Blake McLimans and The Completion of a Class

Who knew Blake McLimans was going to be a high major D1 basketball player? Not he or his family. Although the passion and ability were always there, it wasn't until recently the tip of this iceberg started to show. Jeffery McLimans, Blake's father, describes what he saw in Blake at a young age, as well as talking about his visit to Ann Arbor this past weekend and his son's commitment to U-M.

Wolverines Headman John Beilein, in all likelihood, finished out Michigan's 2009 basketball recruiting class Tuesday with a commitment from the versatile 6-10 big man out of Worcester, Mass., Blake McLimans. But how did Blake even get to his point? How did he go from being a state championship volleyball player, to a very important basketball recruit and commit for the University of Michigan? Blake's dad filled in GoBlueWolverine on the details.

"His passion for athletics was evident when he was three years old," Mr. McLimans explained. "He hates to lose. He really needed to be active at all time." That continued throughout his childhood, and right through adolescence. "He hated to lose, and would never give up, he took on anything that kept his motor going."

Blake started volleyball in junior high, and because of his height was an invaluable asset to his team. In high school, he was a part of the New York state championship volleyball team two years in a row. In addition to volleyball, Blake isn't too shabby tossing the little white pill over the plate, throwing a consistent 90mph fastball. But it's almost impossible for an individual to be a successful multi sport athlete at the college level. So, then came a decision, and an important one.

"Blake did volleyball, basketball and baseball every year he was in high school. It came to his senior year and he was going to be going off to school, and he wanted to try and find out how good he could become at one sport. He has never concentrated or had any kind of training, he never played AAU basketball. So, it was a toss up between the baseball and the basketball. I asked him, 'Well what's going to make you the happiest?', and he said it was basketball. So that's what he's been doing since he's been at Worcester Academy."

Luckily for folks in Ann Arbor, his decision to focus on hoops couldn't have come at a better time. With former German commit Robin Benzing being ineligible to play in the USA and 2009 Aussie Angus Brandt taking his time, the Michigan basketball staff was short on future height and skilled big men to contribute next year and to eventually replace Zach Gibson and Deshawn Sims in the years to come. So McLiman's decision to Go Blue is key.

What can Michigan fans expect from Blake the next four years?

"For his size, his three point shooting (is a huge strength), Mr. McLimans explained. "And his ability to make other people better from his passing, and all of the little things. He plays the game; it's not one dimensional. He has a pretty good skill set, and inside and outside game, so he could create some match up problems. And he really has a passion for the game."

Freshman center Ben Cronin was McLimans' host on his visit. He was able to see dorm life and a Michigan basketball practice. Cronin gave him the full tour, and Blake took it all in. "He really enjoyed the fact that it is a big school, but it didn't feel big. He felt very comfortable. I think it's because of the proximity of the city to the university itself. He said it was a very warm feeling; he liked it a lot."

From what Coach Beilein told father and son, the future seems bright. "Coach Beilein is looking forward to the future. He is looking forward to getting his recruits and take advantage of the talent that's there now. Get a nice blend of everybody. He told Blake that there would be, unlike at a lot of universities, a lot of individual work and skill development. Coach thinks that's very important…thirty to forty minutes a day. That was different compared to the other places we've been."

When asked what Coach Beilein sees for the program in the next three to four years, Mr. McLimans said: "Coach Beilein is dead serious about it. These guys (U-M staff) are not here to win the conference. Their here because he's going to win a national championship. And you can imagine Coach Beilein saying that. That's what he imparted to the players and recruits that were there ... 'we're going to win a national championship'."

National Championship. Two words Wolverine fans have been craving since 1989. Beilein and West Virginia were two games away from that in 2005.

There is no doubt that 'rankings wise' these upcoming Beilein coached teams have much more natural talent/potential than his '05 WVA group. But that certainly doesn't guarantee anything.

While it is true no one knows what lies ahead, no one can argue this staff isn't one of the hardest working staff's in the business. Starting off this class with in-state center Jordan Morgan, U-M went to the West Coast to land point guard Darius Morris. From there, it was back to the Midwest to seek out long-range bomber and possibly the best shooter in this 2009 class, 6-4 Lake Forrest, Ill. guard Matt Vogrich. And now the East Coast with this versatile, skilled power forward from Massachusetts.

Combine these kids with talents like Manny Harris, Deshawn Sims and freshman transfer Laval Lucas-Perry, and this program just might be on to something.

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