The Michigan Wolverines have continued to beat the recruiting trails for talent in the 2006 class, and they appear to be closing in on another post target. Their pursuit of big men Jason Bennett and Ekpe Udoh has been well documented, but they've managed to keep their recruitment of another banger under the radar.
Anthony Wright is the sixth man for one of the most talented prep programs in the country; Oak Hill Academy. The versatile forward is currently averaging 9.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 17 minutes per game. (For comparison's sake, the minutes leader is starting point guard Tywon Lawson 23 per game). In head coach Steve Smith's eight man rotation, seven are future division one players. Wright is definitely one of them.
"Anthony is 6-6.5, about 240-lbs, and he plays both the three and the four for us," Smith said. "We played him exclusively at the three as a sophomore because he can put it on the floor. He's a good passer and is also a very good shooter. This is his third year at Oak Hill and he has shot over 40% from three since he has been here. We play him inside too. He has the ability to score. He is a very good rebounder both offensively and defensively. Like I said, he is versatile because he can play a couple of positions."
With all of the talent on the Warrior squad, it has been easy for scouts to overlook Wright. Many collegiate programs, on the other hand, took notice of his talents a long time ago. The idea that Wofford is the only other school interested in this inside-out big man is sorely mistaken according to his coach.
"Wofford was trying to get in, but they wouldn't have a snowball's chance of getting him," said Smith. "This fall he had about 15 offers from mid-majors like James Madison, Old Dominion, and all of Carolina schools in our area like Wilmington, Greensborough, and East Carolina. He is a good student too, so he had a lot of academic schools trying to get involved with him. He had several Ivy League schools like Bucknell, Hofstra, and a lot of schools in the east that were trying to get involved. But he's a better player than that. He decided he wanted to wait and see who else popped up. There's nothing wrong with those schools. He could go to them and play, but he can play at a higher level too."
Wright's decision to delay making his choice has apparently paid off. Michigan assistant Mike Jackson made watching the combo forward a priority this winter and Tommy Amaker put his stamp of approval on the Maize and Blue's interest when he offered the youngster after a game earlier this week. Things look good for the Maize and Blue, but they aren't the only high-major program showing interest.
"His recruiting has picked up," Smith said. "I can't recall all of the schools that have come on for him because I have seven division one players on my team. Off the top of my head, St. Johns and Michigan are two that I know he is really thinking about now. But he's getting to point where he is about tired of it. I know he likes Michigan a lot. He even talked about possibly committing. St. John's has been calling a lot, but they haven't been able to get down yet. This could be over with before they do. Coach Amaker was at the game the other night and he was pretty close to a commitment. He is talking about, 'do I want wait until I visit or just go ahead and commit?' Kids nowadays commit now and visit later! (laughing). I'm not sure what he's going to do. I know he was talking to his mother yesterday and I think he is very close to committing. "
Wright's ability to play in the high post could be an excellent complement for low block talents like Deshawn Sims and Courtney Sims next year. As a player that can effectively pass and shoot it from outside of the paint, he could provide quality back-up minutes at both the three and the four spots. That potential contribution has apparently intrigued the Michigan coaching staff.
"I think they really like his versatility," Smith said. "Like I said, he's a guy that can play a couple of positions. Plus they like his skill level. He is a big guy that can do a lot of things. He is a very good passer and rebounder, shooter…the things you want in an offensive player. Then he has the size to guard a perimeter guy or a post guy."
There has been no shortage of talent in Smith's program, so it's safe to assume that he knows players when he seems them. In his opinion, whoever gets Wright will definitely be getting a young man that can contributor on the floor and not one that just take up a roster spot.
"I think he has a chance to play pretty early because he knows how to play, and he has been here for three years," said Smith. "He has played in big games and has played and practiced against good players. He is used to that level of play. Our guards...one is going to Carolina (Tywon Lawson) and one is going to Duke (Nolan Smith). Our frontcourt guys...I've got one going to Georgia (Albert Jackson), one going to NC Charlotte (Michael Beasley), and one going to Virginia Tech (Jeffrey Allen). Anthony is a much better player than the kid going to Georgia."
If the Wolverines are successful in securing Wright's commitment, the recruitment of Bennett and Udoh will continue. Each of their recruitments will go well into the spring.
GoBlueWolverine will have more on any developments with Anthony Wright
in the coming days.