It was a hectic day for everyone involved with the Michigan basketball program. It seemed as if none of them saw it coming. That's certainly the impression you get when hearing the reactions to Tommy Amaker's dismissal yesterday.
"I can’t believe they fired him," Alex Legion said. "It is hard to explain how I'm feeling right now. I was just talking and spending time with him Friday night at Manny’s game, and now this? It is a tough one to swallow right now. Coach called and gave me the news and I didn’t know what to say. I mean, that was my guy man. I love that guy, man."
Corperryale Harris (aka Manny) found himself in a similar state of shock. The day had started out so positively with the early leaking of the news that he would be named this year's Mr. Basketball. That joy, however, was muted when he got the news that the coach he committed to was no longer in place.
"Wow man… they fired Coach Amaker," Harris said in disbelief. "He called me and told me that he was not going to be the coach at Michigan. I just couldn’t believe it when I heard it. I was looking forward to playing for Coach Amaker. Then I find out that Coach Jackson might have to go too! This is hard to believe."
“With the recruits we have coming in why would they fire him now," Kelvin Grady later asked? "Manny just won Mr. Basketball. That is great news… and now this? They are letting go of Coach Amaker? I am very surprised that he is not going to be there."
The clamor for public reaction from the trio added yet another layer of difficulty to digesting yesterday's news. Legion began the day providing "no comment" as his standard answer. When the calls continued to mount, sometimes from the same publications that were given the "no comment" reply, Legion took a different tact. He soon began offering a stock quote similar to the one he gave the Detroit News. In the News article he said, "“I’m still committed to Michigan, as long as I have players around me like (incoming recruit) Corperryale Harris and (current player) Deshawn Sims."
The truth is, Legion is far more uncertain about what he will do.
"The media has been calling me up all day asking for a quote," Legion explained. "Man, I'm thinking about Coach Amaker right now and how nobody knows what is going on with Michigan. I am trying to deal with my coach being fired, and they want to talk. Everybody was calling me so I just started giving them all a standard answer. I started telling them all the same thing. I don't know what I'm going to do right now. I am going to have to see who the new coach is and to see the direction in which they are going. Then we'll see what happens after that."
The direction will be a big key for Grady as well. While it's true that the cat-quick point guard liked Amaker personally, he also liked the system the former Michigan headman employed. According to Grady's father, changing the Coach (and in-turn the style of play) automatically puts his son's future in question.
"They finally have some players coming in, but (Amaker) won't get a chance to coach the guys that he worked so hard to get," Kevin Grady Sr. said. "I don't think that's right. But they have to do what they have to do. As far as Kelvin goes, everything is back on the table. Even football. It's something he is going to have to look at because the style of play is a big thing. He wants to play in an up-tempo system. He can't just automatically say he is going to stick with Michigan. We'll have to see who the next guy will be."
In meantime, while Michigan conducts its search, the players plan converse about the candidates and their future plans so that each of them has an accurate account of what the others are thinking. One of the threads still linking them all together is the possible presence of the others in Ann Arbor. Should any of them opt to go elsewhere, it will have an affect on the thought processes of the others.
"I talked to Manny and he just wanted to know what was going on," Grady said. "We are going to talk some more about it and I will be talking to the rest of the team soon."
"I spoke with Manny too, and he wanted to know what was going on with me in terms of staying at Michigan," Legion added. "I just told him I didn't know what I was going to do. I need to see who they hire. Right now, I don’t know what I am going to do."
Harris indicated he will continue to take the initiative when it comes to keeping the lines of communication open. At the same time, he plans to focus a great deal of attention on evaluating his own options with his inner circle.
"I will talk with the guys on the team (Ekpe Udoh & Deshawn Sims) to see where their minds are right now," Harris said. "I am going to talk to Al and Kelvin some more too. But I am going to talk it over with my family first, though. This is a tough one to take. This is just crazy man. Really, I don't know what I'm going to do either. I just need to be with and talk with my family right now. That’s all I can say."
Legion's final comment summed it up best for him and his potential teammates.
"It's just a real tough day for us all man," he said.
GoBlueWolverine will have more on all three players in the days to come.