Beilein Making the Rounds (Part 1)

New Men's Basketball Coach John Beilein has been touring the state in his early days on the job in an effort to get ton know some of Michigan's top coaches and players. Last Wednesday saw him make a trip to the city of Saginaw, home of the last two Class A state champs. The first stop of Beilein's itinerary was the dwelling of 2007's title holder, Saginaw high.

The primary question about John Beilein heading into his tenure as head of the Michigan basketball program was would he be able to recruit the state. Upon assuming his new post, he made it clear that recruiting his home territory would be one of his primary objectives. In his first few weeks on the job he has backed those words up with some action, venturing out on a statewide tour that called for him to visit some of the state’s top high school programs. Last Wednesday he started a day-long trek with a visit to Saginaw High.

“It was an outstanding meeting,” said Saginaw High headman Lou Dawkins. “It was very productive. It was close to two hours and every minute was great. He talked about coming here and getting to know me. He talked about wanting to get to know and build relationships with my players. He’ll back next week for a workout so he can meet my teams. He said he just wants the opportunity to recruit Saginaw high school. We would love to have a player playing for the Wolverines one day in the future, so it was an outstanding visit.”

Dawkins has made no secret of the fact that he felt Saginaw was a recruiting afterthought for Michigan in the past. That’s why he found Beilein’s initial gestures so encouraging.

“We have some of the best players in the state right now here in the (Saginaw) Valley, and this was a good stepping stone,” Dawkins said. “As a matter of fact, (Beilein) called me the day after he got hired and introduced himself to me, which I thought was great. Your first impression goes a long way, and the day he called me was my first impression. It surprised me. That was great in and of itself.”

”When he came here the first thing he did was look at our history on our Wall of Fame,” Dawkins continued. “That’s a special thing for me because we have had tremendous athletes that have played tremendous basketball, but I do not believe we’ve ever had a University of Michigan basketball player. I would love to have a player playing for him. I know what he has done in West Virginia. The thing about it is he didn’t have the type of athlete that a lot of colleges have, but he has been still been very successful because of his game plan. I just hope everything works out for him at the University of Michigan.”

Beilein, meanwhile, is hoping everything works out for him at Saginaw High because that would mean he landed the state’s top prospect in 2008, Draymond Green. He made it clear to Dawkins that he would recruit Green as hard or harder than any other school in pursuit.

“He’d be crazy not to,” Dawkins said. “Oh yeah, he offered. He watched a lot of tape of him and had been hearing a lot of great things about him. He told me he is flying up personally this weekend to Pittsburgh to watch Draymond. Basically everywhere (Draymond) goes, (Beilein) is going to be there.

Recently the scuttlebutt was that Green was on the verge of pledging to Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans. According to Dawkins, however, those claims are premature.

“Rumors spread, and I don’t know where people got this information to begin with,” said Dawkins. “Dray is open. He is going to take his time. Me, his mother, and him have been doing a lot of work this week. Minnesota has been in the house already along with Michigan and Michigan State. Indiana has been up here. There have been so many colleges in a short time period. I’ve been saying all year that he is America’s best kept secret. He should be rated with the top 20-30 players in the country. Now that he is getting the attention he deserves he is going to take his time and weigh his options.”

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