the entire team works hard, I think we'll go all of the way this year."
If Legion does take Country Day to the title this season, he hopes it's only a dress rehearsal for the success he'll have in Ann Arbor. He plans to do what he can to help secure the talent necessary to help him reach that goal.
"It was important to Alex to help restore Michigan's basketball program to its glory days of Big Ten championships and NCAA appearances," said Legion's mentor and coach Tim Green. "He wants to be that guy that others follow to Ann Arbor."
"I plan on talking to other players to let them know about what we can do to bring Michigan basketball back," Legion said. "I think the team will do well this year. Then when me and Deshawn get there, we are going to keep the ball rolling and try to do even better. I am the first in the 2007 class to commit and I will play a major role in helping to get more players to come to Michigan with me. I know it is all about hard work and I am looking forward to working hard to help the team."
The top priority on his list is a good friend of his that plays point guard for Orchard Lake St. Mary's.